The Department of Finance (DOF) has cited the “crucial role” that customs brokers play as among the lead partners of the Duterte Administration in its campaign to lick official corruption, eliminate poverty and promote trade and investments in our country that has become one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.
DOF Undersecretary Antonette Tionko pointed out that customs brokers will help the new government raise an extra P1 trillion each year for massive investments in infrastructure, human capital and social protection, for it to keep up the growth momentum and reduce poverty incidence from the current 21.5 percent to 14 percent by 2022.
“The role you will be playing from this day forward will be crucial in the coming years as our government ramps up its spending activities to foster a sustainable and equitable growth and development,” Tionko said at the Customs Brokers Oathtaking Rites, which was held at the Tent City, Manila Hotel.
Tionko said that, “The new government’s full support for the profession of customs brokers is underlined in the Customs Modernization Act (CMTA), which has declared the State’s policy ‘to give priority attention and support to professionalizing the practice of customs brokers profession in the Philippines which will be beneficial to the country in general and to the economy in particular.’”
But just as the Duterte administration has “initiated reforms to bring about the changes that we need to uplift the lives of our impoverished people, so too should the industry promote innovations aimed at predictability, efficiency and transparency,” she said.
“These innovations will ensure that our country continues to attract trade and investments, and remain competitive globally,” Tionko said.
“As you are well aware, the Administration targets to spend an additional P1 Trillion each year on infrastructure, human capital and social protection to reduce the poverty incidence from 21.5 percent in 2015 to 14 percent by 2022,” she said. “This translates into 6 Million Filipinos freed from the bonds of poverty.“
To achieve this, the Administration has set in motion its 10-point socioeconomic agenda, among which are the institution of a progressive tax reform and effective tax collection; accelerating annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product); and increasing competitiveness and ease of doing business by adopting best practices and relaxing constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except on land.”
These initiatives will not only jack up public investments, but also spur foreign investments and trade to the country, she said.
“As the government’s partner in nation-building,” she said. “each of you will hold in your hands, and hopefully not in your pockets, the much needed revenues that will allow us to build new roads, airports, schools, and other public facilities, as well as fund services our great people badly needs and rightfully deserves.”
Given the government plan to shift to a federal form of government, she pointed out that “local governments, which largely rely on their share of BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) collections, will have a larger piece of the total revenues of the national government, which include contributions from customs collections and other sources.”
“This, obviously, is also another impetus for the government to improve its collection efforts and to raise funds,” she said.
She said that “in line with this, I assure you that we will continue to support a climate conducive to the practice of the profession and to maximize your capabilities and potential.”
According to Tionko, “Businesses, which we expect many of in the coming years as dividends from the measures the Administration has been undertaking, will likewise be dependent on each one of you to facilitate their transactions with ease and nary a taint of ill motive. Your efforts will be their jumping board to spreading goods and services across the country.”
“To operationalize these action plans, with regard to customs,” she said, “we at the DOF have already set in motion public consultations on the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations for the CMTA, which was enacted to modernize rules and procedures for faster trade, reduce opportunities for corruption, improve service delivery and improve supply chain.”
Tionko bared that at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), its leadership has already issued a number of administrative orders and implemented measures “meant to promote uniformity and consistency in customs rules, and transparency and efficiency in their collection efforts. “
The BOC, along with the BIR, has recently stepped up the government’s enforcement drive, she said, “seizing P1 Billion worth of fake cigarettes, fake tax stamps worth approximately P175 million in taxes, with raw materials, machines for cigarette manufacturing and other paraphernalia.”