PPA in turf dispute with BoC on abandoned cargo policy


The Bureau of Customs’ (BoC) proposed administrative order seeking to put up temporary storage for overstaying and abandoned cargo diminishes the jurisdiction of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the agency managing the country’s public ports said.

The Philippine Ports Authority wants to clarify that the agency and not Customs bureau that has the duty to provide warehousing and storage services, as well as set their fees.

In a statement on Monday, PPA Assistant General Manager Hector E. Miole questioned certain parts of the draft order, including a provision that will allow the Customs bureau to impose rates for storage services in identified Customs facilities and warehouses (CFW).

The proposed order will implement Section 307 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), which calls for the Customs commissioner to “establish a system for temporary storage of imports prior to goods declaration in case of abandoned or overstaying goods.”

“CMTA has neither repealed nor superseded the jurisdiction of port authorities over port operators, such as those who provide warehousing or storage services,” Mr. Miole said.

He said the Customs administrative order (CAO), might imply that the bureau “will issue guidelines for storage rates as well.”

He said Section 804 of the CMTA provides that the bureau may impose an annual supervision fee to operators of CFWs and Customs bonded warehouses but not for warehousing and storage services.

Mr. Miole said the bureau’s authority over the warehousing or storage service providers is for enforcement of customs and tariff laws.

“[BoC] does not, however, provide for the said services as this is a function of the port authority or the port operator, as the case may be,” he said.

“The guidelines for the applicable storage period, the rates, as well as violations thereof are functions that are still lodged with the concerned port authorities,” he added.

Section 2 of the draft order calls for a systematic handling, storekeeping, safekeeping and preservation and inventory of abandoned or overstaying goods. The aim is to protect the interest of the bureau against unauthorized withdrawal or pilferages. It will ensure zero losses or spoilage of the abandoned or overstaying goods entered in the facility.

Under Section 4.2 of the draft, all separate temporary storage facilities will be part of the premises of the bureau, under its control and supervision, and must conform with international standards.

A separate subsection states that inventory and other management record of imported goods handled and stored by CFW operators “shall be maintained and kept at all times in their places of business and shall be accessible and available electronically to authorized [Customs] officers.”

“Such records shall also be subject to inspection by authorized customs officials and upon proper demand, shall immediately be produced and submitted to such officials,” it reads.

The draft order further states that goods stored temporarily must be placed under a customs procedure, auctioned, condemned or reexported within 90 days after due notice from the issuance of the order of abandonment.

Any request for lifting of the order of abandonment may be filed “within 15 days from notice with the Law Division and subject to the approval by the District Collector.”

Mr. Miole said the draft order must be amended to clarify that it is the PPA and not Customs bureau that has the duty to provide warehousing and storage services, as well as set their fees.

He said allowing the bureau to issue guidelines on storage and rates “would result in having two guidelines on the same subject matter issued by different government agencies.”

“It is PPA’s position that the proposed CAO on CFWs should be limited to the guidelines for establishing, maintaining and operations of CFWs only, without reference as the provision of warehousing or storage services. Providing for this delineation is useful for the efficient and effective operations within the port, as it will create transparency between the different legal regimes operating inside the port premises,” he said.

He also rejected the bureau’s plan to declare the CFWs as “part of Customs premises” since these facilities are under the PPA.

Source: Business World

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