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Lacson says P82 billion lost in tax revenue from Chinese imports in 2017.

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said the Philippine government lost more than P82 billion in revenue from the import of Chinese products in 2017.

This as he pressed members of the country's economic team to explain and provide the actual amount of the government's tax revenue loss.

Citing figures from the World Trade Integrated Trade Solution during the Senate finance committee's budget hearing, Lacson said there is a discrepancy of more than $13 billion on the products imported from China as reported by the Philippines and China.

In 2017, the Philippines reported $18,477,818,000 worth of Chinese imports but China reported $32,065,932,000 worth of products exported to the Philippines.

Subtracting the amount reported by the Philippines to that reported by China, 'we're looking at a discrepancy of $13,588,000,000,' Lacson said.

'Nawalan kagad tayo ng P82 billion in 2017 and this happens every year. We're only talking of China, we're not even talking of other exporting countries to the Philippines,' the senator said.

Lacson then asked the finance department for an estimated overall amount of the Philippines' tax revenue loss.

'So how much are we losing year in and year out in leakages? And these are documents ah, hindi 'to speculation, hindi 'to chismis. Documents don't lie,' Lacson said.

'Di ba nakakahiya yung $18 billion yung record natin tapos $32 billion naman yung record ng China, so we're does the discrepancy of $13 billion go?' he asked.

Finance Secretary Gil Beltran responded by saying that the perhaps the problem lies in the 'loopholes' in the country's tax laws.

'We give too many exemptions,' Beltran said.

But Lacson countered him: 'There's no tax laws involved here. These are leakages in the implementation of trade. Pinaguusapan na lang natin dito 12 percent VAT, and right away we have lost-in 2017 alone-P82 billion.'

Beltran then assured that government hopes 'to improve the discovery of these tax cheats.'

Meanwhile, Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua expressed concern that the Philippines may be losing millions in tax revenue due to the more than 500 ecozones across the country.

'My other concern po, as you know as I presented in the tax reform hearings, [there are] more than 500 ecozones in the Philippines, all are separate customs territories. With possibly a lot of leakage. The leakage that we are estimating from all of these is up to P63 billion in 2017, so there's a combination of factors under evaluation, possibly tax evasion,' he said.

He added that the lack of oversight of the correction agencies also contributes to such leakages.

'So, we would like to address more holistically,' Chua added.

Lacson believes that majority of these leakages are 'self-inflicted.'

'Self-inflicted meaning may nakikinabang dito, [Bureau of] Customs. So how about automation? Computerized na tayo pero there's no automation. In China, in Singapore, and in other countries wala nang human intervention,' he said.

'Everything is done online so, right away if we automate, we eliminate leakages di ba?' he added.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Aug 29, 2019
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