QUEZON CITY, (PIA) –- President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. sees the positive effects of the recommendation of the Société Générale de Surveillance SA (SGS) to conduct pre-shipping inspections in a move to stop the smuggling of agricultural goods and ensure its safety for public consumption.
“Ibig sabihin, bago pa isakay ‘yung produkto sa barko doon sa pinanggagalingan, inspeksyunin na nila para sasabihin nila, ‘totoo ito, tama ang timbang, tama ang quality, tama ang nasa record na pinanggalingan’ — all of these items. Para hindi na natin kailangan gawin dito sa Pilipinas,” Marcos explained after meeting SGS Vice President George Bottomley and Managing Director Cresenciano Maramot in Malacañang.
According to the UN Commodity Trade data for the Philippines, a 20.48 percent discrepancy in the reported values of agricultural imports from 2010 to 2021 was found, resulting in revenue losses for the government. For edible vegetables, roots, and tubers, the discrepancy was 34.74 percent while for swine meat (fresh, chilled, or frozen), the discrepancy was 1.89 percent.
Hence, conducting pre-shipment inspection (PSI) and conformity assessment procedures would ensure that the quantity and other specifications of the goods conform with sanitary and phytosanitary import permits and test the presence of diseases, among others.
SGS claims it would address smuggling and contain the spread of diseases such as African Swine Fever and Avian Flu, clarifying also that inspection and testing fees would be paid for by the exporter.
Under the arrangement, SGS will create a digital invoice in a standardized format prescribed by the authorities on an online government platform for registered or authenticated agricultural exporters/seller/suppliers.
The invoices would be available in real-time to the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Bureau of Customs (BOC), which, according to SGS, would deter importers from manipulating or falsifying invoices and, instead, increase tax compliance, and enable cross-agency trade data reconciliation.
The system will likewise ensure that all agricultural importations are recorded and accounted for to prevent hoarding and price manipulation.
The costs of registration/authentication and operating the platform would also be paid for by the exporter.
The President has directed the Department of Finance (DOF) and the DA to study the proposal and come out with a mechanism to implement it.
Prior to the discussion of the recommendation of SGS, the Marcos administration early this year sought the private sector’s assistance in fighting against rampant smuggling. The President is also looking for seeking “drastic” reforms in the bureaucracy to address the issue.
Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil quoted President Marcos last January,
"The smuggling here in this country is absolutely rampant. So, it does not matter to me how many systems we have in place, they do not work.”
Marcos added that concerned government agencies must step up and be “more innovative” to address rampant smuggling.
The Philippines contracted the SGS from 1986 to 2000 for the verification of the quality, quantity, and price of imported goods prior to shipment to the Philippines. It is currently working with the DOF on the fuel marking program.
SGS is a testing, inspection, and certification company established in 1878 with the aim of ensuring the quality and safety of products based on health, safety, and regulatory standards.
The Swiss company has 2,650 offices and laboratories and employs 97,000 personnel in 140 countries. (MVMV, PIA-CPSD)