FIGHT ILLICIT TRADE MOVEMENT BACKS PUBLICATION OF IMPORT PRICES OF FREQUENTLY SMUGGLED GOODS
The Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT) movement called on the Bureau of Customs to make public declared import prices of the so-called frequently smuggled goods to ensure transparency in the bureau and curb corruption that breeds smuggling.
Fight IT lead convenor Jesus Arranza, who is also chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries, said the problem of smuggling is harming both government which is losing billions of pesos in revenues and the private sector whose legitimate businesses are stolen by illicit traders.
Arranza said smuggling or the illicit introduction of goods into a country to evade the payment of duties and taxes cost the Philippines $25.8 billion in 2011 alone.
This was the finding of the Washington, DC-based watchdog, Global Financial Integrity (GFI). According to a study that it conducted, GFI found that a fourth of all goods imported into the Philippines were not reported to the Bureau of Customs.
GFI’s analysis further revealed that from 1960 to 2011, $410.5 billion flowed through the Philippines as “illicit funds.” Out of this amount, $277.6 billion resulted from underreporting goods shipped into the Philippines.4
These staggering numbers are proof of the systemic problem plaguing customs administration in the country.
While the government and the Bureau of Customs (BOC), in particular, have recently undertaken reforms to address the problem of smuggling and implemented measures to improve the customs bureau, the Fight Illicit Trade movement (“Fight IT”) believes that more can be done.
“One way of highlighting the menace of smuggling is for the customs bureau to publish the declared import prices of frequently smuggled goods,” asserted Fight IT Chairman Jess Arranza. “This is consistent with the BOC’s mandate under the Tariff and Customs Code to prevent and suppress smuggling and other customs fraud,” he added.
Arranza also stated that posting such information on the bureau’s website adheres to the principles under the Revised Kyoto Convention that the necessary information regarding customs shall be provided to interested parties, and that customs bureaus shall maximize the use of information technology.
By posting the import prices of frequently smuggled goods on the customs bureau’s website, the general public has access to such vital information on a 24/7 basis. The concerned citizens can also readily alert authorities if they come across suspected smuggled products.