Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto has underscored the critical role of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in funding President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s socioeconomic agenda and driving the overall progress of the country.
“The BOC is more than the landing point of trade in our country. It is also the starting point of our nation’s progress. For it is in the BOC that emanates the revenues that fund our nation’s dreams and secure its future,” he said during his speech at the BOC’s 122nd Founding Anniversary on February 13, 2024 held at the Rizal Park Hotel.
This year, the government aims to collect PHP 4.3 trillion in revenues, PHP 1 trillion of which will come from the BOC.
“As the second biggest revenue agency, almost 24 centavos of every revenue peso that will be raised this year will be collected by the BOC. And for every budget peso that the government will spend this year, 20 centavos will be generated by the BOC,” Secretary Recto explained.
To better illustrate the significance of the BOC’s collections, Secretary Recto cited examples in relation to expenditures.
For instance, for every 1,000 policemen who will be hired, the BOC will contribute 20 percent of their salaries.
For every 1,000 kilometers of road to be built, the Bureau will fund the first 200 kilometers.
For every 1,000 classrooms to be constructed, the BOC will shoulder the cost of 200 units.
For every 1,000 cancer patients to be treated, the BOC will cover the chemotherapies of 200 of them.
“The bottom line is this: If all government activities under the sun carry a price tag, then 20 percent of each one of them will be paid by you,” he further emphasized.
The Finance Chief reiterated that if the BOC falls short of its revenue targets, it will not just affect the country’s financial standing. Instead, it will impact the future of our children, as any deficit will be covered by debt, much of which they will inherit.
“So the BOC’s target to raise one trillion pesos this year is not a mere ledger entry to be submitted to the government. Rather, it will fund a spreadsheet of programs, including the solutions to the problems that you yourselves encounter every day,” he said.
On top of this, Secretary Recto reminded the BOC of their responsibility to facilitate the seamless trade of goods, which will enhance the ease of doing business and eventually lead to more investments entering the country.
“This ease of doing business is what builds investment-led growth that creates more quality jobs in a land whose talents far outstrip opportunities that could harness them,” he said.
“So you have to balance the necessity of red alerts with the imperative of red carpet reception of goods. What is, however, not welcome is red tape,” the Finance Secretary added.
At the same time, Secretary Recto underscored the BOC’s critical role in safeguarding the country’s borders from illegal drugs that harm the youth, hazardous and substandard products, and goods that threaten people’s health.
Moreover, he said enhanced border patrol is needed to arrest smuggled goods that lead to revenue losses.
“[T]he revenue loss from 50,000 sacks of smuggled rice is 36.7 million pesos, a computation that has come from the BOC itself,” Secretary Recto said.
“This is enough to buy 22,518 bags of fertilizer that can nurture 11.7 square kilometers of rice land,” he added.
Meanwhile, revenue loss from 50,000 liters of gasoline, which is estimated to be around PHP 789,000, can buy one breakfast meal for 47,045 children under the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Secretary Recto urged the Bureau to continuously innovate and ramp up its modernization program to achieve a 100 percent digitalization rate this year to address evolving challenges.
“Pursuant to the President’s orders under Bagong Pilipinas, the BOC must take the lead in our efforts to streamline processes, uphold technological excellence, and facilitate the gears of progress,” he said.
The Finance Chief called for the expeditious implementation of an integrated system for pre-border verification and cross-border electronic invoicing to combat smuggling, misdeclaration, and undervaluation.
In addition, he encouraged the Bureau to continue with its condemnation activities to send out a clear message to smugglers that their days of unscrupulous activities are numbered.
He likewise commended the BOC for establishing the Customs Industry Consultative Council (CICC) which will serve as a vital bridge between the BOC and the business sector to address all issues related to Customs and industry matters.
“I trust that the Council will likewise promote the President’s call to uphold fair and efficient trade practices,” he said.
On the part of the Department of Finance (DOF), the Finance Chief assured the BOC that it will remain a strong supporter of the Bureau as it intensifies its modernization initiatives and efforts to eradicate corruption or inefficiency.
“The President himself has specifically emphasized that we must ensure a future where the BOC remains a symbol of trust, honesty, and efficiency—principles that will nurture a thriving economic environment and form the bedrock of every Filipino’s aspirations,” the Finance Chief said.