BROKERS, importers and other stakeholders dealing with the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) should be prepared for changes in the agency.
In his recent presentation at the Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. 23rd Annual General Assembly held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero, BOC deputy commissioner for Assessment Operations and Coordinating Group, briefed brokers on reforms that will take place in the bureau in the coming months.
The reforms, Uvero said, have to do with “a lot of trade facilitation efforts.”
For one, the bureau is looking at eliminating redundancies. “At NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) we see the VCRC (Valuation and Classification Review Committee) doing assessment,” Uvero said, which should not be the case.
“We’re also looking at doing what is already being done in other ports like Cebu and NAIA,” he said. Specifically, he is eyeing sections within the Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port with staff that would handle specific product lines or commodities to ensure filing is based on the correct commodity and tariff classification.
Uvero also noted the planned one-time accreditation for both importers and licensed customs brokers, as opposed to annual registration, which could be a source of corruption. Under the plan, accreditation will be suspended or revoked when there are violations of customs and revenue laws.
The re-strengthening of the valuation database to promote the use of specific descriptions will likewise be pushed, Uvero said.
“If your goods are declared generally, we might issue alert orders on those shipments. And we might require 100% examination,” he said, adding that shipments generally declared can automatically be seized. “We might not be very strict yet, but going forward, be aware.”
At the same assembly, Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said the BOC is working towards a full digital environment at the bureau.
The bureau’s Management Information System and Technology Group is “in the thick of developing systems on how to (improve) workflows, provide single entity views, and manage queries,” Biazon said.
Passage of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act would also provide the framework for the paradigm shift in the global supply chain arena and boost reforms, the commissioner said.
On Nov. 7, the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives held the first hearing of House Bills 5 and 10 that seek to modernize the bureau.
Biazon, in an interview on the sidelines of the hearing, told PortCalls that all inputs from stakeholders were accepted in the hearing.
“Generally, you can say that stakeholders are in support (of the bill),” he noted.
However, he said there were some provisions that had raised brokers’ concern because they would allow importers to engage directly with the bureau without needing the help of brokers. –– Roumina M. Pablo