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Screenshot of Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc portal, www.ccbi.com.ph

The Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) is automating its services and conducting more seminars and forums to better serve its member-customs brokers.

CCBI recently launched its online portal—www.ccbi.com.ph—that will function as a database for members as well as a gateway to CCBI services and offerings, CCBI president Adones Carmona told PortCalls in an interview.

The portal—a plan initially conceived during the term of previous president Atty. Ferdinand Nague—includes advertisements of CCBI projects and offerings such as seminars for continuing professional development (CPD) units, and online application for the Certificate of Good Standing (CGS).

The portal is also being proposed as a repository for seminars with CPD units attended by members along with the units they earned for easy tracking of CPD units required for renewal of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) license.

Carmona said the portal will be able to issue a single certificate indicating all seminars attended and units earned by customs brokers so they need only submit one certificate, instead of several, to PRC. CCBI is still discussing this matter with the PRC but if the plan pushes through, CCBI will be the first accredited professional organization or APO in the country to do this, Carmona noted.

With the portal, members outside Metro Manila will no longer need to go to the CCBI Manila office to apply for the CGS or request for CCBI services. They can just apply online.

The portal went live just as CCBI prepares for the recently issued Customs Administrative Order No. 05-2019 (Registration of Customs Brokers and Their Representatives), which requires customs brokers to submit a CGS signed by the president of the APO (CCBI).

Users of the portal will pay a one-time fee of P500 to register. Usage is not mandatory, but Carmona noted portal use eliminates the need for customs brokers to travel back and forth to CCBI’s office to apply for and process certificates and requirements.

The chamber has tapped IT solutions service provider E-Konek Pilipinas, Inc. to create the portal.

Lodgement fee collection
Also in the pipeline is a project to enhance the collection process for the P10 lodgement fee. Carmona said CCBI is already talking to value-added service providers about making payment hassle-free to encourage compliance among customs brokers. He noted that collecting the lodgement fee is important as it supports CCBI’s various projects and services. It even allowed the chamber to finally get its own office.

Under the program, CCBI members are required to pay P10 per formal entry lodgement. Approved by members a decade ago, the program was initially stalled by a lack of mechanism for fee collection but was finally reintroduced in 2017.

Aside from automation, Carmona said members should expect the holding of more frequent and affordable seminars, including in the regions, designed to help members complete their CPD unit requirements.
The regional seminars are also useful to find out about concerns of members in those areas.

The first regional summit was held recently in Cagayan de Oro.

No to declarant provision
Meanwhile, Carmona vows the declarant provision under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) will not be implemented during his term.

Section 106 of the CMTA has been largely interpreted to mean that after two years of the implementation of the law, any third party designated by the importer, such as an attorney-in-fact, may sign the declaration and consequently process the goods declaration.

Carmona explained that the attorney-in-fact should not replace customs brokers, but instead sign on behalf of the importer or exporter.

He noted that the last paragraph of Section 107 of the CMTA states: “The declarant shall sign the goods declaration, even when assisted by a licensed customs broker, who shall likewise sign the goods declaration.” He said this means the customs broker will still sign the declaration, along with the declarant, which could be the importer, exporter, or attorney-in-fact.

Carmona, who was elected president of CCBI for the term 2019-2021, said what he is aiming for in his two-year stint is “an honest-to-goodness leadership that is transparent with the members, especially with the financial side because we now have money.” – Roumina Pablo

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