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There is no order instructing customs appraisers to favor value in the National Value Verification System (NVVS) over the transaction value, according to an official of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

BOC assistant commissioner and spokesperson Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla, in a phone interview with PortCalls on November 18, explained that values generated in the agency’s NVVS are only for reference, and not a substitute for the transaction value.

The Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI), in a statement on November 18, said Maronilla also clarified in a meeting on November 13 that there is no instruction to appraisers to disregard the transaction value principle in favor of the NVVS value.

CCBI said that accordingly, BOC has only reminded its assessment personnel to exercise due diligence in checking import documents if the difference between the declared value and the NVVS value is substantial.

NVVS is an internal BOC system formally launched last June that customs assessment officers may access to verify whether the value declared by the importer is the price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to the Philippines. Value verification will be based on the previous importation, on similar and identical goods at the same period of importation, and on other methods of valuation available under Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

There have been complaints from stakeholders since the system’s implementation. CCBI, in a letter to Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero dated November 12, said there are instances of “non-acceptance of the proof of payment as evidence for shipments with higher NVVS compared to the declared value.”

In its November 18 statement, CCBI said that while BOC in the meeting on November 13 affirmed that NVVS values are only for reference, “that it is not the case in actual practice.”

It claimed: “There are many instances wherein shipments have been upgraded to match the NVVS value despite the submission of complete documents with proof of payments.”

In such a case, CCBI said Maronilla suggested that customs brokers through CCBI forward their documents to his office for assistance. Maronilla also told PortCalls his office and the Import Assessment Service (IAS) office are open to conduct an executive session with customs brokers and importers having issues with customs appraisers and NVVS if they are afraid to formally file a complaint for fear of backlash from appraisers.

CCBI also reported that some examiners are “unilaterally upgrading” the value and subsequently the duties and taxes without consent of the customs broker or the importer; Maronilla committed to cascading the issue to IAS.

CCBI also requested BOC to disclose its basis for arriving at NVVS values “in the spirit of transparency” and to issue dispute resolution guidelines “wherein the stakeholders may question the application of NVVS, on whether or not it is based on objective and quantifiable data as required by the WTO [World Trade Organization].”

Maronilla said BOC is fast-tracking its new order on dispute settlement but that the CMTA still requires a bond for such procedure. Maronilla said the order should hopefully be signed within the year or early next year.

CCBI, meanwhile, said it will continue to be vigilant on “abuses on the use of NVVS,”  adding that if it still receives “complaints regarding the illegal use of NVVS and refusal of the assessment section to honor transaction value and the corresponding proof of payment, we have no other recourse but take drastic action against the NVVS.” No details were given on the action CCBI may take in such a case.

In a memorandum to concerned customs officials and employees dated July 8, Guerrero said that in case the declared value is below the NVVS value, “you should require the importer to provide further explanation, including submission of additional documents or other evidence to prove that the declared value represents the price actually paid or payable.”

He added: “In case the importer cannot present documents to support the declared value, the NVVS value shall be adopted.”

In a memorandum implementing the NVVS dated May 24, the adoption of the NVVS value in case the importer cannot present documents supporting the declared value should be “without prejudice to the importer’s remedies” under the CMTA. –  Roumina Pablo

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