Amidst the reforms now being done by the Philippine Shippers Bureau (PSB), Bureau of Customs (BOC) and industry leaders to correct the endemic problem of late, if not undelivered cargoes in the “balikbayan” boxes industry, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon’s call for this industry’s help to raise more revenues for the government was received with optimism by its leaders.
In a consultative meeting between Customs officials and industry leaders which was initiated by Biazon last December 3, 2012, Port Users Confederation (PUC) President Dominador De Guzman, Door-to-Door Consolidators of the Philippines (DDCAP) President Joel Longares and DDCAP Chairman Monet Ungco agreed that there is a need to adopt measures geared towards a more efficient and improved collection of revenues.
BOC Commissioner’s Office Special Assistant lawyer Geniefelle P. Lagmay stressed that the Commissioner’s call was part of the Bureau’s initiative to beef-up collections amid revenue write-offs on some previously taxed commodities due to the country’s participation in international free trade agreements among others.
According to Longares, the “balikbayan” boxes forwarding business is now a major industry that serves millions of overseas Filipinos with their cargo requirements.
“Unlike the regular shipment of traders and importers, “balikbayan” boxes have something more special in them. These are gifts of love and fruits of the hard earned monies by millions of overseas Filipinos.” Longares said, adding that, “This is precisely the reason why we are saddened every time we hear reports and complaints of undelivered “balikbayan” boxes.”
Longares, who is also the President of Atlas Shippers International, Inc., the leading “balikbayan” cargo forwarder in the US said, the BOC proposal to improve the collection from “balikbayan” boxes is a welcome move for the industry so long as service efficiency in the BOC is enhanced and the incidental and unecessary costs for releasing “balikbayan” boxes are reduced, if not eliminated.
“With a streamlined procedure and less unnecessary costs in releasing “balikbayan” boxes, the proposed revenue measures might not even affect the shipping rates of “balikbayan” boxes, or if at all, it could be negligible.” Longares added.
For his part, De Guzman, who is also the President of Skyland Brokerage Corporation explained that, while “balikbayan” boxes are supposedly not taxable as these are usually personal effefct and gifts of overseas Filipinos to their families in the Philippines, and as practiced since its inception, they still paid taxes for it, if only help generate revenues for the government.
“We don’t mind paying more revenues for every “balikbayan” box we bring into the country so long as we are able to have it delivered on time and in mint condition to our clients.” De Guzman said.
While Ungco, who is also the President of Port Jersey Shipping stressed that, since he expects the “balikbayan” boxes industry to grow even bigger in the years ahead, streamlining its procedures at this time would benefit the millions of overseas Filipinos.
The first of a series of consultative meetings with “balikbayan” boxes industry leaders was also attended by BOC-REACT head Rico Reyes and Manila International Container Port (MICP) Informal Entry Chief Romy Rosales. The new revenue measures for “balikbayan” boxes, as agreed during the meeting, will take effect on January 19, 2013.