THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) wants to implement the fuel- marking program by next month, as it seeks to cap more than half of the revenue leakages by yearend.
“Based on the pronouncements of the Commissioner, gusto nga niya before July ma-implement na natin ’yan (he even wants this implemented before July),” Customs Director for Enforcement and Security Service Yogi Felimon L. Ruiz told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Fight Illicit Trade forum in Makati City.
He said the government loses P40 billion annually in foregone revenues from smuggled fuel.
“Based on the presentation of the BoC, P40 billion ang loss natin (our loss is at P40 billion). Hopefully we can fill that gap with the fuel marking, the P40 billion with the remaining six months, implement natin ’yan (we implement it), hopefully we can recover more than half.”
The Department of Finance said the terms of reference for the fuel-marking program are ready, with a bidding process to begin by the third quarter.
Mr. Ruiz also pointed out, however, that the BoC has already pilot-tested the program in Subic last month to prepare for the actual rollout, and is also readying the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“The fuels that have been marked, mas malaking deterrent ’yan sa smugglers (that’s a bigger deterrent on smugglers),” said the BoC official. This is one of the priority programs of the Commissioner as part of the enforcement efforts of the BoC. It will really help because smugglers will have a hard time.”
“Ongoing ’yung pag-draft natin ng IRR (A draft of the IRR is under way), but for sure malayo na ’yung (in) two months it will be implemented,” he added.
The fuel-marking program is among the tax administration measures mandated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, or Republic Act No. 10963, wherein imported or locally refined fuel is marked with colored dyes to determine whether batches of petroleum products have gone through the supply chain legally and respective taxes have been paid.
If products are found to have no markings, it will be used as evidence against erring fuel importers or manufacturers for nonpayment of proper taxes.
However, fuel is not the only product frequently smuggled through Customs ports. The BoC last month seized P18.5 million worth of imported cigarettes from China bearing local brands such as Mighty and Marvels, and another P36.5 million last week.
Mr. Ruiz said the BoC has started tightening its watch on smuggled products after creating a joint task force with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the addition of more security equipment.
“Right now, I think they will be having a hard time bringing it in through smuggling (because the) Commissioner, aside from adding personnel, (also added) X-ray machines,” Mr. Ruiz said. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan