Customs Q1 collections fall short of goal

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs missed its revenue collection target in the first quarter of the year, but posted double-digit gains from last year.

In a statement, Customs reported it collected P86.501 billion in January to March, 8.73% short of its P94.778-billion goal.

This was however a 25.7% jump from the P68.816 billion collected by the bureau in the first quarter of 2013.

Customs is the country's second biggest revenue generating agency. It accounts for about a fifth of government collections.

Customs said an increase in volume of goods imported, improvements in valuation of imported items and higher number of working days helped shore up collections from the year-ago level. However, it also said the truck ban implemented in the city of Manila weighed on its performance.

The agency began implementing reforms late last year in an effort to plug holes in its collection system. Among the reforms were the appointment of new top-level officials and an order for employees to return to their mother units.

Customs Commissioner John Sevilla said that "far more aggressive" reforms would be implemented over the next 15 months.

These include the re-imposition of pre-shipment inspection for all formal entry cargo, centralized assessment service, and a single set of reference values for major commodities.

For March alone, the agency's P29.313 billion collections were below the target of P33.286 billion, but up 34.43% from the P21.805 billion recorded in March 2013. –