By Anna Leah Gonzales
MANILA – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it will ramp up measures to crack down on illicit tobacco trade in the country.
BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. on the sidelines of the Global Anti-Illicit Trade Summit on Thursday said that tobacco products are considered a major category of smuggled goods.
“The revenue loss for tobacco is huge. And also that’s one of the main reasons why we’re not getting our collection target for excise taxes,” Lumagui said.
Lumagui said that for the first four months of the year, BIR recorded a 20-percent shortfall in the collection of excise tax.
“A large part of that shortfall is attributable to tobacco,” he said.
While Lumagui did not provide the exact figure, data from the BIR showed that the excise tax collection goal for the first four months of the year was PHP112.37 billion.
Lumagui, however, was optimistic that they will be able recover the shortfall.
“We’re doing our best and I’m optimistic in the coming months we will get that. We’re doing everything we can. We will continue doing raids and filing of cases involving illicit trade,” he said.
As one of its efforts to combat illicit tobacco trade, BIR is currently in talks with online selling platforms to discontinue the sale of these illicit products.
“We’re coordinating with them, hopefully we come up with an agreement soon as to how to address it, the proliferation of illicit products in their platforms. They should remove the products being sold there. They should police their own platform,” he said.
Lumagui said there is also a need to improve border controls, enhance inter-agency coordination between the country’s law enforcement agencies, develop a comprehensive legal framework on the sale and trade of products on both brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce platforms, and strictly enforce the applicable laws and regulations against illicit trade. (PNA)