BOC Looks Into Steel Importation

MANILA, Philippines --- The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is conducting a profiling of all steel importers to validate reports that some of them violated Customs laws by engaging in alleged undervaluation of their steel importations.

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon has ordered a Post Entry Audit on all steel importations to substantiate the allegations that some steel importers defrauded government with millions of pesos in taxes.

The allegations were raised by the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute which alerted Biazon on the pernicious illegal activity of some steel importers.

''Just as what we have done with other questioned companies, we profile them then do a post entry audit. Since other steel imports have been questioned before, we issued reference prices for shipments to be compared with,'' said Biazon in a text message.

''We must remember that we are operating under transaction value method of valuation, so the prices are just used as references. Disputes on value are sent to the VCRC (Valuation and Classification Review Commitee) or post entry audit,'' he added.

The sweeping conduct of PEA came after Biazon ordered a probe on the reported cases of technical smuggling of steel products, which the PISI said ''defrauded the government of needed revenues.''

There were 15 erring companies were reportedly engaged in the undervaluation of the steel importations.

They are based in Davao, Cebu, Metro Manila and Subic.

For its part, the Concerned Group of Importers said fictitious importers are being used as ''conduits'' to technical smuggling by their alleged ''mother companies,'' which facilitate the incoming steel shipments.

It referred these firms as the traders and manufacturers of imported steel wire products, ranging from steel wire to wire rods.

''The goods are delivered from Customs (zones) directly to the warehouses of their mother companies and not to the warehouses of the unscrupulous importers,'' CGI said.

CGI said there is another importer of steel billets stealing revenues from the BOC by not declaring the right weight and volume of its shipments at the ports.

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