Clark Customs chief suspects Koreans smuggling golf sets

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    CLARK FREEPORT — Are Koreans arriving here by the hundreds daily virtually smuggling golf sets into the country?

    Marites Martin, chief of the Bureau of Customs at the Port of Clark here, said she is poised to ask Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena to grant her office the authority to investigate the proliferation of golf sets in various stores in the neighboring cities of Angeles and Mabalacat.

    She noted that since Clark hosted the ASEAN meeting last year, the BoC suspended taxes on golf sets being flown into the country via the Clark International Airport here.

    Since then, the BoC has not lifted the suspension of such taxes as a means to boost “golf tourism” in this Freeport.

    In a press forum here over the weekend, Martin said the suspension of such tax was in response to a request from the South Korean embassy. Martin noted that some 700 South Koreans arrive at the Clark airport daily, with most of them having plans to play at several golf courses here.

    “What I have noticed is that some of them carry from three to four golf sets each.” She noted that before the suspension of taxes on golf sets, the BoC would charge at one percent rate of duty or about P16,000 per golf set.

    As incentive to golfers, this was reduced to only P2,000 per set as “re-export bond” which could be refunded upon departure from Clark. “But even this was scrapped to encourage foreign golfers to play golf at Clark,” she noted.

    The proliferation of golf sets being sold in neighboring cities, however, has led Martin to suspect that the tax-free privilege on golf sets might have given way to virtual smuggling, she said.

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