The Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) have issued the draft customs administrative order (CAO) that revises the policy on the accreditation of value-added service providers (VASPs).
The proposed CAO will establish the administrative and operational structures that will activate, operate, supervise, and control VASPs regarding BOC’s electronic-to-mobile (e2m) system, which facilitates the agency’s import and export documentation through VASPs.
Currently, there are only three BOC-accredited VASPs that handle all import lodgements that need to be submitted to the BOC’s e2m system. They are e-Konek, Cargo Data Exchange Centre, and InterCommerce Network Services.
The proposal is pursuant to Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Position papers on the draft CAO will be accepted until February 2, when a public consultation will also be held.
Covered under the proposed CAO are all types of transactions on imports and exports to be provided by the VASPs. These include registering BOC clients, and lodging import declarations (consumption, warehousing, transshipment, and informal entry) and export declarations.
It also encompasses transmitting raw materials liquidation information, surety bonds information, payment information, online release information; and the manifest.
Under the draft CAO, the VASP Accreditation Committee will set the criteria for selecting and accrediting qualified information communication technology companies to become VASPs, and will provide the guidelines for accrediting, establishing, and operating VASPs.
An accredited VASP will undergo a six-month probationary period for technical evaluation, after which BOC will decide on whether or not to grant it full accreditation.
Selected VASPs will be accredited for three years, inclusive of the probationary period. After this, their accreditation can be renewed yearly based on an evaluation of their performance in terms of service level undertaking (SLU) and compliance with eligibility requirements.
BOC may also prematurely end the agreement if the VASP violates the provisions of the CAO and related rules and regulations, including SLU and non-disclosure undertaking. The agreement may also be pre-terminated if the VASP violates provisions in the CMTA, the e-Commerce Act, and other related laws, or if it undertakes actions that threaten the security and integrity of e2m operations.
“BOC reserves the right to change any of the accreditation criteria as may be deemed necessary by the Commissioner,” the draft CAO noted.
VASPs shall determine their respective fee structures based on several factors such as market conditions and systems sustainability requirements. BOC will not collect these fees for the VASPs and any changes in fees must have BOC’s approval after public consultation, according to the draft.
The accredited VASPs must also develop the VASP front-end ICT system and establish the infrastructure and telecommunications facilities needed to allow electronic transactions.
The BOC-VASP Gateway, operated by BOC, will be the sole connectivity for VASPs to the e2m system. BOC clients are to be connected to the BOC-VASP Gateway via their chosen accredited VASP, which has the facility to process import and export entries.
The VASP facility is to be made available to duly registered importers, exporters, and their brokers.
The customs commissioner may issue additional or amendatory guidelines in order to ensure that all initiatives to establish and operate the VASPs are effectively implemented. – Roumina Pablo
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