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BIR taps other agencies in drive vs illicit cigarettes

Mary Grace Padin - The Philippine Star
BIR taps other agencies in drive vs illicit cigarettes
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Internal Revenue deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa said the BIR’s Strike Team would continue to actively coordinate with other government agencies “to curtail further the proliferation of the illicit cigarette trade.”

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with other state agencies to further strengthen the government’s campaign against illicit tobacco trading in the country.

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Internal Revenue deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa said the BIR’s Strike Team would continue to actively coordinate with other government agencies “to curtail further the proliferation of the illicit cigarette trade.”

As part of these efforts, Guballa said the BIR Regional Investigation Division  last Feb. 9 assisted a team led by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in seizing unregistered cigarette-making machines and fake stamps inside a manufacturing facility in Tacloban City.

Meanwhile, Guballa also reported that some senators, during a hearing conducted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, had proposed for the provision of funds to the BIR to assist its Strike Team in gathering intelligence on illicit tobacco trading in the country.  

Aside from the BIR Strike Team, Dominguez said the BOC should also be given a share of this funding proposed by lawmarkers, as it is the main investigating body against cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting.

The DOF has repeatedly underscored the need for heightened government vigilance against illicit smuggling, manufacturing and selling of tobacco products, especially as higher excise taxes has incentivized illegal traders to resort to these activities.

 The BIR and the BOC earlier created a joint task force to intensify their cooperation against traders of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes.

BIR’s Strike Team acts as lead and point coordinator of all the agency’s enforcement activities against smuggled articles and locally manufactured counterfeit excisable products.

 The BOC has also formed its own anti-smuggling task force to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement efforts against the illicit entry of goods. The team is comprised of the BOC’s Intelligence Group, Enforcement Group, and the bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers.

Meanwhile, Dominguez has ordered both agencies to work with their counterparts in China to combat the illicit entry of cigarette-making machines that are being used to manufacture counterfeit tobacco products in the country.

He also urged the BIR to coordinate with the Department of Interior and Local Government in filing charges against local government officials who failed to keep illicit cigarette trading in check in their respective communities.

BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE

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