Biazon calls for immediate passage of proposed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act

April 20, 2012 10:28 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

CEBU CITY, April 20 — Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon on Friday urged Congress for the immediate passage of the proposed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act to stop smuggling of agricultural products, particularly pork and chicken products.

Biazon, at the second day of the Pork Summit held at the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City, said the proposed measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in August 2011 and is now pending at the Senate, would reduce the incidence of smuggling.

He said there was a need to "fix" the system at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) without "loopholes" to eliminate smuggling in the country — be it outright or technical.

Biazon said the Customs modernization would make procedures comply with those under the revised Kyoto Convention and other international standards.

The measure will also set international standards in customs operations, and make import trade transactions faster, predictable, efficient and transparent, among others.

It will also promote and secure international trade, protect and enhance government revenues, prevent smuggling and other fraud against customs and modernize customs and tariff administration.

Under the proposed bill approved at the House of Representatives, the BoC may adopt non-intrusive inspection based on internationally accepted standards subject to random checking, post entry audit, and under certain conditions to be prescribed by rules and regulations.

The Commissioner may exempt from examination importations belonging to importers accredited as Authorized Economic Operators (AEO), or under any existing trade facilitation program.

The measure also provides that when there is a declaration of a state of calamity, clearance of relief consignments shall be a matter of priority and subject to a simplified customs procedure.

The BoC will promulgate rules and regulations to allow manual and electronic lodgement of export declarations and to make available and accessible all the information of general application to any interested person for legitimate use.

The bill also mandates the BoC Commissioner to submit an annual report to the President, which shall among other things contain a compilation of the quantity and value of the articles imported to the country and the corresponding custom duties, taxes and other charges assessed and collected on imported articles itemized; percentage collection of the peso value of the imports; quantity and value of conditionally-free importations; customs validation over and above letters of credit opened; value and quantity of tax-free imports; and quantity and value of articles exported from the Philippines as well as the taxes and other charges assessed and collected on them from the preceding year.

It also seeks to apply information and communications technology to enhance customs control and support a cost-effective and efficient customs operations geared towards a paperless environment using internally accepted standards.

It also proposes that sea port and airport authorities and private port operators shall provide free of charge facilities like X-ray scanners to help the BoC perform its mandate.

To stop the unabated technical smuggling of pork which translate to government losses of P3.7 billion in revenues, Biazon proposed to have a 100 percent inspection of all reefer vans declared as "offal" with only five percent in duties, instead of the usual 35 percent slapped on choice cuts of pork.

Offal refers to a butchered animal’s internal organs, entrails, skin, fats and other leftover materials.

For his part, AGAP party-list Rep. Nicanor Briones said he had filed a bill calling for an investigation on the Top 10 importers of fats, offals, skin/rind if they are paying their taxes based on the volume of their respective importation.

The top 10 importers are: Preo Foods Corp., Kitchen Solutions Corp., DPO Philippines Inc., Fairfield Import Export and Trading Inc., MTDM Trading, MPP Meat Import Corp., Batoy Trading, Sacrecoure Commercial, First Maestro Foodservice Company, and All Meat Foods International Trading.

Biazon said there's really a need to review the accreditation of these importers that would include capacity and company profile to verify the authenticity of the importer.

And, with full automation and modernization of the BoC, he said "human intervention" will be eliminated, thus stopping corruption in government and smuggling. (PNA)

RMA/LGI

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