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BOC’s cellphone revenue collection grows despite reduced volumes

  • Improved valuation for taxing mobile or cellular phone (cellphone) imports has resulted in a 27% jump in revenues to P2 billion in the first four months of this year despite lower import volumes
  • Cellphone imports are now taxed per piece and by brand, instead of by volume
  • A total of P5.49 billion was collected from overall imports of the telecommunications sector as of April 30, a 28% improvement year-on-year
  • A total of P5.67 billion in rice import duties was collected from January 1 to April 30 of this year despite a 9.2% decline in volume

An improved valuation method for taxing mobile or cellular phone (cellphone) shipments entering the country has resulted in a 27% jump in revenues to P2 billion in the first four months of this year despite lower import volumes, according to the Department of Finance (DOF).

The volume of cellphone imports from January 1 to April 30, 2021 totaled 660,000 kilograms (kg), lower by 30.4% compared to the 950,000 kg imported during the same period last year, according to preliminary data presented by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III in a recent executive committee meeting.

Despite the lower import volumes, BOC was able to collect P2 billion, which was 27.1% higher than the P1.57 billion collected in the first four months of 2020.

Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero told Dominguez the bigger revenue take was the result of BOC’s better valuation of cellphone imports, which are now taxed per piece and by brand, instead of the previous method of taxing them by volume.

READ: BOC updating e2m to recognize other measurement units

“It was mainly because of the entry of high-end cellphones and telecommunications equipment, and also because of better valuation,” Guerrero said.

BOC also collected P24.79 million from mobile phone parts from January 1 to April 30, which was 78% more than last year’s P13.94 million collection despite almost the same volume of these goods entering the country in both periods.

Imports of other types of telecommunications equipment and devices hauled in P3.46 billion in revenues for the BOC this year as of April 30. The collection was 28% higher than the P2.7 billion collected during the same period in 2020.

In total, BOC was able to collect P5.49 billion from the imports of the telecommunications sector as of April 30, representing a 28% improvement from the P4.3 billion collection during the same period last year.

In the same meeting, Guerrero also reported collections of P5.67 billion in rice import duties from January 1 to April 30 of this year.

Preliminary data showed that from January 1 to April 30, a total of 804,360 metric tons (MT) of rice shipments worth P17 billion entered the country, representing a 9.2% decline from the 885,645 MT valued at P16.4 billion that were imported during the same period last year.

Because of the similar improvement in the valuation system for rice, the revenues collected from the January 1 to April 30 imports amounted to P5.67 billion, which was 3.7% more than the P5.46 billion collected during the same period in 2020, despite lower import volumes of the grain this year.

From an average of P18,508 per MT during the same period in 2020, the average value of rice imports rose to P21,096 per MT in 2021, which was an increase of 14%, Guerrero said.

The BOC chief said rice import volumes fell in March and April because of the local harvest season.

All import duties collected from rice imports beginning March 5, 2019 go to the annual P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund for the benefit of local palay growers, as provided under Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

Guerrero said the value of rice imports fell in April because these were mostly shipments of husked rice, which were of lower value than milled rice varieties.

“Well, actually, that’s better because when you import husk, you know, the darak is a by-product so that’s good for the feed industry and, of course, our millers also have work,” Dominguez, a former agriculture secretary, said.

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