By: Marites Toledo
SENATOR Ralph Recto has strongly asserted that the law that exempts the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from paying taxes on their P150,000.00 worth of balikbayan boxes should be followed since it should be considered in effect despite of the absence of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
Recto, Senate Minority leader, argued that the absence of the new law’s IRR should not be a basis for the government not to implement and follow it.
He said “the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has no option but to waive the payment of taxes for balikbayan boxes containing less than P150,000 worth of “pasalubong” as the new law prescribing higher tax-exempt rates should be deemed in effect.”
The veteran senator made this statement after he learned that the BOC people are having second thoughts in implementing the tax exemptions on P150,000 worth of boxes sent to the country by OFWs due to the absence of IRR.
IRR is important in all laws because it is the clear guidelines on how the government and the public implement and follow the law.
The tax exemptions were done by the Congress and approved by the President of the country to impose a financial incentive to the OFWs who have stood as one of the prime movers of the Philippine economy for a long period of time.
At the same time, the tax exemptions were in line with the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Recto emphasized that the OFWs should not be punished by not implementing the tax exemptions since it is not their fault for the government’s failure to come up with the IRR.
“Hindi kasalanan ng mga OFWs natin kung natagalan ang pagbuo ng implementing rules for the CMTA. Matagal nang pasado ang batas na iyan at dapat lamang na makinabang na ang OFWs natin diyan,” Recto stressed.
BOC is set to release the IRR next month only, when in fact the OFWs have started to send balikbayan boxes for their love ones as early as September, when the law was already in effect, he said.
“As the CMTA is a voluminous law, then government should not wait for an omnibus IRR … that will cover all of its provisions. It can, in the meantime, issue an IRR just on balikbayan boxes and other OFW shipping privileges,” he said.
“Pasado ng Kongreso, pirmado ng Presidente. Mukhang nadale ng red tape sa agency level. Kung ganito ang sitwasyon, baka pwedeng ipakiusap natin na kahit yung sections lang sa balikbayan boxes [ay] ipatupad na kaagad,” Recto added.