THE implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9280 or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004 may serve as a deterrent to customs brokers with no resources or those just starting to practice the profession.
“The law appears to be a disincentive to customs brokers who having meager resources or are just starting to practice their profession chooses to band together as a single legal entity to share their resources, and be saved from the prospect of being dissuaded and be excluded from earning their keep,” Port Users Confederation (PUC) president Oscar B. Brillo said in a letter to Professional Regulation Commission chairperson Antonietta Fortuna-Ibe.
Various sectors of the transport industry earlier expressed concern over the legislation’s prohibition against corporate practice. Section 29 of RA 9280, states that “The practice of customs brokers is a professional service, admission to which shall be determined upon the basis of individual and personal qualifications. No firm, company, or association may be registered or licensed as such for the practice of customs broker profession.”
Brillo stressed practitioners may have a better chance at succeeding in their profession if they operate as a corporation considering the prospect of expanded marketing coverage, lesser overhead expenses, shared expertise and accountability.
The law may also run counter to the free business atmosphere fostered by the Civil Code and the Securities Act of the Philippines, he said. “Excluding other groups of practicing customs brokers whose companies have long been in existence and have been established, recognized, accepted and registered with proper authorities would seem to negate all that has been done to promote the freedoms fostered by the Code,” Brillo said.
Enacted in March, the law is intended to professionalize the practice of customs brokers, eliminate technical smuggling prevalent in the sector, and help enhance the revenue collection of the Bureau of Customs.
Brillo said the PUC is appealing to the commission to consider its concerns before the implementing rules and regulations are finalized and implemented.