THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) on Wednesday said it surpassed its reduced collection target by nearly a third in August, although year-to-date revenues were still down as import volume continued to be affected by strict lockdown measures.

Citing preliminary data, BoC said in a statement it collected P44.631 billion last month, exceeding its P33.675-billion target by P10.96 billion. This marked the third straight month the bureau exceeded its revenue goal, which was slashed amid an economic slowdown.

“The BoC’s positive revenue collection performance (against the monthly target) is attributed to the improved valuation and intensified collection efforts of all the ports,” it said.

However, the August collection was still 16.7% lower than the P53.59 billion posted in August 2019, based on separate data from the Bureau of the Treasury.

The decline was largely due to lower import volume, Vincent Philip C. Maronilla, assistant commissioner heading the Post Clearance Audit Group and the BoC’s spokesman, said in a Viber message.

“Although the volume is starting to increase, it’s still down compared with the same period last year,” he added, without providing details.

Customs said nine of the 17 collection districts — Tacloban, Zamboanga, Aparri, Limay, Clark, Cebu, Subic, Cagayan De Oro and Davao — exceeded their targets last month.

In the eight months to August, the bureau generated P347.636 billion, 3.95% higher than its P334.44-billion target for the period but still lower by 15.5% year on year.

The impact of the strict lockdown from mid-March to May on trade volume continued to hurt the bureau’s collections, according to Mr. Maronilla.

Official data showed merchandise imports dropped by 29% from a year ago to $39.03 billion in the first half.

“We are, however, confident we can recover the deficit in the next few months,” he added.

Customs must collect P506.15 billion for the full year 2020, 6.6% less than the previous goal of P542 billion and nearly a third lower than its pre-pandemic target of P730 billion.

Much of the country was placed under a strict lockdown from mid-March to May before quarantine rules were slowly eased starting June.

Metro Manila is now under a general community quarantine until Sept. 30. — Beatrice M. Laforga