Customs tops collection target for 8th straight month

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forfeited goods
Customs personnel destroy seized goods in Kawit, Cavite in this Sept. 29 official photo release.

THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) surpassed its collection target for the eighth straight month in September, Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña told lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday.

The bureau increased collections by P1.61 billion or nearly a third to P52.1 billion from P40.26 billion in September last year as 15 out of 17 ports exceeded their targets.

September collection also topped that month’s P50.49-billion target by 3.18%, according to data released by the bureau.

“This is the eighth straight month that we have hit our target for this year,” Mr. Lapeña told members of the House Committee on Ways and Means, noting that “15 ports were able to hit the target for the month.”

The Customs chief also reported that the eight months to September saw the bureau raking in P435.83 billion, increasing by 34.6% or P112.01 billion from collections in last year’s comparable period and exceeding the P417.49-billion January-September 2018 target by P18 billion or about 4.3%.

The bureau is tasked to collect P598 billion this year, 30.52% more than the P458.18-billion actual collections in 2017.

The eight-month collection is now 72.9% of the full-year target.

In its hearing on Monday, the House Ways and Means committee cited the need to review the law that rewards and penalizes the government’s revenue collectors for their performance.

Committee chairman Rep. Estrellita B. Suansing of Nueva Ecija’s first district asked Lapeña to draft an amendment to the law to incorporate his “one-strike policy.”

“We will revisit,” Ms. Suansing told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview.

Ngayon kasi (Now) what he’s saying is effective ‘yung kanyang one-strike policy,” she noted.

“We are asking him now to draft an amendment for consideration of the committee.”

The committee was acting on House resolutions seeking ways to improve implementation of Republic Act No. 9335, or the Lateral Attrition Act of 2005.

The law provides a rewards-and-sanction system for the BoC and Bureau of Internal Revenue in a bid to encourage their officials and employees to exceed their collection targets.

The law provides that collectors that miss their target by 7.5% risk sanctions, but recent practice gave them six months to shape up.

Under the “one-strike policy” adopted by Mr. Lapeña shortly after he took over the bureau in August last year, however, erring collectors risk prompt transfer.

“I implemented the one-strike policy… because the problem with… Customs when I assumed [the top post] is corruption and the low revenue collection,” he said.

“So I had to devise a way to accomplish the marching order of the President (Rodrigo R. Duterte).” — Charmaine A. Tadalan