ARTA probes LGUs violating ban on transport fee collection

Published May 19, 2021, 12:51 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said it was already investigating local government units (LGUs) allegedly collecting unauthorized fees from truckers despite a circular issued last month prohibiting such act.

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director-General Jeremiah Belgica (Photo from ARTA)

ARTA Director-General Jeremiah Belgica made the statement almost a month after the issuance of Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2021-01 or the Omnibus Guidelines on the Suspension of Local Government Unit (LGU) Imposition and Collection of Illegal Fees and Taxes Relative to the Transport of Goods and Products.

In a dialogue with members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Belgica said they discovered some LGUs continued to collect unauthorized fees from truckers.

“Sa pag-iikot po ng aming investigation team, nakita po na may mga sumusuway pa rin sa JMC (Our investigation team discovered during their rounds that there were LGUs violating the circular),” he said.

Belgica said ARTA was already investigating LGUs but didn’t specify the LGUs identified by their investigating team.

The JMC, penned by ARTA, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Finance (DOF), prohibits the collection of fees and taxes on the transport of goods and products.

This covers “charges for wharfage, tolls for bridges or otherwise, sticker fee, discharging fee, delivery fee, market fee, toll fee, entry fee, and/or mayor’s permit fee, or other taxes, fees, or charges in any form whatsoever upon such goods or merchandise.”

The JMC enjoined all local chief executives to adhere to the new guidelines refraining the enforcement of “any existing ordinance authorizing the levy of fees and taxes on inter-province transport of goods or merchandise, regulatory fees in local ports, and other additional taxes, fees or charges in any form upon the transport of goods or merchandise.”

The circular was said to improve the country’s logistics sector, one of the five priority areas of ARTA’s National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies (NEHEMIA) program.

Members of ARTA continue to make rounds in LGUs to investigate. ARTA, DILG, and DOF Bureau of Local Government Finance will then meet with the different LGUs to explain and exact cooperation for the implementation of the JMC.