The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has deferred for a month the implementation of an order that requires all importers to submit a copy of their list of importable items approved by the Account Management Office (AMO), the BOC unit that handles the accreditation of importers and customs brokers.
In a memorandum dated April 13 and signed on April 16, Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña said that his memorandum, dated March 12 and signed March 27 which requires the submission and counter-checking of the list of importables, is deferred “for a month effective yesterday (April 15).”
Lapeña said his office deemed it prudent to defer the implementation” of the March 12 order “due to the sheer volume of importers requesting for relevant documents and complying with the directives of the said order.”
The one-month suspension came after Lapeña told PortCalls in an interview on April 5 that he has suspended the implementation of the March 12 order, after stakeholders raised concerns about the new policy.
Meantime, Lapeña said remedial measures shall be undertaken forthwith to speed up processes necessary in implementing the subject order.r
The March 12 order required district and sub-port collectors, deputy collectors for assessment, chiefs of the Formal Entry Division (FED), FED personnel, importers/consignees, brokers and all other concerned to countercheck the approved list before processing an import entry “to ensure that only commodities or items in the approved list is imported by consignee.”
Additional items on the list of importables required approval from AMO prior to importation.
The Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) had earlier asked Lapeña to defer or reconsider the memorandum as several issues need to be clarified.
In a letter to the Customs chief dated April 3 and received on April 4, CCBI noted that they laud the intention to get rid of consignees for hire. However, the group said that under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, all goods are freely importable, except those that are regulated, restricted, or prohibited goods.
CCBI also noted that the previous policy only requires a list of importables from importers located in special economic zones or Philippine Economic Zone Authority-registered companies, and importers under the customs bonded manufacturing warehouses that require future Customs liquidation.
The group also pointed out that the list of importables submitted by importers to AMO during application “merely indicates the projected importables of the company and should not be a bar for their progressive or future importations.”
CCBI said the new procedure “will impact negatively on trade facilitation,” as checking and counterchecking the details of importation on the list creates another layer of unnecessary red tape. “In turn, this can be exploited by corrupt Customs officers and employees,” CCBI stated.
It is also not clear how the new order will impact legitimate and regular importers and those under the Super Green Lane (SGL), CCBI added. It said that it would be “quite unfair [to] these legitimate and SGL importers [to] be subjected to this new regulation after having proven themselves to the Bureau of Customs.” – Roumina Pablo
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