Customs eyes P8-B target despite ‘arms smuggling’

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Thursday, April 3, 2014


THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Northern Mindanao is striving to reach its P8-billion target for this year, an official said, amid recent reports that smuggled arms had passed through the port of Cagayan de Oro on their way to the United States.

Already, the agency has surpassed the target it has set for the first quarter of 2014, said lawyer Roswald Joseph Pague, BOC-Northern Mindanao acting administrative officer.

Pague used to head the port in Ozamiz City but was reassigned to the BOC regional office last January.

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For March, Pague said the accumulated import collections for BOC’s four ports reached 679 million or P25 million more of its target of P653 million.

Last month, the Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental remained the highest collector among the BOC ports with P599 million.

Cagayan de Oro port came in second with P61 million, followed by Iligan City with P13 million, and Ozamiz with P4 million.

For the same month in 2013, the target was P387 million while the actual collection was P510 million.

In 2012, the actual import tax collection was P456 million.

Last year, the target collection was P4.8 billion while the actual collection reached P5.7 billion.

For April, the BOC target collection is pegged at P693 million, but Pague is positive that they will exceed the targeted amount of P8 billion for the year.

He said the customs bureau’s optimism is due to the entry of two coal-fired power plants in Misamis Oriental—one in Villanueva to be operated by FDC Misamis Power Corporation, and another in Balingasag, which will be managed by Cagayan de Oro Light and Power Corporation (Cepalco) in partnership with Mindanao Energy Systems, Incorporated (Minergy).

Both power plants are expected to bring in more import taxes to the region.

This May, FDC Misamis Power will ship in its capital equipment worth around P3 billion to P5 billion for the construction of its 405-megawatt power plant, which is expected to go online in 2016, Pague said.

BOC-Northern Mindanao has recently collected some P25 million from Cepalco/Minergy for its 100-megawatt coal-fired power facility.

The customs’ usual top importers -- Jetti Oil, Nestlé, Del Monte Philippines Inc., Pilipinas Kao and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. -- are also contributing to the tax collection increase.

He said a boatload of imported oil can cost from P100 million to P200 million in import taxes.

Pague considered this uptrend in import taxes as a clear indication that the BOC is really serious in its efforts to collect from importing companies.

He said the sustained increase in import tax collection is due to BOC's strict enforcement of valuation where if a declaration of goods is very low as compared to the existing standards, importers are required to upgrade or to make them pay more taxes.

The other factor is BOC’s strict anti-smuggling measures.

When reports reached their office of the alleged smuggling activity, Pague said they wasted no time in conducting its own investigation.

He said that under the watch of BOC-Northern Mindanao district collector Ruby Claudia Alameda, alleged illegal acts conducted in the region’s ports will not be tolerated.

“We will never let it happen. As a matter of fact, we are on heightened alert right now,” Pague told Sun.Star in an exclusive interview in his office Wednesday afternoon.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 03, 2014.

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