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Dominguez readies Customs reforms

Magtulis, Prinz (2016, June 15). The Philippine Star. Dominguez readies Customs reforms. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/06/15/1592969/dominguez-readies-customs-reforms

In this April 2016 photo, Incoming Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon speaks at a press conference at the Philippine Star building in Manila. Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV
In this April 2016 photo, Incoming Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon speaks at a press conference at the Philippine Star building in Manila. Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV

To rid agency of ‘most corrupt’ tag

MANILA, Philippines – The incoming administration will initiate reform measures at the Bureau of Customs to rid the agency of corrupt practices, incoming finance secretary Cesar Dominguez said yesterday.

“The public is telling us something and we better listen. Are we going to change? Otherwise we will have to force it,” Dominguez said.

“The perception of Customs as the most corrupt agency has to stop,” he added.

Dominguez met with outgoing Customs commissioner Alberto Lina and his successor, Nicanor Faeldon to facilitate the transition at the agency.

ustoms’ tag of being “most corrupt” came from a survey of Social Weather Stations in August last year where it was rated “very bad” by businessmen. Lina could not be reached for comment yesterday. The Department of Finance (DOF) oversees revenue offices such as Customs.

Under incoming president Duterte, Faeldon said the BOC would focus more on trade facilitation instead of just revenue collections.

Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The bureau, which traditionally accounts for a fifth of state revenues, had persistently fallen below its collection targets and was even down two percent from previous year as of the first quarter.

Specifically, Customs collected P90.5 billion as of March, lower than P92.3 billion raised in the same period last year, Treasury data showed.

“Performance indicators should contain grading on ease of doing business and facility of trade,” Faeldon said in the same statement.

Transparency will also be prioritized, Faeldon said, adding he will improve accuracy in product valuations by adopting a “trade transparency unit” similar in the US.

Valuations are used as bases for the amount of Customs duties. Under the present administration, weekly valuations of select products were made public through the Customs website.

According to Faeldon, there should be a “daily” monitoring of shipment valuation coupled with updated scanning systems to prevent smuggling.

On the flip side, Faeldon said he would keep the ongoing graveyard shifts and 24/7 operations of Customs personnel, which was meant to declog ports.

For his part, Dominguez said he would continue filing charges against smugglers and erring Customs officials under separate programs to deter illicit trade and raise revenues.

Dominguez, however, expressed dismay that no Customs officer has been fired despite pending cases with the Ombudsman.

As of May 15, there were a total of 282 cases against revenue officials filed by the DOF’s Revenue Integrity Protection Service, 157 of which were filed since 2010.

The cases involved 282 personalities, 216 of whom were sued before the Ombudsman, 61 before the Civil Service Commission and five were referred to their concerned agencies for action.

Of the persons sued, 24 were dismissed from office under President Aquino, while 29 others were suspended and six were fined, DOF data showed.

“We will file as many cases against violators… as we have evidence to justify such actions,” Dominguez said.

“As leaders of the institution, you have to send the message down…,” he said in the statement.