Farmers’ group hit worsening technical smuggling of rice in the PH

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A big group of farmers hit at the continued technical smuggling of rice in the country.

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), one of the country’s largest farmers’ groups, said that rice smuggling by way of undervaluation and misdeclarations even worsened. The Bureau of Customs (BOC), however, gave the assurance that it already acted on such incidents.

The FFF noted that a large disparity exists between rice prices at the shipments’ points of origin as declared by importers and the BOC’s reference values, with an average of P945 a ton last year. This ballooned, however, to P2,416 per ton from January to May of this year, resulting to estimated revenue losses of P1.6 billion during that period alone.

The FFF called on the BOC to fast-track its assessment of rice importers suspected of undervaluing their rice shipments between March and June last year, and to make sure that rice importation laws are strictly followed.

The national chairman of the FFF, Raul Montemayor hopes that the BOC will resolve all pending cases quickly and put a stop to undervaluation.

“We ask the BOC to be transparent and reveal how many import shipments are under investigation … and what monetary and other penalties have been imposed on erring importers. We are interested not only in who were caught but also on those who might have gotten away,” Montemayor said.

Earlier, the BOC said that its campaign against rice smuggling continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic, where raids have been conducted on warehouses suspected of being used as storage facilities for illegally imported stocks of this essential grain.

The customs bureau also assured that rice imported by private importers during the pandemic period will still be subjected to “post-modification and post-audit” to prevent undervaluation and assure proper assessment and payment of the correct duties and taxes.

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