Rice tariff valuation improves, leakage bared

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    Imports coming. Less than half of the 3.75 million tons of rice imports approved for January to September have entered the country. (File photo)

    The Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday said collections on rice import tariff have increased following the improved valuation of the crop.

    This developed as the agency announced it will strengthen its post clearance audit of rice importations after it uncovered P1.4 billion worth of leakages due to undervaluation.

    The BOC said in a statement the improved valuation system raised the tariffed value of the grain from an average of P18,178 per metric ton (MT) in January to P27,120 per MT in September.

    This resulted to revenues of P13.08 billion in the first nine months of the year despite declining import volumes resulting from the pandemic-induced global economic slump.

    The valuation of rice imports has increased even with the peso strengthening its value against dollar.

    Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero reported during a recent Department of Finance Executive Committee (Execom) meeting attributed the improvement to closer monitoring on the classification, quantity and weight of the imports.

    Guerrero said from January to October 15, the average valuation of rice increased by 6.5 percent or P1,240 per MT.

    Citing BOC data, Guerrero said from an average valuation of P18, 178.86 in January per ton of rice, this assessment rate increasingly improved to P18,753.82 per ton in March, to P20,503.07 in May and to P27,120 in September.

    “The collections are down because the import volumes are also down, but the average valuation—the value over volume—started to improve,” Guerrero said in his report.

    As a result, Guerrero said the BOC was able to collect P1.29 billion in duties from 223,279 MT of rice imports in January valued at P4.058 billion based on an average valuation of P18,178.86 per MT, and collected P1.19 billion from a much lower volume of 176,768 MT, but valued at P3.55 billion in August because the average value that month was pegged at a higher P20,100.54 per MT.

    From January to September, the BOC collected P13.09 billion in duties from 2 million MT of rice imports, overshooting the minimum amount of P10 billion earmarked annually for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

    Meanwhile, the BOC in a separate statement said.

    Its Post Clearance Audit Group (PCAG) has heightened its campaign against smuggling of imported agricultural products.

    BOC’s regular audit of rice importers for the year 2019 showed a low level of compliance among the audited rice importers where 85.45 percent were found to have violated customs laws and regulations.

    Based on the results of the audit, auditees were found liable for the payment of P1.417 billion in deficiency customs duties, penalties, surcharges, and interest due to undervaluation, misclassification, and/or understatement of freight and insurance charges.

    The audit also found that undervaluation of the declared customs value remains to be the primary risk in revenue collection from rice imports, accounting for P497 million or 36.08 percent of the total deficiency assessment.