Kim poised to order CCTV monitoring of Philip Morris

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said yesterday she will order Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC), which controls more than 90 percent of the local cigarette market, to install closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) in its production lines and warehouses so the government can monitor its volume of production and ensure that the right taxes due from the giant firm are remitted to the national coffers.

The revenue chief said the move is an offshoot of the recent seizure of large cache of untaxed cigarettes or those without the required strip tax stamps during raids of various distribution and retail outlets in Batangas City and Talavera, Nueva Ecija by anti-tax fraud agents a few weeks ago.

Most of items seized in the raids were Marlboro cigarettes which the PMFTC manufactures.

Ms. Henares, however, could not say if the seized goods came from PMFTC, or somewhere else.

She instructed the BIR’s large taxpayers service and tax fraud division to investigate and establish the sources of the contraband and if they were produced locally or smuggled from abroad.

Henares said the rule requiring PMFTC and other tobacco firms to install CCTVs at their plants will be provided in revenue regulation she will sign and issue soon.

The BIR had earlier installed at its own expense CCTVs at the factory of Mighty Corporation (MC) in Bulacan, the main business rival of PMFTC.

Ms. Henares said the electronic gadgets are very expensive and cigarette companies should buy them at their own expense.

Intelligence reports revealed that untaxed Marlboro cigarettes were smuggled into the country from a nearby country and sold at a bargain price of P20 per pack of 20 sticks, distributed mostly in the provinces, as against the prevailing regular retail price of P60 per pack.

Ms. Henares, however, expressed doubts if smugglers would still generate profits by selling the untaxed goods at low prices.