Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has approved the inclusion of all importations of COVID-19 vaccines in the “Mabuhay” or express lane of the Department of Finance (DOF) to allow the quick processing of the tax and duty exemptions of these vital shipments.
Upon the recommendation of Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, Dominguez also approved the waiving of filing fees for COVID-19 vaccine applications under the Mabuhay Lane and the use of the Tax Exemption System (TES) Online Filing Module in processing the vaccine imports “to further support the government’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.”
COVID-19 vaccine tax exemption applications in the Mabuhay Lane, which is under the DOF’s Revenue Office, will be processed within 24 working hours.
These tax exemption policies will be incorporated in the inter-agency guidelines on the implementation of a One-Stop Shop for International Donations and Government Procured COVID-19 Vaccines that is being prepared by the DOF, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Tionko, who heads the DOF’s Revenue Operations Group (ROG), recommended the inclusion in the Mabuhay Lane of COVID-19 vaccine imports, “regardless of the applicable legal basis,” to “allow for the expedited processing of the tax and exemption of such applications.”
Under DOF Department Order (DO) No. 54-2000, the Secretary of Finance is authorized to include additional sectors that may avail of the express service under the Mabuhay Lane.
“We add that the Mabuhay Lane currently processes all Relief Consignment under Section 120 in relation to 121 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). The Lane is expected to process all COVID-19 vaccines which may qualify as relief consignment,” Tionko said.
Relief Consignment refers to goods donated to national government (NG) agencies and accredited private entities for free distribution to, or for the use of, victims of calamities.
Under Section 121 of the CMTA, relief consignment imported during a state of calamity and intended for the use of calamity victims shall be exempted from the payment of duties and taxes.
Created on May 13, 1994 through DO 29-94, the Mabuhay Lane is tasked to expeditiously process applications for the tax and duty exemption of certain groups of importers, which include export-oriented firms, returning residents (balikbayans) and non-profit, non-stock educational institutions.