FPI pushes for anti-smuggling bill in admin’s list of priority measures

Published by rudy Date posted on April 3, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) has urged government to include the anti-smuggling bill in Malacañang’s list of priority measures not only to help increase tax collection but also to protect domestic manufacturers.

“We hope that the anti-smuggling bill will be given utmost importance by the President by certifying it as urgent. It can be recalled that this has passed through three Congress, but the House of Representatives and Senate were not synchronized,” FPI chairman Jesus L. Arranza said.

“The government is in dire need of money and industry is in a serious state because smuggled goods are competing unfairly in the domestic market. A stronger law against smuggling will address these concerns.”

Arranza added that an effective law that will eradicate all the loopholes in the Tariff and Customs Code (TCC) will make anti-smuggling efforts more successful.

For instance, he said the system of rewards should be improved by not basing it simply on increased collection. The basis in rewarding Customs personnel, he said, should be the incremental collections brought about by their actions to prevent technical smuggling, particularly undervaluation, misclassification, misdeclaration and underdeclaration.

The FPI will make its appeal for the inclusion of the anti-smuggling bill at a mini-summit it is holding in the middle of this month.

“We will appeal further, not only to government agencies implementing the TCC, but also to members of both houses of Congress, to consider this as a very urgent and important bill that will save our nation, considering that based on records, we are losing about P125 billion in unpaid tariff and VAT at Customs annually,” Arranza said.

Also at the mini-summit, FPI, representatives of farmers’ and labor groups, and government officials will also assess the progress in the fight against smuggling.

The FPI will also reiterate some of the work plans contained in the wish list it submitted to the government during the Anti-Smuggling Summit, which can be implemented while the anti-smuggling bill is still pending in Congress.

The list includes the use of the Bureau of Customs’ right of compulsory acquisition for grossly undervalued imports, designation of a third-party auditing firm to help the BOC’s Post-Entry Audit Group, the fielding of private prosecutors in smuggling cases to assist government fiscals, designation of special courts for smuggling cases, and outright destruction of seized smuggled items except agricultural and food items that are fit for human consumption, which should be donated to charity. –Ma. Elisa P. Osorio (The Philippine Star)

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