By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Ways and Means has approved a substitute bill seeking to amend the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) to modernize and strengthen the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House panel, disclosed on Tuesday that the substitute bill on the proposed amendments to Republic Act No. 10863, the CMTA, hurdled his panel on Monday, January 27.
“In sum, the ultimate goal of the proposal is to increase the efficiency of the Bureau by optimizing its internal procedures without compromising its quality of service,” he said.
“The bill also hopes to decrease the burden of certain tasks through third-party engagement and improvement of infrastructure,” he added.
Salceda noted that the proposed substitute bill is “a collective effort of our legislators in refining the entire customs process by amending pertinent provisions of the CMTA.”
At least six measures have been filed to amend the CMTA.
“Despite its passage (CMTA), Congress has continuously sought to address the evolving complexities of trade in the furtherance of government collection and public interest,” Salceda said.
He said the substitute bill seeks to simplify processes on collection and payment of tax due on dutiable goods, and regulate personnel movement within the BoC in accordance to the Attrition Act of 2005.
He said his panel also approved a provision seeking the earmarking of revenue collection for the purpose of developing the BoC’s infrastructure, equipment, and personnel.
It was Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon who pushed for such amendment authorizing the BOC to use a portion of its collection for modernization, IT projects, and personnel development.
“The committee adopted the provision to authorize the BOC to use five percent of the incremental increase per year in the agency’s collections for the purpose,” Biazon told the Manila Bulletin.
Salceda said among the other salient provisions of the bill are pre-shipment inspection of containers based on standardized risk parameters; effective control and management of Customs Bonded Warehouses (CBW) and Customs Freight Warehouses (CFW) based on appropriate business requirements; defining the authority of district collectors in processing Tariff Classification cases; and simplifying the issuance and conduct of alert orders and warrants of seizure.
He said the bill also seeks the engagement of third-party service providers for public auctions to efficiently dispose goods through public bidding.
The bill also provides documentary requirements of vessels from foreign ports in order to facilitate trade security and avoid smuggling, Salceda noted.
The measure also calls for the supervision and regulation of third-parties transacting with the BoC by implementing a risk management system and creating a committee under the bureau for such purpose, it said.
“The State is constitutionally responsible in pursuing trade policies that serve the general welfare and in utilizing all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity. Such responsibility is concretized through sound legislation,” Salceda said.
“The Committee is optimistic that this measure will be approved for the benefit and convenience of the public,” he said.
AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin, chairman of the TWG, said the CMTA amendments are necessary to improve the country’s international standing as far as trade facilitation is concerned.
“Since 2017, the country’s institutional arrangement and cooperation rating plateaued at 55.56 per cent from 2017 to 2019. Should the bill be passed into law, the country’s rating is expected to progress,” she said.
“The main objective of the bill is to improve trade facilitation and assist the government in revenue collection,” she said.
She noted that provisions seeking the simplification and clear definition of some processes in the customs clearance of imported goods, and stricter administrative sanctions, specifically on the supervision and regulation of third parties, are also being proposed to curb corruption and improve the efficiency of the Bureau.