Palace on ‘balikbayan’ box tax hike: What hike?
Malacañang on Friday said it was not aware that the Bureau of Customs had increased duties on containers carrying balikbayan boxes and would look into the report of lawmakers.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace has asked the Department of Finance to explain the alleged increase, which was raised at a hearing at the House of Representatives earlier this week.
“I did see that report and we also want to know more about it… We have already asked the Department of Finance about it and [we] want to know more so we can give you a definitive answer on this,” Valte said at a Palace briefing.
Valte, a lawyer, said that as far as she knows tariffs could not be raised without an “approval via treaty or by Congress.”
The 125 percent tax increase imposed on balikbayan box forwarders began last month, following public indignation over the plan of the Bureau of Customs to open and inspect balikbayan boxes, according to Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares. He and Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo have asked Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina to justify the hike on balikbayan boxes.
According to Colmenares, Lina increased duties on twenty-foot containers from P80,000 to P120,000 in August this year, then further increased it to P180,000.
Overseas Filipino workers groups said the increased duties on the containers would inevitably raise the cost of shipping balikbayan boxes to the Philippines.