Monday, November 14, 2005

P175B lost yearly to technical smuggling—Roxas

By Patricia Esteves, Manila Times Reporter

SEN. Mar Roxas reiterated his appeal to the government to address the problem of smuggling, saying it would save the country a lot of revenues.

“If you add up and collect all the government revenues lost to smuggling, there is no need to impose new taxes to fund the budget,” Roxas said.

He said the Senate Committees on Trade and Commerce and on Economic Affairs, which he both chairs, recently recommended the adop­tion of Senate Bill 2154, seeking to amend the Tariff and Customs Code to curb smuggling.

He pointed out that billions of revenues are lost to smuggling in industries based on the information given during hearings and technical working group meetings conducted by his committees.

“In technical smug­gling alone, about P175 billion in revenues is lost every year. The amount is double the P80 billion in revenues expected from EVAT,” he said.

Technical smuggling is the evasion of correct duties and taxes through undervaluation, misdeclaration and misclassification.

“The bloated fiscal deficit is partly due to smuggling and its close cousins are graft and corruption,” Roxas said. “Undeclared, misdeclared or misclassified commodities, which enter the country without proper payment of duties, have caused the economy to recoil.

Corruption lies at the very center of smuggling activities,” he said.

Roxas said it’s not yet too late to stop smuggling by establishing a legislative strategy that promotes transparency, accountability and efficiency in customs transactions.

“The idea is to jumpstart policy maneuvers that would promote three categories of intervention: Preventive, or measures designed to keep irregularities from occurring; detective, or measures to discover errors and irregularities that have already occurred; and corrective, or measures designed to provide a remedy for detected errors or irregularities,” Roxas said.

He suggested to the government to enlist the help of the oversight anti­smug­gling body being sought by businessmen and industry leaders to look into the activities in customs-bonded warehouses and their unliquidated balances could help speed up the resolution of smuggling cases.

Under the existing laws, penalties and punishment on smugglers are very lax

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