THE House Committee on Ways and Means has approved a substitute bill seeking to amend the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

“The ultimate goal of the proposal is to increase the efficiency of the (Bureau of Customs) by optimizing its internal procedures without compromising quality of service. The bill also hopes to decrease the burden of certain tasks through third-party engagement and improvement of infrastructure” Representative Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda of Albay, who is also the Chairman of the committee, told reporters via Viber.

According to Mr. Salceda, key features of the bill include a simplified process for collection and payment of tax on dutiable goods; provisions for revenue set-asides for developing the BoC’s (Bureau of Customs) infrastructure, equipment and personnel; and pre-shipment inspection of containers.

The bill also outlines the procedures for vessels originating from foreign ports to provide documentary requirements in order to “facilitate trade security and avoid smuggling.”

The measure also authorizes the supervision and regulation of third parties transacting with the BoC through the “implementation of a risk management system and creating a committee under the bureau for such purpose.”

The substitute bill consolidates six measures seeking to amend the CMTA: House Bills (HB) 783, 784, 800, 2591, 5278 and 5548.

CMTA was signed into law in May 2016 to modernize procedures for “faster trade, reduce opportunities for corruption, improve customs service delivery and improve the supply chain.”

According to Mr. Salceda, despite its passage, Congress has “continuously sought to address the evolving complexities of trade in the furtherance of government collection and public interest.”

“The proposed substitute bill is a collective effort of our legislators to refine the entire customs process by amending pertinent provisions of the CMTA” Mr. Salceda said.

Since the CMTA came into force, the Philippines’ trade facilitation rate hit 80.65% in 2019 from 69.89% in 2017, according to the 2019 United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation. — Genshen L. Espedido