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Gov't sets aside P500-M to curb oil smuggling

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The Aquino administration has allotted P500 million for the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to set up high-technology solutions to the rampant smuggling of petroleum and other high-value imports.

LPG/MA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty on Monday said the fresh funding, contained in the proposed P1.816-trillion General Appropriations Act of 2012, would help the BoC build a Petroleum Inventory System and acquire an Online X-ray Imaging System.

Once completed, he said the Petroleum Inventory System Project will enable the BoC to keep a closer track of all oil imports from which the bureau derives about 17 percent of its annual revenue collection.

Ty, who is a member of the House energy committee, made the statement in reaction to the filing of P1.05-billion oil smuggling case by the BoC against Petronas Energy Philippines Inc.

The suit brought to P44.33 billion the combined worth of smuggling cases filed by the BoC against seven oil importers over the last 15 months.

Smuggling cases were previously filed against Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. (worth P24.48 billion); Cross Country Oil & Petroleum Corp. (P8.5 billion); Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. (P5.1 billion); Jetti Petroleum Inc. (P4.1 billion); Oilink International Corp. (P700 million); and Filpride Resources Inc. (P400 million).

Ty also urged the BoC to develop its own laboratories and staff needed to suppress the technical smuggling of petroleum, which has been hurting the government in a big way in terms of revenues.

"The bureau should not have to rely on other parties to perform the initial chemical analysis on samples of imported oil products," he said.

The LPG/MA party-list lawmaker noted that some refined petroleum shipments are being misrepresented as mere additives or unfinished products so as to avoid payment of additional import duties and taxes.

As to the Online X-ray Imaging System Project, Ty said it would allow Customs officers to electronically capture, distribute, and share portraits of shipments and information from two pilot sites -- the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port.

The BoC collects duties and value-added taxes on imports.

The bureau is expected to contribute P365.1 billion or 25.3 percent of the aggregate P1.446 trillion in tax revenues that government hopes to collect next year.

By Lilybeth G. Ison-PNA




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