Bill to fully automate Bureau of Customs passed
The House of Representatives has passed on final reading a bill modernizing the operations and procedures of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to curb rampant smuggling.
On Oct. 9, before it went on recess, the 291-strong lower chamber voted to approve House Bill No. 5525, or the proposed “Customs Modernization and Tariff Act,” one of the priority measures identified by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
Authored by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the bill seeks to fully automate BOC operations to reduce chances for corruption and technical smuggling.
It will also harmonize the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines with the Revised Kyoto Convention, or the blueprint for modern customs procedures developed by the World Customs Organization.
This will make it easier for traders, importers and exporters to comply with border requirements, according to the bill.
The measure will also update the country’s existing tariff and customs law to more effectively address modern business and trade practice, and reduce the cost of doing business due to customs modernization, thus, encouraging more trade investments.
Another salient feature of the bill is that it ensures transparency and public accountability in the BOC by preventing district officers and frontline employees to hold the same position for more than three years.
It delineates the treatment for free importation, regulated importation, prohibited and restricted importation.
The bill also provides additional remedies for the importers to pay for or redeem their goods pending forfeiture, and simplifies customs procedures on express shipments and relief consignments intended for victims of calamities.
Furthermore, the bill increases the fine and imprisonment penalties for violations.
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