Govt losing P12b to cement smugglers

THE government is losing P12 billion in revenues from smuggling of cement every year, according to a lawyer of Advocates for Good Governance, and linked some ranking customs officials in the smuggling of cement.

“The smuggled cement from Vietnam floods the local market and sold at a lower price compared to locally produced cement,” advocate lawyer Argee Guevarra said in a press briefing.

Guevarra said he already submitted the names of 12 companies and personalities involved in the smuggling of cement to Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and to conduct an investigation of some customs personnel involved in the illegal activity. 

“We have submitted these to Commissioner Faeldon and urged him to go through all official records of the agency. We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg because our initial submissions may only form part of the bigger scheme, but enough to establish prima facie evidence to warrant the filing of cases of smuggling,” Guevarra said.

He said cement importers were able to declare very low freight charges for as low as $8, or P360 per metric ton when the prevailing charges for similar and other shipments ranged from $19 to $22.90, or P800 to P1,035 per metric ton.

“The shelf life of the cement is only six months but the importers reprocess the imported cement from Vietnam to pass the required quality set by Philippine standard,” he said. 

Pending the outcome of the investigation, he said he will defer to Faeldon in naming the companies involved.

The Bureau of Customs estimates that it loses P547 million in revenues each day to smuggling, or P200 billion each year. 

The amount lost to smuggling each year represented about 18 percent of the budget allotment for social services. This equaled to nearly a fourth of the allocation for economic services, including infrastructure, agriculture, and tourism.

Topics: revenues , smuggling of cement
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