DOF includes COVID-19 vaccine imports in Mabuhay Lane

Published February 26, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Department of Finance (DOF) approved the inclusion of all importations of coronavirus vaccines in the “Mabuhay” or express lane to allow their quick processing of the tax and duty exemptions.

In a statement released by the DOF, the department said that Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III approved the inclusion of COVID-19 vaccines in the Mabuhay lane as well as the waiving of their filing fees.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III

Dominguez, upon the recommendation of Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, also allowed COVID-19 vaccine importers to use the Tax Exemption System (TES) Online Filing Module in processing their shipments.

According to Dominguez, these regulatory relief measures aim ”to further support the government’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.”

 “COVID-19 vaccine tax exemption applications in the Mabuhay Lane, which is under the DOF’s Revenue Office, will be processed within 24 working hours,” the department said.

These tax exemption policies will be incorporated in the inter-agency guidelines on the implementation of a One-Stop Shop for International Donations and Government Procured COVID-19 Vaccines.

The inter-agency guidelines are being prepared by the DOF, Department of Health, Department of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Customs, and the Food and Drug Administration. 

Tionko, who heads the DOF’s Revenue Operations Group, recommended the inclusion in the Mabuhay Lane of COVID-19 vaccine imports, “regardless of the applicable legal basis,” to “allow for the expedited processing of the tax and exemption of such applications.” 

Under DOF Department Order No. 54-2000, the Secretary of Finance is authorized to include additional sectors that may avail of the express service under the Mabuhay Lane. 

“We add that the Mabuhay Lane currently processes all Relief Consignment under Section 120 in relation to 121 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). The Lane is expected to process all COVID-19 vaccines which may qualify as relief consignment,” Tionko said.

Relief Consignment refers to goods donated to national government agencies and accredited private entities for free distribution to, or for the use of, victims of calamities. 

Under Section 121 of the CMTA, relief consignment imported during a state of calamity and intended for the use of calamity victims shall be exempted from the payment of duties and taxes. 

Created on May 13, 1994 through DO 29-94, the Mabuhay Lane is tasked to expeditiously process applications for the tax and duty exemption of certain groups of importers, which include export-oriented firms, returning residents and non-profit, non-stock educational institutions.