Gov’t urged to look into ‘steel smuggling’ at BoC

September 15, 2019

A LAWMAKER yesterday asked the government to look into the alleged corruption between several big steel manufacturers and officials of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) who may have deprived the government of billions of pesos in tax revenues, including penalties for improper import declarations.

Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) Rep. Lito Atienza said the lost tax revenues that could have gone to the government’s coffer is enough to support the administration’s social services and infrastructure projects.

“Instead of introducing new tax reforms to raise revenue for the government’s social services and infrastructure programs, the government should be looking into the issue of smuggling at BoC,
especially steel,” said Atienza who asked the BoC to implement the pre-shipment inspection of all cargo vans coming into the country.

“The Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) was passed in 2015 but it was never implemented the pre-inspection provision specified in Sec. 440—that container vans should be inspected at their ports of origin. The huge amount of tax revenues the government is losing due to this malpractice could be used to fund infrastructure projects under the President’s ‘Build, Build, Build,” program, particularly those that are intended to alleviate the country’s transportation system to ease the commuters’ daily burden,” said Atienza.

It was reported that Dante Jimenez, the chairman of Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), confirmed its inquiry on the possible alleged misdeclaration in the importation documents submitted by the big steel manufacturers.

The probe will cover the real declared value of the imported billets over the past ten years or times when the steelmakers reportedly declared differently and also paid a lower tax.

It will also look into the imported steel billets from several countries that allegedly displayed big discrepancies in terms of size, description and volume, showing clear misdeclaration, and thus improper taxes paid.

Last year, giant cigarette maker Mighty Corp. paid nearly P40 billion to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to settle tax deficiencies as part of a compromise deal that allowed the company to walk from criminal complaints filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte specifically eyed the BoC for rampant corruption, and axed 64 top officials and employees of the revenue-collecting agency allegedly linked to unethical practices.   Ryan Ponce Pacpaco