Exporters buck hike in customs service fees

By Richmond Mercurio

MANILA, Philippines -  Exporters are opposing the proposed increases in customs service fees which they said are “exorbitant” and would increase the cost of doing business in the country.

The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) and the public-private Export Development Council (EDC) have recommended a status quo on the existing fees collected by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and subject the new fees to regulatory impact assessment.

The EDC said the National Economic and Development Authority should be consulted and sought for clearance first before the imposition of new or increase in fees to ensure “a balance between recovering the costs of services rendered and the socio-economic impact of their imposition”.

Philexport, for its part, said the planned fee represents an increase of at least 100 percent since there are no fees being imposed currently.

“This will negatively impact on the cost of doing business especially for the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) who are struggling from other domestic and international challenges,” Philexport said in its position paper.

The export group cited Executive Order 554 issued in 2006 directing all departments, bureaus and agencies to improve the competitiveness of the country’s export sector by eliminating the fees and charges imposed on export clearances, inspection, permits, certificates and other documentation requirements.

A draft Customs Administrative Order (CAO) stipulated the BOC shall collect services and fees for services rendered. These shall be classified as supervision and monitoring fees, transaction processing fees, and administrative fees.

Under the CAO, overtime pay and meal, as well as transportation and accommodation allowance shall be paid out of the service fees collected.

The EDC said services under the CAO are inherent functions of the BOC.

It noted the salaries for the employees performing these services are already provided for by the government under the General Appropriations Act of 2017.

“The business sector pays taxes that are used by government to provide services. Any additional fees and charges for such is tantamount to double taxation. Hence, additional fees should be charged only on additional services,” the EDC said.

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