Thursday, August 20, 2015

BOC: ‘Balikbayan boxes’ being used for technical smuggling

The Bureau of Customs will implement random inspections of balikbayan boxes after it found out that such are being used for “technical smuggling,” a report on GMA News TV's “Balitanghali” said Wednesday.

Customs Deputy Commissioner Agaton Uvero said the balikbayan boxes are being used by technical smugglers who want to avoid paying the right taxes.

“Sa mga report namin ginagamit kasi iyong balikbayan or kababayan box ng mga regular traders. So hindi na totoong pang-balikbayan iyong mga ipinapadala na mga second hand na mga gamit, second hand na damit, o second hand na mga appliances kundi brand new na mga gamit na pang negosyo na at paninda,” Uvero said.

The contents of each balikbayan box should not exceed $500 based on the BOC's Memorandum Circular 7990.

Uvero said the government loses some P50 million per month due to technical smuggling, which might prompt them to require senders of balikbayan boxes to fully disclose the box's contents.

“Every time there's spot checking nandoon iyong presence ng consolidator tapos siguro in an area where there are security cameras tapos nandoon iyong customs,” he said.

Meanwhile, some overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong were asked to open the balikbayan boxes they were going to send to the Philippines as part of a random inspection measure. The items found inside ranged from items discarded by their employers and various second-hand materials.

The OFWs also relayed their fears that taxes for sending balikbayan boxes would increase. The BoC clarified that only taxes on balikbayan boxes from the US have increased, from P200 to P300.

The Philippines is the recipient of some 400,000 balikbayan boxes every month, a number that doubles as the Christmas season nears. —Andrei Medina/KBK/JJ, GMA News 

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