House approves Customs reform act on 3rd reading

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The bill seeks full automation of BOC transactions and an increase in the minimum cost of taxable imported goods from P10 to P5,000

ASEAN INTEGRATION. Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina hopes to have the CMTA enacted by yearend in time for the ASEAN economic integration.

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) may face reforms by next year as the House of Representatives approved on third reading the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) of 2015.

“The new CMTA will promote informed compliance by streamlining and clarifying the procedures and requirements for all transactions at the BOC,” AAMBIS-Owa Party-list Representative Sharon Garin said.

Employing full automation, “CMTA offers ease of doing business through faster release of goods and efficient inspection and collection,” Garin also noted.

Garin headed the Technical Working Group that took charge of merging all the proposed bills pertaining to BOC modernization.

Among the primary reforms the measure wishes to implement is increasing the minimum cost of taxable imported goods from P10 to P5,000. 

The “absurdly low amount” has been the de minimis amount since the enactment of the Tariff and Customs Laws of the Philippines (Republic Act 1937) in 1957. 

The Philippines has the lowest threshold value among the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries. Other nations have an average de minimis value of $200. 

“The passage of the bill at the soonest is a welcome development especially as the holiday season is now upon us. The volume of goods entering and exiting the country is great because of Christmas and New Year,” Garin said. (READ: ‘Institutionalize economic reforms before Aquino steps down’)

President’s Christmas gift

Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina welcomes the act’s approval and hopes the President enacts it as a Christmas gift. 

“I think it might be the President’s Christmas gift to us,” Lina said. 

“We really need that…We have already committed so it’s a matter of complying.”

Lina, who was recently appointed April this year, also hopes for a “smooth sailing” enactment of the measure, which is now “drawing closer” to the Senate.

“I hope it can be finished, undergo (bicameral conference), then be signed into law,” he said.

Prepping for ASEAN integration

Signing CMTA into law before the end of 2015 would mean BOC can apply it in time for ASEAN integration.

By the end of the year, the Philippines and the ASEAN community will start the free flow of goods and services.

The integration will require member-nations to eliminate impediments – tariffs included – that will delay entry of imported items. (READ: A united region: The ASEAN Community 2015) –

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