Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Sunday expressed serious doubts on the Bureau of Custom's (BoC) capability to meet its target revenues to support the government's massive infrastructure program due to a high level of corruption in the agency.
"The government can no longer rely on the current leadership of the Bureau of Customs to collect taxes necessary to fund the government's programs, particularly big-ticket infrastructure projects that the government has outlined under its 'Build, Build, Build' program," said Drilon, as he called for heads to roll at the agency, which was at the center of the controversy involving the shipment of 604 kilograms of shabu through the country's main port.
Drilon noted that the BoC is the second biggest tax collecting arm of the government. However, Drilon said that due to a high level corruption, the agency has always failed to meet its target collection.
Citing government data, Drilon said that custom's collection for the first half of the year reached P210.64 billion, still behind its P218.71 billion target for January to June 2017. The agency is targeting to collect P468 billion in 2017.
The failure of the customs to raise revenues, Drilon said, will negatively impact the government's capability to deliver on its promises.
He said that "such a situation forces the government's hands to put the burden of raising revenue on the people by way of increasing taxes."
He said that if only corruption does not thrive in the customs and smuggling is arrested, "the proposal to raise taxes on fuel products will not be necessary to offset a reduction in the personal income taxes."
"Incompetence and complacency has no place in the government especially in an agency as crucial as the BoC," Drilon said.
"Those who were involved in the shipment of this unprecedented P6.4 billion worth of shabu should be made accountable," he added.
"A major revamp in the custom is made necessary by what happened. We can no longer trust the incompetence of its officials led by Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon," Drilon said.
The senator also said that the customs controversy undermines the credibility and effectiveness of the administration's much-hyped anti-illegal drugs campaign.
"It's a slap in the face of the administration whose flagship program is to eradicate illegal drugs. It is bad enough that you lose revenues due to smuggling, but to take advantage of the system to smuggle drugs is far worse," Drilon concluded.
Source: Senate of the Philippines