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Biz Buzz: Punitive

/ 01:05 AM February 29, 2016

A CONTROVERSIAL new fee system in relation to Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS), an electronic platform to book containers from the major ports of Manila, is set to be implemented by the government this March through port terminal operators International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI).

Failure to pick up cleared cargo by the second hour of allotted time will be slapped a fee of P1,625 while “no show” will cost P3,251. Trucks are considered on time if they arrive an hour before until an hour after the gate in slot, which means trucks should be fielded within the hour when all the Bureau of Customs clearances had been secured.

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While penalizing “no show” sounds only rational, there are concerns that the penalty for “late” pick-up is too punitive.

“This is highly improbable considering the traffic congestion, even if the truck is already in BOC gate, the queue and traffic will most probably exceed one hour,” a source explained, noting that customs brokers were thus up in arms on this issue of penalty for late pick-up.

Affected players also feel that this is an “unauthorized” charge, arguing that there isn’t any executive order or memorandum supporting such “unreasonable” charging of trucks based on a deadline that’s physically impossible to comply with.

Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, for his part, told Biz Buzz that the fee structure when it came to port operations was the domain of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), not BOC’s, noting that his agency’s mandate was on duties and taxes. However, he said that when it came to improving facilitation, the BOC could exercise its “moral ascendancy” and influence how the system could be fine-tuned, such as in the case of the fee structure.

The TABS system is still undergoing birth pains in terms of implementation but Lina gave his word that the government would review the small details.

While every player was still undergoing a lot of adjustments, Lina said the endgame for TABS would be to distribute trucking movement within the 24 hours of the day, easing the traffic flow of import/export goods, thereby eliminating the need for truck bans and making the logistics system more efficient in this country. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

The tax(wo)man cometh

Officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) have a lot of explaining to do when the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) finally begins its probe on billions of pesos in uncollected and unpaid documentary stamp taxes (DST) from small town lottery (STL) operations.

Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said the agency has not cleared PCSO of accountability for allegedly failing to collect and remit to BIR taxes that were supposed to be paid by private STL operators nationwide.

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That statement from the feisty BIR chief comes on the heels of the stand of PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II that the agency has received no adverse opinion from BIR as regards the DST issue.

But Henares minced no words in saying that PCSO is duty-bound to collect and remit the taxes as the state charity arm is responsible for the tickets of the popular numbers game. By some estimates, the amount of PCSO’s unremitted taxes from STL has reached a staggering P3 billion— which is not “peanuts” for a game ironically called “small lottery.”

How the BIR will finally resolve this thorny issue is of great public interest, especially with the agency’s firm stand on collecting taxes even from international icons Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and recently crowned Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach. For more juicy tidbits on this unraveling saga, watch this space, people. Daxim L. Lucas

E-mail us at [email protected] Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).

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TAGS: Alberto Lina, Asian Terminals Inc., ATI, customs, ICTSI, International Container Terminal Services Inc., Kim Henares, Manny Pacquiao, PCSO, Small Town Lottery, Terminal Appointment Booking System
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