THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) said it missed its first half revenue target by about P2 billion but remained confident of hitting its goal for the full year.

At a news conference at the BoC Tuesday, the agency reported total collections of P303.01 billion in the six months to June, or 99.3% of the P305.06 billion target.

The second-biggest revenue-collection agency’s revenue rose 8.6% year-on-year during the half.

Collections in June increased to P51.298 billion from P50.049 billion a year earlier, though they were down from P58.168 billion generated in May.

“On track kami to meet the target (We are on track to meet the target). Well, we’ve been monitoring it and tumatas naman ang assessment rate natin (our assessment rate is improving),” BoC Assistant Commissioner of the Post Clearance Audit Group Vincent Philip C. Maronilla told the BusinessWorld in a chance interview.

Mr. Maronilla also said the agency is currently “projected” to raise P677 billion in 2019.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), which sets the government’s official macroeconomic assumptions and fiscal program, has set a full-year collection target for BoC at P661 billion this year, equivalent to 3.4% of GDP, in its medium-term program released on July 18.

For the coming years, the DBCC has set target collections for the BoC of P731 billion in 2020, P813 billion in 2021 and P900 billion in 2022.

BoC Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero has said the agency is experiencing revenue leakage due to bribery and undervaluation of goods by some brokers and importers in connivance with BoC employees.

Mr. Guerrero said such settlements can be traced back to some traders and brokers trying to negotiate with some Customs employees and even bribe them to cheapen costs and widen budget.

‘Dun nawawala ang revenue kasi dun pumapasok ngayon ang suhol, sila magpapalusot, sila mag-undervalue para lang makuha nila ‘yung profit margin (that’s how we lose revenue, through bribery, which facilities the release of undervalued goods which improves importers’ profit margins),” he said.

Asked to provide an estimate of corruption-related losses, the BoC had not commented at deadline time

He also urged traders, brokers and fixers to stop negotiating with BoC personnel illegally as the bureau is trying to improve corruption management.

Meanwhile, the BoC said its automation project is 70% complete and will be finished by the end of 2019, booting the chances of achieving the collection target.

Automation “(addresses) our objective of zero contact… To reduce ‘yung sinsabi nating (the so-called) personal follow ups… (to achieve) transaparency in all transactions,” Mr. Guerrero said.

The agency has said it will adopt a zero-contact policy and steer as many transactions as possible online in accordance with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018. — Beatrice M. Laforga