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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Post-Clearance Audit Group (PCAG) is looking at publishing a guide on the new post-clearance audit process as it aims to have its procedure ISO certified, BOC assistant commissioner Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla said.

Now working on the PCAG primer, the audit group is seeking assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency on the project, Maronilla told PortCalls in text messages. He said the target is to publish the primer by April.

After previously issuing a primer for its post-entry audit process, BOC is now working on an updated version, which will implement the new rules under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

In 2014 the post-clearance audit function was transferred from BOC to the Department of Finance, only to be returned to the customs bureau in 2017, a year after the CMTA, which provides new rules on the post-clearance audit program, was signed into law.

The PCAG primer will contain all the regulations on post-clearance audit, as well as the answers to all possible questions of importers, PCAG division chief Angelito Ursabia told PortCalls in a separate interview on the sidelines of the PortCalls and Asia Customs & Trade forum on customs audit on March 15.

The new procedures in post-clearance audit, formerly known as post-entry audit, were released just last January under Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 01-2019, signed by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on November 29, 2018 and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on January 9, 2019.

CAO 01-2019 covers the post-clearance audit of all records required to be kept by all importers, beneficial or true owners of imported goods, customs brokers, agents, and locators. It also implements the Prior Disclosure Program (PDP), formerly known as Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP), as a compliance and revenue measure.

Currently, about 32 companies have been issued Audit Notification Letters (ANLs), which inform the companies that they will be subjected to post-clearance audit and which contain information on the audit procedure. Some of these companies are in the pre-audit stage while others are already in the audit proper, Maronilla noted.

Some of these 32 companies were issued ANLs due to industry complaints, like those coming from the automotive sector, asking to check the companies’ compliance level. BOC also issued ANLs to some Super Green Lane (SGL) companies, which Maronilla noted are firms that depend on the post-clearance process.

Currently with about 29 auditors and eight audit teams, PCAG plans to hire more auditors after the election ban is lifted so they can audit more companies in other industries, according to PCAG director Fernandino Tuason.

While PCAG has no collection target, its internal aim is to collect P1 billion per quarter, or P4 billion in 2019.

Ursabia, in a presentation during the forum, noted that as of February 14, before CAO 01-2019 became effective, 16 companies have availed of the VDP under the old rules, with total collections amounting to P72.274 million (paid in 2018) and P508.8 million (paid in 2019). – Roumina Pablo

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