THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) has issued an order asserting its authority to acquire imported goods whose value is underdeclared by at least 30%.

According to Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 16-2019, the Commissioner will have the “sole authority” to resort to compulsory acquisition if the shippers declare an “unconscionably low” value for Customs purposes.

“A commodity is valued unconscionably low when the Bureau, after applying all the methods of valuation, still finds a discrepancy of at least 30% in the value declared as against other references,” according to the order.

Under current law, the state has the right of compulsory acquisition through the Customs Commissioner to “acquire imported goods under question for a price equal to their declared customs value plus any duties… on the goods.”

The measure is meant to protect government revenue against undervaluation of goods, it said.

A notice of compulsory acquisition (NCA) which serves as the preliminary order, will be issued upon identifying that the goods are undervalued to the specified extent.

This will be followed by a warrant of compulsory acquisition (WCA), informing the importer that the commissioner is set to acquire the goods in cash for the declared customs value plus paid duties, within 10 days of the WCA issuance.

The acquired goods may be disposed of through a public auction, negotiated sale or other methods allowed by law.

The importer has a 20-day period to appeal the decision to the Secretary of Finance and will be given another 30 days to appeal to the Court of Tax Appeals.

The CAO, dated Nov. 5, was published on the bureau’s website over the weekend and will take effect 30 days upon its publication in a national newspaper.

The CAO serves as the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of section 709 of Republic Act No. 10863 or the Customs Modernization Tariff Act (CMTA), which was signed in May 2016. — Beatrice M. Laforga