CUSTOMS Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz inspects the numerous unpaid and abandoned balikbayan boxes at a warehouse in Sta. Ana, Manila, Oct. 27. — PHILIPPINE STAR/EDD GUMBAN

By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, Reporter

THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) raised its revenue collection target for 2023 to P901.3 billion, as the Philippine peso is expected to further depreciate against the US dollar.

“Based on the emerging target approved by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the Customs bureau is expected to generate P901.3 billion in revenue next year,” according to the BoC Financial Service.

“The emerging collection target is (18%) higher by P135.8 billion compared to the 2023 Budget of Expenditure and Sources of Financing (BESF) program level of P765.6 billion due to higher exchange rate assumptions despite lower projected Dubai crude oil price and slower import growth compared with 2022,” the BoC Financial Service added.

The DBCC earlier this month upwardly revised the peso-dollar exchange rate assumption to P55-59 in 2023, from P51-55 previously. Economic managers noted the peso “continues to depreciate due to heightened global uncertainties and aggressive monetary policy tightening of the US Federal Reserve.”

According to the DBCC’s latest assumptions, Dubai crude oil price is expected to slip to $80-100 per barrel in 2023, from $98-100 this year.

The DBCC also lowered the imports growth target to 4% in 2023, from 6% previously. This is much slower than this year’s 20% growth goal.

Next year, Customs is expected to collect P570.3 billion in value-added tax (VAT) from imports, P207.4 billion in excise taxes, P105.1 billion in import duties and P18.5 billion in other fees.

The BoC’s collection target for 2023 is 24.9% higher than this year’s P721.5-billion target, which has already been exceeded.

From January to Dec. 27, the BoC has already collected P851 billion. This figure is 18% higher than its target for the period and exceeds last year’s collection by 32%.

“We are ending the year with so much surplus and this will be (used) for more projects and services that the government can deliver… we can make our infrastructure and education better… and we can give more assistance to those in need,” Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon L. Ruiz said in a virtual presser on Wednesday.

From January to Dec. 21, the BoC raised P292.49 million from public auctions.

The BoC also recorded 671 seizures of smuggled goods valued at P23.582 billion from January to Dec. 22. Of this total, seized agricultural products amounted to P1.226 billion and seized illegal drugs were worth P11.953 billion.

Mr. Ruiz said that the BoC has been implementing a “whole of government” approach in its effort to stop smuggling.

“This is not only a case that involves the BoC, it involves other agencies. If prices are high, that means to say there is a scarcity of supply. If supply is scarce, it means Customs has been effective. (However) we have to look at how this would economically affect ordinary consumers,” he said.

“This is not an overnight solution. We’ve set in place several mechanisms to address this, especially in the first quarter of 2023. You will see the effect of these processes.”

Mr. Ruiz said that the BoC is looking into the possibility of donating smuggled agricultural goods to Kadiwa stores.

“We can also donate to agencies that are directly addressing relief operations and can better utilize these seized agricultural products subject to their regulatory inspections. If they can certify these products are fit for human consumption, we are very open to that,” he said.

The DBCC targets to raise P3.7 trillion in revenues next year, higher than the P3.5 trillion goal this year.