A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Editorial cartoon by Ed Rompal

NEWLY minted Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña is doing a great job. 

What his predecessors had failed to address, he is now doing something to correct the situation and more.

We refer here to the wide discrepancy between China’s recorded exports and imports to the Philippines, which clearly has been going on for the longest time. 

Lapeña realized that the main reason for the said discrepancy is the illegal practice of gross misdeclaration or undervaluation of goods in terms of either volume or weight. 

In short, the government is losing hundreds of billions of pesos yearly due to technical smuggling which could have been used for public works projects and delivery of basic services. 

Official records showed that the government is losing P 231-B yearly due to technical smuggling.

What Lapena discovered actually is not new. His predecessors surely had known about it but the difference is that this time Lapeña is taking action against it.

Now that he is doing the sleuthing, Lapeña discovered that the discrepancy in trade figures was due to “the possible use of ’consignees for hire,’ which leads to goods released to ’hidden’ traders and not to the consignees on record.”

The hiring of consignees and hidden traders allowed the importers to evade the scrutiny of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

He noted that in both instances—misdeclaration or undervaluation and the use of consignees for hire—“benchmarking” and the submission of fake documents allow traders to get away with these underhanded schemes.

As a result, Lapeña ordered that the BOC gradually do away with the practice of benchmarking, which allows traders to expedite the processing of their imports without the required inspections, so that the correct valuation of goods at the ports could be done.

Lapeña already directed Customs officers to ensure a five-day processing period for imports to cut the usual time of one to two months.

With these reforms and the dogged determination of Lapena to address the problem, this paper believes that change is indeed coming at least in the waterfront.

As we all know, BOC for the longest time has the reputation of one of the most corrupt agencies of the government and Lapena’s decision to do a complete house cleaning is a step in the right direction.

 

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Thursday, 21 March 2019
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