THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) has seized unregistered cigarette-making machinery in various locations as part of a broader crackdown on tax evasion in the tobacco industry, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.
In a statement, the DoF said that the BIR “seized four unlicensed cigarette making machines, six cigarette-packing machines and a filter-making machine along with fake cigarette tax stamps inside the San Simon Industrial Park in Pampanga. The bureau reported to the Finance chief that the machines were smuggled into the country.”
“Two factories in Cagayan de Oro, meanwhile, yielded unregistered cigarette-making machines, packaging machines and a filter-making machine during recent operations also conducted by the BIR strike team,” it said, adding that various materials used to manufacture cigarettes were also seized.
The BIR and Bureau of Customs (BoC) have so far seized a total of 531 mastercases of smuggled cigarettes under various brands.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said machinery for cigarette making is classified under “controlled items.”
“You need to trace where these machines came from. Who are the people behind this? How did these machines get in?” Mr. Dominguez was quoted as saying to the Customs bureau during their Executive Committee meeting on Monday.
Customs Deputy Commissioner Edward James A. Dy Buco meanwhile said that the unsanctioned entry of the machinery will be investigated, as well as the possible connivance of government officials.
The BIR, meanwhile, said that the seized machinery “will be properly disabled to prevent their further usage.”
The proliferation of illicit cigarettes may have been encouraged by the raising of tobacco taxes to P32.5 per cigarette pack from P30 under Republic Act. No 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act. By 2022, the excise tax will increased gradually to P40.
The DoF also seeks to raise tobacco taxes further, saying that it will support Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao’s bill that slaps a P60 tax per pack on cigarettes. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan