The Bureau of Customs, the government’s second biggest revenue source, expressed optimism that it will meet its revenue collection target this year with the full implementation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon said the CMTA will help the bureau arrest the dismal revenue collection trend in the last six years.
CMTA or Republic Act No. 10863 aims to simplify, modernize and align with global best practices the country’s customs procedures, including import clearances and valuations, making the release of goods much faster.
It will also benefit millions of overseas Filipino workers as the new law increases the tax-exempt value of items sent by OFWs through balikbayan boxes.
Under the CMTA, OFWs can send up to three P150,000-worth of tax- and duty-free balikbayan boxes in a year, given that the goods are not in commercial quantities nor intended for barter, sale or for hire.
Faeldon earlier said he would instill several reforms in the bureau, including pushing for the computerization of processes to reduce red tape and opportunities for corruption.
“There are at least four reforms that we are envisioning to do. One is we have to fast track the computerization. Another thing is that we want to remove the compulsory utilization of brokerage, because some unscrupulous brokers are using their services to smuggle commodities into the country. We will see what the CMTA can do to aid us in the transition from compulsory to optional usage of brokerage,” he said.
“We really what to predetermine the quantity and quality of goods or commodities before leaving the ports of origin. And finally, we really want to coordinate with importing countries to our country to give us a more accurate government certified prices of commodities. These are not very easy things to be done because we need approval and participation of the importing and exporting parties,” Faeldon added.
Faeldon also vowed to implement a “daily” monitoring of shipment valuation coupled with updated scanning systems to prevent smuggling.
He adopted the ongoing graveyard shifts and 24/7 operations of Customs personnel which was meant to declog ports.
Faeldon also began cracking the whip on corrupt officials and personnel suspected of being involved in the illegal “tara” system or the practice of accepting grease money in the BoC, which was earlier identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the most corrupt government agencies.
“I am already investigating some people involved in the tara system. We have already asked the DoJ to do a probe. I cannot name them yet because I do not want to jeopardize the formal investigation, which could be expanded to include other officials or personnel,” he said.
“But if there is culpability, we will let the public know. For now, let us leave the probe with the DoJ because that is within their mandate,” Faeldon said.