MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Tuesday, April 2, announced plans to implement a port accreditation system to curb oil smuggling.
The agency said that only a few ports would be designated for importation of sensitive commodities such as oil.
“The port accreditation system will prevent ‘port shopping’ and hinder unethical importers from literally evading tax collection,” said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
Oil firm Petron Corp. earlier complained about rampant oil smuggling in the country.
A Philippine Daily Inquirer report published on Tuesday, April 2, quoted company CEO Ramon Ang as saying the country loses P30 billion to P40 billion in revenues every year due to oil smuggling. Ang said smuggled oil “now accounts for at least a third of the total volume sold in the market.”
Monthly reports, import plans
The accreditation program will obligate ports to meet standards and technical requirements. Once accredited, the ports will be required to submit monthly reports to the DOF.
Data from the monthly reports will be compared with figures from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). The data must tally on a per volume, per vessel basis.
The DOF added that commodity importers would be required to submit annual rolling import plans. The documents must include data such as quantity, type, source and the location of the intended port arrival.
According to DOE data, oil demand in the Philippines stood at 106.9 million barrels in 2011.
There is however a discrepancy when this figure is tallied against Bureau of Customs (BOC) data. According to BOC records, oil importation amounted to just 67.6 million barrels during the year. This means the remaining 39.3 million barrels needed to cover the country’s oil demand came from smuggling.
The DOF visited 7 ports eyed for accreditation from February 5 to March 15. The agency is also scheduled to visit the Manila International Container Port, the Port of Manila, the Port of NAIA and the Port of Batangas. – with reports from Christian Bautista/ Rappler.com
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