THE Interim Customs Accreditation Registration Unit (ICARE) of the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) is headed for abolition within the year, and its main function of accrediting importers and customs brokers transacting with the BOC likely to be taken over by an existing customs unit, according to a PortCalls source.
Since its creation on August 10, 2010 under Customs Memorandum Order No. 30-2010, ICARE has been the subject of numerous complaints for late processing of applications, a situation that supposedly has given rise to much corruption. There are reports some customs officials charge from P50,000 to P100,000 to help “facilitate” processing of accreditation.
The PortCalls source said the new rules would require one-time accreditation, as opposed to the current annual accreditation. The latter was not only costly but also meant a yearly opportunity for some customs officials to “harass” importers and brokers, added the source.
The revamp in the accreditation process is precisely designed to nip corruption in the bud, the source said.
Based on plans, the accreditation may be revoked due to illegal transactions; inactivity for six months; and violations of the Customs and Tariff Code and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) regulations, he added.
Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. (CCBI) president Ruby Riga said she is not against the abolition of ICARE, as long as its functions are retained within the BOC.
“As long as it (accreditation function) is within the bureau, we don’t have any opposition,” Riga told PortCalls, noting that brokers’ transactions are conducted within the premises of the bureau and that most customs brokers hold office near the BOC.
Riga said they would welcome prior consultation before changes are implemented.
As of press time, Riga said transactions at the BOC were “not so good” owing to backlog caused by the return to mother unit order on all customs personnel in mid-September.
The ICARE office, for one, has been vacant for almost a week.
There had been moves in the past to abolish ICARE. Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon earlier said the accreditation unit was “burdensome”, running counter to the unit’s objective of preventing the proliferation of fly-by-night importers.
In August, the Department of Finance (DOF) proposed the transfer of ICARE and the Post-Entry Audit Group to the BIR. DOF is the mother agency of BIR and BOC.
Biazon welcomed that proposal, saying the BIR had more people trained in audit and taxation and had more stringent audit procedures.––Roumina M. Pablo
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