Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to keep a keen eye over the entry of “hot” rice and sugar and to speed up the auction of seized stocks given the current supply and price issues that hound the prime commodities.
Dominguez said the BoC should look closer into the smuggling of these commodities, given that the tight domestic supply of both rice and sugar has prompted unscrupulous traders and other groups to smuggle more of the goods into the country without paying taxes.
In his report, BoC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña told Dominguez that a public auction was held last 17 July for some 75,000 sacks of seized rice stocks from the Sta. Rosa Farm Products Corp.
He said another public auction was held the following day for another 25,000 sacks of rice in line with President Duterte’s instruction to swiftly dispose of rice stocks under BoC custody.
Both auctions generated a total of P177.9 million additional revenues for the BoC, Lapeña said.
The amount “shall be held in escrow pending final resolution of seizure and abandonment proceedings,” Lapeña said at the Department of Finance Executive Committee meeting.
Dominguez told Lapeña to make sure the importers of the seized stocks do not end up buying them at the auction.
In response, Lapeña said the BoC has made sure particular importers were excluded from the proceedings after they asked the National Food Authority for a list of registered rice importers.
Lapeña said the bidding sale of the rice stocks was initially conducted by the BoC because the Bureau of the Treasury needed more time to set up its own auction.
“But next time sir, we will avail of the (auction) system,” Lapeña said.
Earlier, Dominguez ordered the BoC and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to train their sights on the smuggling of rice and four other commodities.
Dominguez told Lapeña and BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay they should focus on rice, fuel, steel, cigarettes and other food and agricultural product such as chicken, onions and garlic in beefing up the governments’ efforts against smuggling.