THE Commission on Audit (CoA) said it found that the Bureau of Customs (BoC) released without authorization cargoes that did not pay over P5 million in fees, among other irregular transactions.
“Records disclosed that there are 97 out of the 375 sample cargoes are released without paying the PMS (post-entry modification of Single Administrative Document) additional assessments totaling P5.101 million,” according to CoA’s 2018 audit report.
It added, “At the MICP (Manila International Container Port), 104 Import Entries of Imported Motor Vehicles costing P104.621 million were processed and released to importers even in the absence of a Certificate of Authority to Import (CAI) and Release Certificate (RC) from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).”
“In PoM (Port of Manila), containers totaling 105, with an estimated value of P69.68 million, subjected to Alert Orders, were illegally released without proper authorization,” CoA said.
The state auditors recommended that the BoC adhere to proper procedure before releasing cargoes.
Further, CoA also noted that the BoC allowed 6,985 containers to overstay in its storage areas, ranging from 30 days up to more than 25 years.
“Most of the overstaying perishable goods were imported in (calendar year) 2018, the biggest of which are importations of rice and refined sugar which are subject to forfeiture proceedings due to lack of necessary permits from concerned government agencies,” CoA said in its report.
It added, “880 containers were without declared information and uninspected, thus cannot be offered for auction and its contents may pose risk or hazard to the Port.”
The state auditors also noted that there were 17 containers containing relief goods and donations meant for various government agencies, non-government organizations, and the Philippine Red Cross.
“The inability of the Ports to conduct the necessary disposal proceedings in accordance with the CMTA (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act) and delays in the legal review of overstaying containers resulted to loss of government revenues representing proceeds of disposal or collection of assessed duties and taxes due from these cargoes,” said the report.
CoA recommended that BoC inventory and immediately inspect all overstaying containers and expedite the release of goods.
It added, “[We recommended that BoC] prioritize disposition of perishable goods to maximize revenue collection.”
CoA also recommended the fast-tracking the release of items for donation.
Asked to comment, BoC said it has yet to release an official statement but Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero said he has acted on some of the findings.
“Many of the CoA findings which where observed in 2018 were already acted upon. We are just consolidating the data,” said Mr. Guerrero in a text message to BusinessWorld on Tuesday. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras