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Top Gear Philippines

 

The government is doing a good job of curbing vehicle smuggling in the country, according to the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP). The group of auto-parts makers specifically lauded the Bureau of Customs "for its renewed efforts in arresting the entry of smuggled used vehicles."

MVPMAP president Ferdinand Raquelsantos, in a press statement, said: "We hope that the current administration continues its drive against vehicle smuggling so that the Philippine automotive and parts-making industries may finally take off."

And what, you ask, triggered this sudden downpour of praises? Apparently, the Bureau of Customs' Run After The Smugglers (RATS) campaign has secured its first conviction when the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) nailed an auto trader who had misdeclared his vehicle shipment as "replacement truck parts."

The press statement narrates this story: "The Customs charged that in February 2008, Roell Sayson declared what allegedly was a shipment of used truck replacement parts. It was discovered to actually contain used SUVs: six units of Kia Sportage and three units of Hyundai Galloper. These are prohibited importations under Executive Order No. 156. His estimated taxes and duties due to the government amounted to P1,779,770. In its decision last December 12, the CTA ruled Sayson guilty of violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines. He was meted a penalty of not less than eight years and one day to 12 years imprisonment, and to pay a fine of P 8,000."

"That is why for years, MVPMAP has been supportive of the anti-smuggling campaign of the government as auto smuggling negatively affects the local automotive industry," Raquelsantos shared. "This persistent influx of smuggled secondhand vehicles has been pinpointed as a major cause of the underdevelopment of our local auto manufacturing. In 2011, of the new vehicles registered with the Land Transportation Office, some 57,000 units, or an astounding 26 percent, were from the so-called informal or used-car sector."

The effect? Raquelsantos pointed out that auto manufacturing suffers, affecting 70,000 workers: 30,000 in vehicle assembly and 40,000 in parts manufacturing.

"In terms of auto production, the Philippines assembled only about 65,000 units in 2011," the MVPMAP president said. "That paled in comparison with Thailand's 1.46 million units, Indonesia's 838,000 units, and Malaysia's 534,000 units. Even the new kid on the block, Vietnam, has outpaced us with 100,000 units. The Philippine auto industry really needs a shot in the arm. We are hoping that this renewed government initiative against auto smuggling is the shot that will help revive our ailing domestic auto and parts-making industries."

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There's reason to be very optimistic this new year, then.

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