MANILA - President Aquino has signed into law the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the ways and means committee and sponsor of the CMTA, said the measure is designed to increase the tax-exempt value of items sent by overseas Filipinos to their families back home and help minimize incidents of corruption and smuggling.
"With the increase in the values, we lessen the discretion of the customs officials to inspect goods and collect taxes, thus minimizing cases of corruption and smuggling. The CMTA aims to overhaul and modernize the bureau which has long been perceived as one of the most corrupt and underperforming government agencies in the country," Angara said.
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Under the new law, the tax exemption ceiling for balikbayan boxes will be increased to P150,000 from the present P10,000.
House leaders said three bills are still awaiting the President's signature. Congress will hold its last session on Monday.
Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina welcomes the passage of the CMTA.
Lina said the measure will pave the way for a more streamlined process and a "cashless, faceless and paperless environment" that will help reduce corruption and technical smuggling and result to enhanced revenues.
"Emphasizing the ease of trade through streamlined processes, the CMTA will establish the requisite foundation for a cashless, faceless and paperless environment in customs, reducing corruption and technical smuggling that will result to enhanced revenues," he said.
Lina added that efforts are already underway to attune current Bureau of Customs systems to the new provisions in the CMTA.