DOF orders BOC to heighten security vs pork smuggling

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021   •   335

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Finance (DOF) has ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to heighten its security against pork smuggling .

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III wants a tighter watch over the possible misdeclaration or misclassification of pork shipments entering the country.

The order was issued after President Duterte approved in principle the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to expand the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation for pork imports.

Dominguez said some importers may misdeclare their pork shipments to avoid paying higher import duties. The current tariff on pork within the MAV is at 30 percent, while off-quota imports are taxed a higher 40 percent. 

“Edible offal (entrails) of bovine animals, such as swine, sheep and goats are taxed much lower, which some importers may declare [for their] prime pork shipments to avoid paying higher import duties,” the DOF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero assured that the bureau has been closely monitoring the imports of meat products, including pork and chicken. AAC

DOF urges Congress to support Duterte order to increase pork imports at lower tariff rates

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has called on lawmakers to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to temporarily increase pork importations at lower tariff rates to address pork supply woes in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Dominguez said the recommendation to the President to temporarily reduce pork import tariffs and increase the minimum access volume (MAV) on pork imports was made by him and the administration’s economic development cluster (EDC) “after extensive deliberations and consultations among concerned agencies and the public, with all the tradeoffs considered in the cost-benefit analysis done on this major consumer concern.”

In a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Dominguez said that as Chairman of the Cabinet’s Economic Development Cluster (EDC), he was taking full responsibility for supporting and recommending to the President to sign Executive Order (EO) No. 128, which temporarily modified the rates of the import duties on fresh, chilled and frozen meat of swine and increased the MAV on such imports.

Dominguez pointed out in his letter that the period of the tariff adjustment under the EO emphasizes that “this is a short-term effort that does not aim to harm the domestic industry” and is actually “complementary to the programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in helping the domestic hog industry to recover.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Senate to support this measure so that some 100 million Filipinos who eat pork, especially the poor, will not be penalized by high food prices. If left unresolved, poverty and malnutrition will increase,” Dominguez said in his letter.

“Elevated pork prices will add another problem to households whose incomes have already been heavily strained by the COVID-19 pandemic. With African Swine Fever (ASF) raging through farms for almost two years, data show that domestic supply will remain inadequate for the needs of consumers,” he added.

Pork prices in the National Capital Region (NCR) have already reached as high as P327 per kilo in March 2021, which is 59 percent higher compared to last year.

In March 2021, meat inflation increased to 20.9 percent and was the top contributor to overall inflation of 1.4 percentage points, even higher than the 1 percent contribution to inflation of rice at the height of the 2018 rice crisis.

Dominguez said that to resolve the ASF crisis gripping the domestic hog industry, the DA has put in place several programs, among them, repopulating the swine population, compensating producers for losses in culled hogs, and investing in long-term solutions to the problems of the swine industry.

He pointed out though that these are medium-term and long-term solutions that will not immediately address the current price pressures affecting pork consumers.

Contrary to misperceptions, the DA does not intend to rely on importation alone to solve supply issues in the long haul, the DOF chief said.

“Even with increased imports, a large part of domestic demand is expected to be covered by domestic production, which the DA will aggressively support with improved implementation of its hog production assistance and repopulation program,” Dominguez said.

Customs destroys P50-million worth of smuggled cigarettes in Zamboanga

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

 

Operatives from the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Zamboanga destroyed some P50 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in a warehouse in Barangay Baliwasan.

The BOC said the smuggled cigarettes destroyed on April 13 were seized in separate operations since December 2020.

The bureau, together with representatives from different partner agencies, destroyed more than 1,278 master cases and 513 reams of cigarettes.

The seized cigarettes were crushed by payloader equipment in an outdoor yard, soaked with used oil to prevent recycling, dispersed with water by firemen, and disposed of in the sanitary landfill in Brgy. Salaan, it added.

The destruction and disposal of cigarettes is reported to be the first condemnation activity of the Port for this year.

The condemnation ceremony was witnessed by the local government unit, heads of partner law enforcement agencies, a representative from the Commission on Audit, Department of Health, and stakeholders, the BOC said.

“The immediate destruction and disposal of such contrabands was a firm directive from Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero to promote transparency and remove doubts of corruption, theft, or pilferage in the agency,” it added.

BOC, BIR to start field testing enforcement on fuel products on April 26

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have announced their intention to begin Field Testing Enforcement activities on fuel products beginning April 26.

The testing covers gasoline, diesel, and kerosene found in warehouses, storage tanks, gas stations, other retail outlets, and in such other properties, to check if they contain the required Fuel Marker level.

Vessels, tank trucks, and similar fuel transporting vehicles will also be covered by the enforcement activities.

Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, petroleum products found without the Official Fuel Marker or not containing the required level of the Official Fuel Marker are subject to payment of duties and taxes, as well as appropriate fines and penalties.

The payment is without prejudice to the confiscation and forfeiture of such Unmarked or Diluted Fuel and the filing of the appropriate criminal case.

The Field Testing process will be done using Mobile Laboratory Units equipped with analyzers capable of detecting the Official Fuel Marker’s presence in any fuel sample.

The test result will be generated on-site and will indicate a pass or fail result. Products with failed results will be subjected to Confirmatory Testing in the Fuel Testing Facility.

For purposes of transparency, the owner of the fuel or his representative will be allowed to witness the Field and Confirmatory Testing.

The two Bureaus began the Transitory Field Testing activities in February this year and will continue until April 26, 2021.

Under the Transitory Field Testing, sample fuels from retail stations and tank trucks in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces were tested to determine the marker levels in the fuel supply available in the domestic market.

The Fuel Marking Program aims to raise revenues while curbing fuel smuggling and leveling the Philippine oil industry.

Beginning its implementation in September 2019 to December 2020, the BOC and BIR marked a total of 17.55 billion liters of fuel and have collected Php171.72 billion in duties and taxes under the program.

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