The CNMI Division of Customs is ramping up its campaign against the entry of illegal and undervalued goods to make sure all import duty and other taxes are properly collected for revenue of the local government.
Customs director Jose Mafnas said that they recently intercepted an undeclared 300 cases of liquor from a 40-foot container that they inspected. The CNMI could have lost an estimated $14,000 in revenues if it entered the local marker.
“This is a good interception for us since we [CNMI government] did not lose $14,000 in tax revenues,” said Mafnas, who chose not to divulge the identity of the consignee who was named the recipient of the goods.
He added that Customs officers had also intercepted the entry of counterfeit shirts. “And we’re still finding a lot of under evaluation of goods, these are products that are coming in the CNMI that are undervalued. These are some of the stuff that are coming in, but we’re catching it before it entered the CNMI.”
Mafnas said the amount could have cost thousands of dollars in revenues for the CNMI if it were undetected. “Especially in counterfeit goods, we don’t want the CNMI’s reputation to suffer for our tourism industry. [For tourists] to buy and have that product at the genuine price only to find out that it was counterfeit. That’s the very reason why we’re vigilant in making sure those products don’t end up out there.”
“Under evaluation of goods, [like a] two-door stainless fridge with ice-making capabilities valued at less than $200, that’s insulting. Businesses out there that are compliant are another reason why we’re vigilant in intercepting these undervalued and undeclared goods. It is unfair for those who are compliant.”
He added that he is confident on the work done by his officers and staff. “We’re always on our toes and we’re working 24/7. Customs is a 24-hour job. I rarely get sleepless nights because I put my confidence in my staff. If anything happens, I would receive a call and information on what had transpired.”
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres lauded the efforts of Mafnas and his officers in making sure all taxed on goods entering the CNMI are collected. “Even for this 40-foot container with 300 cases of liquor, that’s $14,000. That’s just $14,000 but the message we are giving out there is that you should not be doing this kind of activities. I understand it’s a mistake if one case or two, but 300 is different. So, I hope there were penalties involved or citation for not putting in the proper documentation.”
“Thank you to your staff director. You are the ones who are behind the scenes at the frontline before the items come in. You just busted meth [ice], other drugs or goods entering. The people usually don’t know that you guys are the ones who intercepts and checks items that are coming in.”