Starting June 1, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will implement the reduced period for lodging goods declaration and new guidelines on registration of truckers, policies earlier suspended owing to stakeholders’ concerns.
In a statement, BOC said the implementation was “agreed upon by the officials of BOC and the stakeholders” following a public consultation conducted on May 16. Organizations that attended the public consultation include the Philippine Ports Authority, Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc., Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines, Port Users Confederation of the Philippines, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and Asian Terminals Inc.
Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 05-2019, signed on February 4, provides the rules and regulations on registration of truckers, pursuant to Section 1226 (Supervision and Regulation of Third Parties) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
CMO 18-2019, dated April 26 and signed on April 29, shortens the period for lodging the goods declaration to seven days from the date of discharge of the last package from the vessel of aircraft, from the previous 15 days.
Implementing CMO 05-2019 was put on hold when stakeholders raised concerns, particularly over the lack of public consultation before the new order was to be issued, while CMO 18-2019 was suspended “pending policy refinements” and updating of the bureau’s electronic-to-mobile system.
During the public consultation, BOC said Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero convened the heads and representatives of various stakeholders’ associations, as well as officials of BOC, to explain that the purpose of the CMOs is to facilitate trade and enhance revenue generation.
The customs bureau said stakeholders were given an opportunity to present their inputs on the guidelines for consideration by BOC.
“BOC will make the necessary remedies to the orders that are more advantageous to both the government and the stakeholders,” Guerrero was quoted as saying.
Asked if BOC will issue amendments to the two orders, Guerrero told PortCalls in a text message: “as needed.”
CMO 05-2019 covers all truckers dealing directly with BOC on the transportation of goods on behalf of the importer or exporter. The term “truckers,” the order notes, shall refer to operators of land carriers that transport imported goods from the port of entry to another port of entry as exit point, to customs facilities and warehouses, to customs bonded warehouses, to Freeport zones, and to the consignee’s premises.
The new order is meant to identify and recognize truckers that may be authorized to transact with BOC in relation to the transport of imported goods. It is also meant to gather information on truckers in order to establish a database for risk management and enforcement, and improve compliance level for trade facilitation.
Stakeholders, however, have earlier voiced issues regarding the new policy, which requires truckers to register first with BOC’s Account Management Office (AMO) before handling import and export shipments.
The Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations and CTAP had both earlier said truckers are already heavily regulated by numerous agencies, and that requirements under CMO 05-2019 are redundant.
CMO 18-2019, meanwhile, keeps to the customs bureau’s mandate to facilitate trade, optimize revenue generation, further ease port congestion, and streamline processes. It is also BOC’s response to claims from importers and exporters that delays in the discharge and delivery of their shipments were the effects of port congestion “in the various ports resulting to lost revenue and foregone opportunities.”
Under the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and prior to the CMTA, the period for lodging a declaration was 30 days.
CMO 18-2019 states that after the goods declaration is lodged, district collectors shall immediately examine the goods, when necessary, pursuant to Section 419 (Examination of goods) of the CMTA. They should then assess the goods, and stakeholders may then immediately pay the duties and taxes after receiving the assessment.
The CCBI had asked to have the order deferred the first time it was issued, saying it did not undergo public consultation prior to issuance. CCBI said certain processes take time to complete, making compliance with the shortened period for lodgment of declaration difficult.
Processing of shipments that need to secure an Authority to Release Imported Goods or ATRIG from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, for instance, takes four to seven working days.
Shipments that need to secure a tax exemption certificate under Section 800 (Conditionally Tax and/or Duty-Exempt Importation) of the CMTA from the Department of Finance; delay in shipping documents, especially those covered with letter of credit; and BOC server downtime and late response of value-added service providers are other issues customs brokers have to deal with.
CCBI president Adones Carmona, in a phone interview with PortCalls on May 29, confirmed his group’s agreement to the June 1 implementation of CMO 18-2019, but on the condition that BOC issues guidelines on availment of provisional goods declaration under Section 403 of the CMTA.
Section 403 states that: “Where the declarant does not have all the information or supporting documents required to complete the goods declaration, the lodging of a provisional goods declaration may be allowed: Provided, That it substantially contains the necessary information required by the Bureau and the declarant undertakes to complete the information or submit the supporting documents within forty-five (45) days from the filing of the provisional goods declaration, which period may be extended by the Bureau for another forty-five (45) days for valid reasons.”
He explained that is an option for customs brokers since certain processes take time to complete, making compliance with the shortened period for lodgement of declaration difficult.
Carmona said he will be following up with BOC on the provisional goods declaration guidelines before the June 1 implementation. – Roumina Pablo
Updated on May 29, 2019, 5:47pm, to include comment of CCBI president.