Customs misses 2013 revenue target
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs, widely criticized for corruption among its ranks and its failure to curb smuggling, missed its P340-billion revenue target for 2013.
Preliminary data from the country's second-biggest revenue agency showed it was able to collect P304.48 billion in 2013, P35.52 billion or 10.4% short of its goal. The amount was, however, 5.04% higher than what it collected in 2012.
Last year was challenging for the bureau for it was mostly in transition. Heads rolled at the agency after it was singled out by President Benigno Aquino III in his State of the Nation Address for being incompetent and corrupt.
New top-level officials were appointed, workers were ordered to return to their mother units and some collectors were transferred to the Department of Finance.
The changes, part of an aggressive reform program backed by the President, were strongly opposed by employees.
While changes were being implemented, then Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon was named in a case involving the misuse of pork barrel funds. Biazon resigned and was replaced by former Finance Undersecretary John Sevilla. (READ: Customs chief, 33 others in PDAF case)
Biazon earlier cited the country's participation in foreign trade agreements, which brought down tariffs on imports, as the main reason for poor collections.
Critics however have pointed out that smuggling and pay-offs continue to weigh on the bureau's performance. (READ: PH loses $410B in illicit transactions)
Sevilla gave assurances that the reform program will address this.
He said, in fact, the bureau saw a 19.26% year-on-year increase in cash collections for the period November 2013 to January this year, when the agency felt the full impact of the administration's reform program. Prior to this, in January to October last year, Sevilla said cash collections grew by a measly 4.76%.
"One of the key performance indicators for the reform's success is the improvement in its cash collections. One can draw a line before and after October, when the reform operations and personnel movements stabilized, and observe that the initial major elements of the Customs Reform Program have been substantive and generated significant growth in revenues for the government.
"These are encouraging initial results. The numbers tell us the reform program is starting to work," he concluded. – Rappler.com