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MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs said yesterday it may impose tougher measures on balikbayan boxes for fear that these tax-free packages are being used by traders to smuggle goods into the country.
“The existing rules are obsolete and we may have to reassess our coordination and processes with consolidators for stricter and improved compliance,” Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina said in a statement.
“Our spot checks from several warehouses show how misconstrued the rules may have become. People are sending in used clothing, home appliances and items of the same kind that can well be used for commercial purposes,” he said.
Lina recounted that some items inside these balikbayan boxes could be considered as smuggled goods due to non-compliance with the Philippine Tariff and Customs Code.
Some packages were found to be “spilling with undervalued items and under-declared contents” during the bureau’s spot checks, he said.
Balikbayan boxes are duty and tax-free packages designed for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sending home gifts to their families, the BOC said.
However, it should always be noted that these packages have limitations, such as contents not exceeding $500 in value, Lina said.
“Canned goods, grocery items and other household effects must not exceed a dozen a kind, while apparel whether used or new must not exceed three yards per cut,” Lina said.
He added that one consignment per sender during a one-month period is allowed.
These packages should also not contain any banned or regulated firearms and ammunition, prohibited drugs, pornographic material and gambling material.
“Home appliances are not allowed unless these are consigned to returning Filipino residents and overseas contract workers. We will seize these prohibited shipments and revoke registrations of forwarders or consolidators if we find any violations,” Lina said.
He further said examination of the shipments is allowed and if a receiver finds any items missing from the packages, he may report this to the proper authorities.
Congressional probe soughtMeanwhile, a group of OFWs immediately sought an investigation into the reported plan of the BOC to impose additional taxes on balikbayan boxes and other consolidated shipments.
Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante party-list chair, said Congress must look into this.
According to Regalado, Migrante has received information that the BOC plans to increase clearing fees for all containers entering Philippine ports to as much as P100,000 to P120,000.
She reported that the first increase was actually imposed last July and another will reportedly be implemented this October.
“What is the reason and rationale for this increase? Why was it imposed despite strong opposition from forwarders and OFWs alike? Where will the added cost go?” Regalado asked.
She said the least the government could do to help the millions of Filipino workers abroad is to stop any money-making schemes that will affect them and their families.
“Reports from freight forwarders and stakeholders in the balikbayan box industry showed that no consultations were held, nor was there an official memorandum to announce the new round of increases,” Regalado said.
Freight forwarders earlier complained that the BOC has approved an increase of taxes covering all shipments in a consolidated container from P80,000 to P180,000.
The imposition of additional taxes on consolidated shipments should be thoroughly investigated by Congress when legislators hear the agency’s proposed 2016 budget, Regalado said.
She said the additional taxes, which could translate to P325 per balikbayan box, would surely be passed on by the freight forwarders to OFWs
Read More: http://m.philstar.com/314191/show/a2c30a5878582a115113c07b50e90532/
Magbabago ng ilang patakaran ang Bureau of Customs kaugnay sa pagpapadala ng balikbayan box. Balak nilang habulin ang mga nagpapadala ng bulto-bultong produkto sa mga balikbayan box para ipangnegosyo, pero hindi naman nagbabayad ng tamang buwis.
Read More: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/business/08/18/15/patakaran-sa-pagpapadala-ng-balikbayan-boxes-pinahigpit
The Port of Manila was fully decongested last month, with its operations “completely normalized,” Malacañang said Monday.
In a statement read by presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda during a press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the Manila port congestion “has been resolved.”
“Over the past three weeks, the ships with berthing schedules were accommodated accordingly. For ships that arrive unscheduled, they were able to dock within 24 to 60 hours,” Almendras said.
Both the International Container Terminal Services Inc. and the Asian Terminals Inc. have already been “maximized to facilitate the flow of trade and cargo,” with utilization rates of 79 percent to 84 percent," he added.
“There was a time that the ports and all container yards were flooded with empty containers. At the end of February 2015, this is no longer the situation,” the Cabinet official said.
Almendras thanked the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), local government units, government agencies and other stakeholders for enforcing the enhanced truck ban and routes to help decongest the container terminals.
The Cabinet secretary acknowledged that the port decongestion “was a long process complicated by many factors,” including ship scheduling, cargo handling and truck ban hours.
According to a data from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), yard utilization in all Manila ports as of 7 a.m. of Feb. 19 was at 77 percent.
The yard utilization target set by the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion is 80 percent.
PPA noted that yard utilization level has been hovering around 75 percent to 79 percent since the Papal visit in January.
The number of vessels waiting at pilot station decreased to five, excluding the approximately 10 ships at berth, while vessel turnaround time remains at two days and the average yard productivity for both ports is 18 moves per hour per crane, according to a PPA data on Feb. 6.
During the last few months of 2014, the government stepped up efforts to address the problem, including shipping out overstaying cargoes.
President Benigno Aquino III also signed an executive order declaring the Batangas and Subic ports as extensions of the Port of Manila to encourage their use as alternate piers in case of congestion.
A Cabinet cluster also passed a resolution allowing some truckers to have all-day access to the ports.
As part of measures to decongest the container terminals, the government significantly raised fines imposed on overstaying cargo to discourage importers and brokers from leaving their container vans at the port facilities.
The government lost some P70 billion due to port congestion from April to September last year, according to National Economic and Development Authority. – VS/NB, GMA News
Read More: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/445273/economy/business/manila-ports-no-longer-congested-palace
DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo ChancoSo we have been warned not to expect Christmas goodies this year or be prepared to pay through the nose for the goodies that are available. It is because Santa Claus and his containers of goodies are stuck in Manila port and may not be able to get everything out in time for Christmas.
I guess Sec. Rene Almendras, the Cabinet official with the responsibility to solve the problem still has a lot of work to do. Rene can do a whole lot better by going to the roots of the port congestion. There are long festering problems at the Manila port and Erap’s truck ban is not the main problem.
For instance, I was about to praise Rene’s move to declare Subic and Batangas as alternate ports. Indeed I hear both ports are now getting more traffic. But Rene’s Executive Order should have been more explicit and daring.
In the future, the order says the declaration of a port congestion or emergency will be made by the DOTC Secretary upon the recommendation of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) board. But PPA is conflicted. While Batangas is under the PPA, Subic isn’t. Why would PPA make it possible for Subic to get some of the business? That’s the problem with government agencies performing regulatory and business functions and is also captured by private vested interests.
What Rene should have done is what the Thais did in Bangkok. They capped the volume in the old Bangkok port and declared all future volume will have to go to a new port about a hundred kilometers away.
I am hearing reports that they plan to put new berthing facilities in the Manila port. Even if the Manila port has enough space for that, the streets of Manila which must handle all that additional cargo doesn’t have the capacity to absorb anymore. We must cap the volume in Manila and build additional capacity elsewhere. Otherwise Erap and other city mayors in Metro Manila should reimpose the truck ban.
I realize it is difficult for government go against private vested interests. I bumped into Dick Gordon in a recent diplomatic function and got an earful on why this is so. He recalled what happened to Subic when ICTSI used its influence on the FVR administration to block the entry of Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa.
I am aware of Dick’s vision to make Subic not just a Freeport but a major hub in the region. Subic was already a hub for supplying all US Navy ships and planes in the Western Pacific all the way up to the Indian Ocean. So it was logical to use Subic as a civilian logistical hub as well.
Dick also saw the opportunity arising from the high costs of port operations in Hong Kong, plus the then uncertainty of China’s take over in 1997. He thought Subic could be positioned as an alternative transshipment port.
When SBMA bidded out the operations of Subic port, it attracted many interested bidders including the Hutchison-Whampoa Group, one of seven bidders who responded to the published invitation.
Three were declared by the SBMA as qualified after passing the pre-qualification evaluation conducted by the SBMA’s Technical Evaluation Committee. The list included International Container Terminal Services Inc. (or ICTSI); a consortium consisting of Royal Port Services Inc. and HPC Hamburg Port Consulting GMBH (or RPSI); and Hutchison Ports Philippines Limited representing a consortium composed of Hutchison, Guoco Holdings (Phils.) Inc. and Unicol Management Services Inc.
The services of three international consultants recommended by the World Bank for their expertise were hired by SBMA to evaluate the business plans submitted by each of the bidders. All the consultants, after review and evaluation, unanimously concluded that Hutchison’s Business Plan was “far superior to that of the two other bidders.”
Why? As between Hutchison and ICTSI, the latter was going to infuse $70 million in infrastructure improvements within the next four years, while ICTSI was going to do so only after 10 years. The consultants also noted Hutchison’s 120-year track record in port operations; the amount of cargo they carried around the world; their ability to divert transshipment cargo to Subic.
Even before the sealed envelopes containing the bidders’ proposed royalty fees could be opened, RPSI formally protested that ICTSI is legally barred from operating a second port in the Philippines based on Executive Order No. 212 and Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Order 95-863. RPSI thus requested that the financial bid of ICTSI should be set aside.
This protest not only stemmed from the fact that DOTC’s own rules prohibited it, but also because there was an apparent conflict of interest. Because ICTSI was locked-in in respect of its contract in Manila, Gordon believed it didn’t want Subic to succeed and only bidded for the Subic ports to ensure that their business position in Manila would not be compromised.
This is why, Gordon told me, ITCSI bidded to make infrastructure improvements in Subic only after 10 years! Why would it invest in Subic when it still had a lot of investments to make in Manila? And why would it want Subic to succeed if the success of Subic would mean the downfall of its business in Manila?
Anyway, ICTSI did make the highest bid of $57.80/TEU; Hutchison $20.50/TEU and RPSI $15.08/TEU. On Aug. 15, 1996, the SBMA-PBAC issued a resolution rejecting the bid of ICTSI because “said bid does not comply with the requirements of the tender documents and the laws of the Philippines.”
At the outset, Gordon explained to me, it would seem ICTSI’s bid is supremely advantageous over the other two bidders. However, ICTSI’s bid of $57.80 comprises more than 50 percent of its total cargo tariff. That means it will pay government more than 50 percent of the total amount it collects.
ICTSI filed a letter-appeal with SBMA’s Board of Directors. ICTSI also filed a similar appeal before the Office of the President. FVR approved the recommendation of the Palace legal counsel to among others reinstate ICTSI’s bid and to disregard all arguments relating to “monopoly”.
The SBMA Board of Directors reevaluated the bids as ordered by FVR but insisted in a unanimous vote to select the Hutchison bid as the winning bid. It cited Hutchison’s realistic Business Plan offering the greatest financial return to the SBMA.
Gordon explained they based their decision on the evaluations of the three consultants, and it made better business sense because Hutchison was in a better position to divert cargo to Subic from Hong Kong.
But Malacañang insisted on a rebidding. Gordon observed that “if Li Ka-Shing saw the potential of building Subic up, he probably lost his respect for our leaders for their paucity of vision, for feathering their nest over the interest of our country and people.” Gordon said that during the historic handover of Hong Kong to China, he was asked by a Cabinet official why Li Ka -Shing seemed to snub FVR in one of the luncheons there.
Gordon recalled that “Li Ka-shing actually chided a red-faced FVR in front of other forum participants for ‘screwing’ his company on the Subic port deal. Sources revealed that FVR feigned ignorance over the issue and even motioned Balong Arevalo to investigate the allegations of Li Ka-shing. The reason was simple, he was cheated by the National Government in Subic.”
“How sad,” Gordon sighed. “The Philippines had one of the world’s biggest port operators – a big fish on the line to be hauled in, if you will – but its leaders let it go because of patronage. Hutchison, which was quite ready and willing to invest in modernizing Subic Port, pay us rent, and bring in the transshipment operations that would have created so many investments, jobs, and development all over Luzon, was cheated out of the deal of the century and let our country and our poor down.”
“Worse,” Gordon explained, “we ended up with more debt and a well-endowed port but no shipping activity and no economic opportunities for the many who are poor. This is a classic case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
“Later, the country was exposed to even more debt. The Estrada administration borrowed from the Obuchi fund of Japan to erect port cranes to build the Subic port which the winning bidder was required to do at no cost to the government plus payment of container moves and rental of land for the container yards.”
“Unfortunately,” Gordon said, “because ICTSI wielded its undue influence, a golden opportunity for the country slipped out of our hands.”
That, folks, is rent seeking by an entrenched vested interest allowed by a government that had been captured by elements of the same social elite behind our country’s inability to progress today. And to think it happened under FVR, supposedly the best President we have had in recent memory…
Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco
Read more: http://m.philstar.com/315469/show/4dcbef0992629a708e343f6902ce6d69/
Consumers were given advance notice Wednesday by truckers that some goods that will go on sale this Christmas will cost more because of higher storage costs at the Port of Manila effective on Thursday.
"Ganoon ang epekto nun sa bandang (huli). Lahat kasi ng ikakargang gastos sa isang produkto ipapasa sa consumer kaya tataas. Ganun ang domino effect noon,” said Rodolfo de Ocampo, a trucker and president of the Port Users Confederation (PUC).
To partly force the owners and consignees of shipments at the pier to bring out their containers and decongest the port, the Philippine Ports Authority ( PPA ) set at P5,000 per day storage fee for a 20-foot container after the five-day free storage period. The old rate was P500 per day.
The other rates:
- 35-foot container - P8,750 per day
- 40-foot container - P10,000 per day
- 45-foot container - P11,250 per day
The new rates take effect Thursday, October 2.
PUC chairman emeritus Noimee L. Saludo said each importer has about 10 to 50 containers that have not been released yet because they don have warehouses for them.
Saludo said the higher rates will cost the truckers a lot. ".... lahat talaga tumataas na, gasolina, tax and then itong storage fee na nakakalula! Ang end result niyan talaga pupunta sa consumers," he said.
Read More: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/381785/economy/business/expect-higher-fees-at-port-of-manila-to-result-in-costlier-christmas-goods-truckers-say