Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, February 29, 2008

Smuggling in free ports probed

By Lawrence Agcaoli - Manila Standard Today

THE government yesterday vowed to curb rampant smuggling in the country’s free ports to plug tax leakages that could endanger the country’s fiscal consolidation program.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said in a statement that the Department of Finance would oversees several administrative measures being implemented by the Bureau of Customs to eliminate smuggling in major free ports such as Subic bay Freeport and clark Special Economic Zone.

“We are currently implementing several administrative measures to curb smuggling through the country’s free port’s,” Teves said

He said the government was set to pilot test next month the much delayed fuel marking technology at Subic, Clark and the Batangas port to ensure that proper taxes and duties were paid on oil imports.

The finance department mandated the marking of imported kerosene and fuel oils on Aug.15 in the three ports.

The marking of all kerosene and all diesel oil subject to zero exercise tax will be implemented in other ports through a nationwide roll-our to properly identify and track fuel oils shipped into the Philippines.

Teves said the department also issued an order tightening the monitoring o importations and grant of tax privileges to enterprises through the sharing of information between Customs and administrators of free ports as well as other special economic zones.

He added that Customs signed a memorandum of agreement with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority for closer coordination of importations made by locators inside the former US military naval base.

The finance chief said Customs had started conducting post-entry audit on imported cigarettes, alcohol products and motor vehicles.

He said Customs had imposed a morotarium on the accreditation of customs bonded warehouse due to reports that they were being used as conduits to smuggling activities.

Customs aims to collect P254.5 billion this year, or 21 percent higher than last year’s P210.5 billion. The agency missed its P228.2-billion after collections grew old by 6.2 percent from P198.2 billion in 2006.

The administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is at the tail-end of a fiscal consolidation program aimed at achieving a balanced budget this year, or two years earlier than the original 2010 schedule under the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan.

Buoyed by the recode p90.6-billion proceeds from privatization the government trimmed the budget deficit to a record P9.4 billion, or 0.1 percent of gross domestic product, from 64.8 billion or 1.1 percent of the GDP.

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