Press Release
May 13, 2009


Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas has sought an explanation from Finance Secretary Margarito Teves on the reported collection by the Bureau of Customs of duties on imported books, which has sparked complaints from the country's book importers and sellers. "Hindi ito maaaring gawin ng Customs. Sisilipin natin ito," Roxas said as he wrote Teves to question the alleged 1% duty collected for educational, technical, scientific, historical and cultural books and the 5% duty for books/materials which are non-educational which are intended for sale, barter or hire.

The Visayan senator asked Teves to shed light on the status of implementation of Department of Finance Order No. 17-09 dated March 24, 2009, which also clarified guidelines on duty-free importation of books allowed under existing laws and international agreements.

He noted that while the department order covered all applications for duty-free importation of books as allowed under the Tariff Customs Code, the UNESCO Florence Agreement and Republic Act 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, "we have received reports that the new Department Order has imposed a more stringent policy in importing books in our country, therefore restricting and discouraging booksellers and importers."

Under the new DOF policy regulation, imported books would now have to be examined by the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education, which would then determine if they are economic, technical, vocational, scientific, philosophical and historical books. Duties would then be determined after such classification but the books could only be released once importers and booksellers are able to present necessary authorities from various agencies for such importations.

The books being stored in private storage warehouses while undergoing classification, importers and sellers would also have to pay the allegedly high storage fees collected by the private firms.

"Mahalagang malaman natin kung ano ang estado nitong bagong panukala ng BoC, lalo na at malapit na naman ang pasukan at siguradong nagdadatingan na ngayon ang mga aklat na inangkat na gagamitin para sa school year na ito," Roxas said.

He asked Teves to list down the legal basis for the issuance of the department order and to cite appropriate customs laws and rules in support of the implementation of the directive.

The senator likewise sent a letter to National Book Development Board chairman Dennis Gonzalez and requested for the agency's position on the implementation of the DOF order. He asked Gonzalez to focus on the "impact to booksellers and importers in our country."

Booksellers and importers have been writing the senator, seeking assistance in addressing the issue and claiming the DOF regulations would adversely affect the industry.

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