THE Philippine Bureau of Customs, keeping to its promise to reform, has begun publishing online a list of almost every importation into the Philippines in December 2013, a first in the agency’s “many steps to improve the transparency and accountability of our operations.”
This is the first time since its inception that the bureau is publishing data that include such details as import classification code, type of goods, volume, freight rate, tariff and country of origin of products brought into the country.
The list, however, does not include the names of importers or consignees, drawing comment from some sectors the list is not totally transparent.
The trove of statistics would be useful for traders, statisticians, researchers and economists interested in analyzing the country’s foreign trade.
Portusers Confederation Inc. president Dominador de Guzman gave a nod of approval for the move but Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines president Arnel Gamboa said it “may improve the image (of the BOC) but it’s no guarantee there won’t be illegal dealings.”
Gamboa noted, “The big fish are not visible on the radar.”
Previously, the BOC had been seen as one of the government agencies too secretive of their statistics or kept no records of day-to-day transactions, factors that had made the bureau prone to corruption.
“The list – 88,006 items in December 2013 alone – is organized by major product groups using the Harmonized Standard (HS) Code classification system,” Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla said in a statement.
“For each item, we include information such as a description of the item imported, its HS code number and standard HS code description, what country the item came from, its value, and the amount of duties and taxes collected on that item,” Sevilla said.
The BOC clarified that the list includes all items imported for consumption through the formal entry process.
“What the list does not include is composed largely of items brought into the Philippines by mail, balikbayan boxes and passenger baggage, as well as items imported into the various economic zones and other areas which, by law, are subject to special customs treatment,” the agency said.
Sevilla also asked the public to share their information and contact BOC if the actual values of specific imports are different from what the agency is using.
“We would particularly appreciate it if you could cite a specific HS code and country of origin or control number as shown in the list in your correspondence,” Sevilla said.
“Going forward, we intend to publish this list every month,” he added.––Roumina M. Pablo
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