BIR urged to step up drive vs illegal tobacco operations

November 26, 2021 Jester P. Manalastas 160 views

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) was urged to expand its operations against illicit tobacco trade.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda made the call after the bureau reported a decline in the number of strike operations against suspected illicit tobacco purveyors, year-on-year.

“The BIR has been cooperative with the Committee in its fight against leakages in our tax collection system. But I am disappointed in the decline in operations against tobacco smuggling. Illicit trade will always be tempting due to high excise taxes. Enforcement is the only deterrent,” Salceda said.

He added that the Bureau’s efforts will be “crucial, as the next administration, whoever the next President may be, will be unlikely to impose new taxes given the employment situation.”

During the committee on ways and means hearing, the BIR gave updates on the revenue collection data; updated data on the volume of removals and excise tax collections for domestically produced and for domestic consumption, and raw materials and finished products with corresponding excise tax; the list of all registered cigarettes and tobacco brands; report on illicit cigarettes by STRIKE Team and cases filed; domestic sales data, and update on criminal complaint against GB BEM Cigarette Company, Inc. and Global Exprez Inc.

“To Commissioner Dulay’s credit, he has been extremely cooperative with the Committee. This is one of the closest relationships between the Congressional committee and the BIR in recent history. The BIR has granted our every recommendation, so far. We just need to work on enforcement,” Salceda said.

Salceda said he is mulling the creation of a technical working group or a subcommittee, to be chaired by Senior Vice Chair Estrellita Suansing, to oversee efforts against illicit tobacco trade and the abuse of customs bonded warehouses.

The solon said that while Congress has completed the entire Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, enforcement is just as crucial as new taxes.

“It will be extremely important after the pandemic, when employment is just recovering and the government is reluctant to raise new taxes. Plugging the loopholes will be crucial in raising new revenues,” he said.