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Home3PL/4PLARTA probes LGUs for violation of ban on cargo pass-through fees

ARTA probes LGUs for violation of ban on cargo pass-through fees

  • The Anti-Red Tape Authority is looking into allegations of LGUs still collecting unauthorized pass-through fees and taxes from vehicles transporting goods
  • A directive from the national government banned such fees
  • ARTA and other agencies will meet with different LGUs to exact cooperation from LGUs on implementation of JMC 2021-01

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is looking into allegations there are local government units (LGU) still collecting unauthorized pass-through fees and taxes from vehicles transporting goods despite a national government directive to cease such acts.

ARTA director general Jeremiah Belgica in a statement said they launched inspections right after Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2021-01 was issued last April 28.

READ: LGU pass-through fees on cargo vehicles illegal, joint memo stresses

Sa pag-iikot po ng aming (During inspection by our) investigation team, nakita po na may mga sumusuway pa rin sa (we saw violations of) JMC,” Belgica said in a virtual dialogue with members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry on May 17.

ARTA said its members continue to make the rounds of LGUs to conduct investigations. After the rounds, ARTA, together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Finance’s (DOF) Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), will meet with the different LGUs to explain and exact cooperation from them on the implementation of JMC 2021-01.

JMC 2021-01, signed by ARTA, DILG, and DOF, provides omnibus guidelines on the suspension of LGUs’ imposition and collection of illegal fees and taxes relative to the transport of goods and products.

JMC reiterates DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2018-033, which was issued in 2018 and directs LGUs to “refrain from enforcing any existing ordinance authorizing the levy of fees and taxes on their inter-province transport of goods and merchandise, regulatory fees in local ports, and other additional taxes, fees or charges in any form upon the transport of goods and merchandise.”

The JMC is aimed at improving the country’s logistics sector, which is one of the five priority areas of ARTA’s National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies program.

JMC 2021-01 emphasizes that the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 puts limits on the taxing powers of LGUs, particularly their power to impose “various fees, taxes and other charges on goods carried into or out, or passing through, their respective territorial jurisdictions.”

It also provides additional directives for regulation by ARTA, and provision of technical assistance to LGUs by the DOF-BLGF.

Pursuant to the LGC, JMC 2021-01 enjoins all local chief executives to refrain from enforcing “any existing ordinance authorizing the levy of fees and taxes on inter-province transport of goods or merchandise, regulatory fees in local ports, and other additional taxes, fees or charges in any form upon the transport of goods or merchandise.”

These include taxes, fees, and charges and other impositions upon goods carried into or out of, or passing through, the territorial jurisdictions of LGUs in the guise of charges for wharfage, tolls for bridges or otherwise, sticker fee, discharging fee, delivery fee, market fee, toll fee, entry fee, and/or mayor’s permit fee, or other taxes, fees, or charges in any form whatsoever upon such goods or merchandise.

All policies, issuances, ordinance or resolutions inconsistent with JMC 20210-01 will be repealed or amended consistent with DILG-ARTA JMC 2019-01, or the guidelines on the regulatory reform for LGUs pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

Existing local ordinances on pass-through fees and taxes for any form of transported goods and products will go through a regulatory impact assessment pursuant also to RA 11032.

LGUs are also directed to strictly observe DILG MC No. 2008-112 (implementation of uniform truck ban hours), particularly on the exemptions from truck ban of trucks and vans carrying perishable goods.

DILG-Local and Legislative Liaison Service (LLLS) will check all existing local ordinances for violations of JMC 2021-01. ARTA will also conduct its own regulatory review of ordinances by LGUs that received a show-cause order from the LLLS.

ARTA will also investigate and file appropriate charges with recommendation for preventive suspension of erring government officials.

DOF-BLGF, for its part, will monitor the compliance of local treasurers during the conduct of treasury evaluation and provide technical assistance to LGUs in updating or amending their local revenue code.

ARTA said a Joint Oversight Committee, composed of DILG-Bureau of Local Government Development, DOF-BLGF, ARTA, and public and private stakeholders, was created and tasked to monitor the implementation of the JMC.

LGUs that fail to comply with JMC 2021-01 will be dealt with under pertinent laws, rules, and regulations. They may also face a fact-finding investigation with the results forwarded to the appropriate judicial body for action.

Stakeholders, especially truckers, have been complaining about the collection of pass-through fees by every LGU, especially in Metro Manila, that they pass through on the way to their delivery destination. – Roumina Pablo

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