By Chino S. Leyco
The Bureau of Customs is optimistic that the government could capture at least half of the estimated foregone revenues due to illicit fuel trade once its anti-oil smuggling scheme is implemented in the second-semester.
On the sidelines of the Anti-illicit Trade Summit yesterday, Customs Director Yogi Filemon L. Ruiz said the bureau could proceed with the long-delayed fuel marking system’s implementation by July this year.
According to Ruiz, the Customs bureau already held trial test runs in Subic a month ago.
“Around P40 billion is the tax leakage due to smuggling of fuel, that’s the figure that we have I don’t know if it’s the conservative figure,” Ruiz told reporters. “Hopefully we can recover [that].”
The Customs official estimated that the bureau could collect at least P20 billion in additional fuel taxes once the oil marking scheme is imposed in the second-half of this year.
Petroleum duties currently account for about 24 percent of the Customs bureau’s annual revenue take.
“With the fuel marking and the remaining six-month implementation, hopefully we can recover more than half [of the estimated foregone revenues due to fuel smuggling],” Ruiz said.
Earlier, Finance Undersecretary Antonette C. Tionko said they were planning to implement the anti-oil smuggling scheme in the third-quarter this year following its “intensive research” to properly address the country’s problem on illicit fuel trade.
Tionko said the technical working group (TWG) has already approved the terms of reference (TOR) for the fuel marking system, which will be implemented on both oil imports and locally refined petroleum products.
“The TWG has already approved the terms of reference… it should be out,” Tionko told reporters. “We are just ironing certain issues to the procurement in DBM [Department of Budget and Management] because we are the ones who will fund it.”
Ian Ralby, a recognized global expert on energy security, had said that nearly a third of the country’s petroleum products comes from illicit operations, highlighting the need for the Philippines’ fuel marking scheme.