Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bureau of Customs: We are not after 'pasalubongs' from OFWs

http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2015/08/23/Bureau-of-Customs-BoC-OFW-balikbayan-box.html
The Bureau of Customs said all it wants is to stop abuse of the system brought on by the smugglers.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Bureau of Customs (BoC) will not increase taxes on balikbayan boxes nor was it after the pasalubongs from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
"No such statement on tax increase has been made," the BoC said In a statement issued on Sunday (August 23).
The BoC added it does not want to impede existing processes.
The BoC clarified that it was not after OFWs or their pasalubong to their families.
Instead, it was after smugglers who had resorted to using the balikbayan boxes and consolidated shipments to smuggle contraband into the country through fake consignees or through the insertion of smuggled boxes or goods, otherwise known as riders, in consolidated shipments.
The BoC said that stricter compliance would be necessary because the rules on consolidated shipments had been abused.
"Hindi Customs ang nagbabalak abusuhin ang mga OFWs. Ang gusto namin sa Customs ay matigil na ang pang-aabuso sa sistema na dulot ng smugglers," the BoC statement said.
[Translation: "The Bureau of Customs doesn't want to abuse OFWs. All we want is to stop the abuse of the system brought on by the smugglers."]
It said the bureau has paid greatly in revenue losses through these smuggling activities, and more importantly, the affected industries.
"Existing rules on the balikbayan boxes still apply, including inspection as stipulated in the law. However, as mentioned before, the bureau is not technologically equipped to inspect all incoming boxes as efficiently as we want. Alternatively, spot checks has been and will continue to be conducted," it said.
The BoC also encouraged OFWs and their families to inform the agency if  they would receive severely tampered balikbayan boxes or missing, so it can help address the problem.
Undesecretary Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, meanwhile, said she understood the high emotions of the OFWs and their families regarding the BoC's regulation of opening the balikbayan boxes before being released.
"'Yung mga balikbayan box po na ‘yan ay matagal iniipon. Tuwing sumusuweldo po nagtatabi ng kaunti makabili po ‘nung mga kaunting ipapadala dito sa mga kamag-anak dito sa Pilipinas," she said.
[Translation: "Every time the workers receive their salaries, they save a little just to buy stuff to send to their families in the Philippines. They save up for the balikbayan boxes."]
Valte added that the Palace would send the feedback it had been receiving to BoC Commissioner Alberto Lina so they he could see the effect of the regulation.
She also said that she was guaranteeing that the feedback of the OFWs and their families would be made known to the president.

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