The implementation of the lodgement fee program has been moved by the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) to October 1 to allow for a longer period in conducting an information drive among its members.
CCBI national president Atty. Ferdinand Nague told PortCalls in a text message that implementation has been moved from July to October “so we will have enough time campaigning for support” and “informing our members.”
Furthermore, the three value-added service providers (VASPs) that will provide the mechanism for collecting the lodgement fees are currently busy with the activation of the switch-on mode for the electronic air manifest submission at the Philippine Bureau of Customs.
CCBI on July 10 signed a memorandum of agreement with the three VASPs on implementing the lodgement fee program. Nague said they are hoping to release the implementing guidelines next week.
Under the program, CCBI members are required to pay P10 per formal entry lodgement. Approved by members a decade ago, the program was stalled by a lack of mechanism for collecting the fees.
Purpose of the fee
Formerly called the amelioration fund, the lodgement fund is initially pegged at P50 and is meant to support CCBI operations. The fee will cover for now three types of formal entry lodgement—consumption, transit, and warehousing—and not yet exports. The fund will be collected from lodgements made at all 17 customs districts.
CCBI vice president for professional development Atty. Norberto Castillo, in a presentation during the program’s relaunch on June 14, said the lodgement fee and other membership dues will be spent on general office management, members’ subsidy for professional development seminars and conventions, expanded members’ benefits such as medical and group insurance, and free legal assistance.
Castillo said CCBI needs to generate additional funds as the annual fee of P500 and the monthly dues of P100 are not enough to finance association projects and programs. He noted that CCBI generates only P15,000 per month, with the collection increasing only during the organization’s elections.
The pooled lodgement fee will also be used in a campaign calling to amend Section 106 (d), or the declarant provision, of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). Under the provision, engaging the services of customs brokers becomes optional two years after the law’s passage.
CCBI’s Cebu and Davao chapters have actually been collecting amelioration fees for years now. Cebu customs brokers pay P10 and their Davao counterparts, P50.
The P10 lodgement fee to be imposed by the CCBI national chapter is on top of the amelioration fee being collected in Cebu and Davao. Nague said that the lodgement fee has been discussed with both chapters, and that it will be up to them to reduce the fee if they so wish.
To pay the lodgement fee, customs brokers will have to deposit it to a special CCBI account at a bank used by the three VASPs. Nague said that since customs brokers already maintain prepaid accounts at VASP-nominated banks, it will not be too troublesome to deposit to a separate account in the same bank.
Customs brokers then need to email a copy of the deposit slip to CCBI, to an email address created solely for lodgement fees. A dedicated computer in the CCBI office will also be used for the program.
CCBI will then inform the VASPs of the number of entries a customs broker may make based on the deposit. A customs broker with zero balance will not be able to make a lodgement.
To monitor the balance, VASPs will provide ledgers to customs brokers.
CCBI is projecting additional funds of P1 million a month from collecting the lodgement fee, based on the estimated figure of 100,000 lodgements a month provided by VASPs.
Nague said the program will be audited, and a fund manager and an external auditor hired to manage the fund. Members will also be given updates on the fund during meetings and seminars.
The separate bank accounts for the lodgement fee will assure easier auditing, he added. Castillo, meanwhile, said they plan to include the lodgement fee in the organization’s internal rules to secure it from future abuse.
Nague clarified that the lodgement fee is a personal fee levied on customs brokers and should not be a pass-on fee charged to clients. – Roumina Pablo
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