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Duterte asks Congress to allot P7.8B for BoC

CEBU, Philippines - President Rodrigo Duterte is asking Congress to appropriate P7.8 billion for the budget of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) next year.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, in a statement, said that Duterte stated this request in the “President’s Budget Message” for fiscal year 2018.

The document traditionally explains and incorporates the highlights of the proposed national budget.

Of that budget, P4.2 billion would be needed for hiring of more than 3,000 personnel, which would practically double its current workforce next year, while the P3.6 billion would serve as the BOC’s budget for 2018.

The money, Duterte explained, will be used “to implement an aggressive campaign against smuggling which deprives us, on average, of more than P165.5 billion in potential revenues yearly.”

The president enumerated the “anti-smuggling activities” to be funded by the proposed appropriations, including “the enhancement of cyber security for all ports and the acquisition of speedboats, firearms and other tactical equipment for better revenue collection.”

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"In addition to the BOC’s budget, we have tucked in an additional P4.2 billion under the (Fiscal Year) 2018 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF). This will finance the BOC restructuring, to fill up its more than 3,000 vacant positions, capacitate personnel, improve systems and modernize facilities,” Duterte said, in his message to legislators.

Recto said that based on his research, there is a total of 6,264 authorized permanent positions in the BOC, however, only 3,031 are filled, leaving a vacancy of about 3,233.

"These are the items the Palace wants funded and filled.  Although mired in controversy, let us not lose sight of the fact that the BOC is a strategic agency which funds public services,” he added.

This year, the BOC is tasked to collect P468 billion.

BOC’s revenue goal represents a fifth of the total tax revenue target for 2017, or 20 centavos for every taxed peso.

Thus, it can be said that 20 percent of the total length of roads built, 20 percent of classrooms constructed, 20 percent of medicines bought, 20 percent of textbooks distributed this year will be financed by BOC collections.

In real terms, BOC will bankroll 9,498 classrooms out of the 47,492 that will be built. From its collections would come the money to buy 11.2 million textbooks out of the 55.8 million pieces to be procured.

It can also be computed that for every P100 put into the pay envelope of a government worker, P20 had been remitted by the BOC.

In terms of PhilHealth insurance for indigents and senior citizens, BOC’s share would be to enroll 8.76 million individuals.

In the war against terrorists, one in five bullets fired and one in five air sorties flown will be funded by BOC’s collections.

Thus, BOC performance, or nonperformance, is critical to both government operations and dreams. Taxes are what translate election rhetoric into reality.

"Thus the problems being encountered by the BOC, the many scandals it is grappling with must be resolved without delay as a matter of national urgency," Recto said amidst the recent controversy hounding the bureau about the P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs that sneaked out from BOC's jurisdiction. (FREEMAN)



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