Home » Breaking News, Customs & Trade, Exclusives » BOC denies arbitrary adoption of rules on clerical errors

Screengrab of BOC’s online live update on July 22 with Import Assessment Service director Atty. Yasser Ismail Abbas

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) rejected claims it was “arbitrarily” penalizing stakeholders, particularly customs brokers, when it came to imposition of fines on clerical errors.

Wala ho kaming intensiyon i-punish o kaya parusahan ng arbitrarily yung ating mga kaibigan na customs brokers. Kami ho ay katuwang niyo sa pagpapabilis ng proseso dito at pagsasaayos ng assessment process namin (We have no intention of arbitrarily punishing customs brokers. We are working with brokers to ensure faster processes and putting order in the assessment process),” Customs assistant commissioner and spokesperson Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla said in a live online update on July 22.

The statement came after Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) and Aduana Business Club, Inc. (ABCI) raised issues with imposition of the P5,000 penalty for clerical errors under Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 01-2020 in relation to Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 49-2019.

READ: Groups seek suspension of ‘arbitrary’ BOC fine on clerical errors

In a joint letter to Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, CCBI and ABCI urged BOC to temporarily suspend imposition of the fine, saying its imposition on every perceived violation and even on goods not covered by CMO 49-2019 “amounts to an arbitrary, capricious and whimsical application of CMO 49-2019 and CAO 1-2020…upon hapless stakeholders.”

CAO 01-2020, issued last March, provides BOC’s new fines and surcharges for clerical errors, misdeclaration, misclassification, and undervaluation, while CMO 49-2019 issued last year orders the mandatory filling in of Box No. 41 (Supplemental Units) in the lodgment of goods declaration in BOC’s Electronic-to-Mobile (e2m) system.

According to CCBI and ABCI, numerous importers and customs brokers are being penalized with the P5,000 fine “on every perceived violation in alleged failure or incorrect filling up of Box 41 of the IEIRD [Import Entry and Internal Revenue Declaration].”

The groups said they have also received and are still receiving countless complaints from importers and customs brokers that they are being slapped with the fine “even if goods covered by their import entries do not bear the tariff headings listed in Annex A of CMO 49-2019.”

CCBI and ABCI pointed out that it is “very clear” under CMO 49-2019 that the requirement for filling out Box 41 in the import entry only applies to goods with tariff headings specified in Annex A of the said order. CMO 49-2019 covers all lodgment of goods declaration under the consumption entry (formal and informal) for HS codes (Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System) listed in Annex A of the order.

They added that under the CMO, in case of discrepancy/discrepancies in the number of packages or units declared in Box 41 vis-a-vis that stated in the bill of lading (B/L) or packing list, the concerned customs examiner should update the goods declaration accordingly to reflect the number of units stated in the B/L or packing list.

“Interestingly, CMO 49-2019 did not provide for penalties in case of discrepancy in the number of units declared in Box 41,” the groups said.

Maronilla said BOC has reminded district collectors and assessment personnel not to immediately impose penalties on errors that are typographical in nature or filled in mandatory fields that are “susceptible to errors”, but instead help customs brokers correct errors considering there are still no implementing rules for CAO 01-2020.

But he noted that clerical errors related to the implementation of CMO 49-2019 will be imposed penalties as BOC is strictly implementing the order to help correct the assessment process.

He added that BOC has been reminding stakeholders about their obligation to fill out Box 41 for goods that fall under Annex A of CMO 49-2019 but is still seeing non-compliance among some stakeholders.

Import Assessment Service (IAS) director Yasser Ismail Abbas, during the same online update, explained that the implementation of CMO 49-2019 is meant to help improve the customs bureau’s valuation system and increase revenue collections, especially now that the government needs funds for its fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He noted that CMO 49-2019 has corrected the basis for valuation for commodities under certain HS codes so they will no longer be by kilogram (kg) but per units.

Along with the implementation of CMO 49-2019 last year, BOC updated its e2m system to finally include other units of measurement besides kg in establishing the volume of different types of commodities and shipments. Prior to this, different types of commodities were measured in kg, even those that should have been measured by pieces or units.

Abbas earlier said that for tariff headings under Annex A of CMO 49-2019, the e2m “will automatically reflect the unit of measurement as pieces…” Under CMO 49-2019, pieces, as well as units, refer to a unit of measurement for number equivalent to an individual object or item regarded as a unit of a kind or class.

The new policy is designed to enhance BOC’s capability and effectiveness in monitoring importations, and to “properly assess and collect duties and taxes on imported articles.” – Roumina Pablo

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