The Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) have released a draft order creating a one-stop shop (OSS) that will process relief goods donated by the international community for calamity victims during times of disaster.
The draft joint department order (JDO) is set to implement certain provisions of Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). It covers importations of relief goods donated or leased to government institutions and accredited private entities for free distribution to affected people during a national state of calamity.
Under the CMTA, donations to calamity victims, which were previously tax free but not value added tax-free, are duty- and tax-free.
The JDO is for signing by the secretaries of DOF, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the agencies on the frontline of processing and distributing these relief goods.
Under the proposed JDO, an OSS will be set up at BOC, to be headed by DOF and composed of representatives from government agencies concerned with the issuance of permits and licenses, and documentation and processing of relief consignments. These agencies include BOC, DSWD, Department of Health, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Agriculture, and Department of National Defense.
The main OSS facility will be located at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Collection District, its operations activated whenever a national state of calamity is declared. Satellite facilities may also be established at the port nearest the area affected by the crisis.
The customs commissioner will direct the district collector of NAIA Collection District to determine the specific area for OSS operations. BOC will then coordinate with other government agencies to process and document the donated relief consignments so these can be immediately released from customs’ custody.
BOC should also “ensure that simplified clearance procedure shall be adopted by the OSS,” the draft order states.
The full complement of the OSS will be working 24/7 for up to three months, unless the declaration of state of calamity is lifted earlier or extended by the President.
In 2013, the DOF, BOC, DSWD, NDRRMC, and other regulatory agencies created an OSS for round-the-clock processing of relief goods and other aid-related equipment donated by the international community to help victims of super typhoon Yolanda.
In 2015, BOC issued revised guidelines on the processing of international donations after the temporary cancellation of the OSS by NDRRMC.
Stakeholders can submit their position papers on the draft JDO until February 16, the same day a public hearing on the draft will be held. – Roumina Pablo
Image courtesy of yodiyim at FreeDigitalPhotos.net