Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, April 10, 2004

SBMA Abuse & mismanagement

THERE was a time when the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority was limited by law to granting tax-free importation only to machinery and equipment, the same to be used by industries inside the economic zone.

If that original law were kept intact, there would be no smuggling of new and used cars, cigarettes, groceries, and whatever an enterprising importer could imagine.

But they refined that law, removing one limitation after another and today, the SBMA has become a smuggler’s paradise. Gen. Jose Calimlim, a newly appointed SBMA official, calls it the "hub of smugglers," where billions in revenue are lost every year.
The battered law now allowing all kinds of importations states that such imports, whether cars or cigarettes, must not be taken out of the economic zone.

That law is flouted every day. Right-hand drive cars cannot be imported, but they are brought in unlimited numbers. Expert mechanics move the steering wheel and the dashboard gauges to the left. They are freely auctioned off, devastating the local car industry.

If the shiploads of cigarettes were smoked by every man, woman, and child in the zone, including the transient workers, they would have coughed themselves to early graves.



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