MANILA, November 26, 2004 (STAR) By Rey Arquiza - With just over a month to go before yearend, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) has already met its assigned tax collection target of P114.3 billion for the current year with most of its major ports reporting a surplus of at least P200 million each to cover for any unexpected shortfall, which is unlikely, for the month of December.

Based on unofficial figures for November, the tax collection reports nationwide showed that the BoC has again exceeded its monthly target of P9.949 billion with a surplus of more than P600 million, with still four remaining days before the month ends.

So far, the BoC has a standby surplus of almost P7 billion which it has accumulated from its improved tax collection performance from January up to November this year. The month of December would further increase the cash surplus given the expected arrival of a big number of shipments during the month, BoC said.

Leading the tax collection performance are the Port of Batangas, the Port of Manila, and the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in North Harbor. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which used to report a surplus in its monthly assigned tax collection target, has barely met its goal due to decrease in the volume of arriving shipments.

The Port of Batangas has already earned for the BoC P3 billion more than its assigned yearly tax collection target of P13 billion, while the Port of Manila posted a surplus in tax collection target for the whole nine months of more than P500 million.

The MICP also posted a surplus of more than P200 million in tax collection for the nine-month period. The other ports such as Subic and Cebu also contributed to the surplus in tax collection, particularly for the current month. Port officials attributed the positive tax collection performance in their respective districts to measures which have been set in place to contain technical smuggling.

Customs Commissioner George Jereos said he is optimistic that the bureau would easily meet its yearly assigned tax collection target of P114 billion with a further increase in surplus, which he expects to reach P10 billion.

"I would be happy to report to President Arroyo by year-end that the Bureau of Customs has not only performed well in its role as one of the two revenue earning government agencies but has contained substantially technical smuggling which accounts for the increase in tax collection," Jereos said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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