THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) said collections fell 2.58% in February on declining cargo volumes as the coronavirus outbreak continued to disrupt global supply chains.

The declining volumes are estimated to have resulted in around P2.7 billion worth of foregone revenue from Customs charges.

A BoC document obtained by Businessworld indicates that Customs revenue fell to P41.671 billion in February from P42.774 billion a year earlier, reversing the year-on-year gains made in January.

Cargo volumes processed by the BoC fell 6.67% year-on-year in February to 8.146 million tons.

Cargoes from China fell 34.67% to 936,246 tons over a period covering most of February.

“The volume of importation from China decreased by 34.67% for the period Feb. 1-28, 2020. This resulted in a revenue loss of P2.7 billion,” according to the document.

This was followed by a 29.92% drop in imports from Vietnam, as well as declines in volumes from Thailand (25.04%), South Korea (22.75%), Malaysia (17.79%).

Meanwhile, import volumes rose on cargoes from Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, the US and Saudi Arabia.

On the sidelines of an event in Makati City on Tuesday, Finance Undersecretary Antonette C. Tionko said separately that the department is seeing lower collections from the bureau as import volumes decline due to the outbreak of coronavirus, formally known as Covid-19.

Ms. Tionko said the reduction in revenues will be minimal this were likely offset by taxes from other goods such as fuel products.

In the two months to February, however, collections rose 5.01% year-on-year to P94.509 billion.

Import volumes for the period fell 5.34% year-on-year to 17.839 million tons.

By number of containers, imports from all countries fell 8.08% year-on-year in the first two months, with a 22.5% contraction in February overwhelming the 3.28% gain in January.

Containers from China and Hong Kong posted the largest year-on-year decline, dropping by 52.8% and 37.9% in February, respectively.

Meanwhile, Ms. Tionko said the government continues to monitor affected sectors and companies to evaluate how to help them cushion the blow on their businesses.

“We’re looking at ways to do that right now, not just the DoF, but through other agencies… let’s see how we can… maybe to waive fees, just to give them relief, in the event that this Covid-19 becomes very widespread,” she said.

At the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Ms. Tionko said tax collections will also likely fall as businesses reported lower sales during the period.

This year, the BIR is tasked to collect P2.576 trillion or 78% of the P3.3-trillion target set for the two biggest tax collection agencies, while the BoC is expected to collect P731.235 billion. — Beatrice M. Laforga