CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Rise in tax-free ceiling on balikbayan boxes

MANILA (SE): Bishop Rupert Santos has welcomed a swansong decision by the outgoing administration of Noynoy Aquino to significantly raise the tax exemption ceiling on balikbayan boxes sent home by migrant workers.

After virtually ignoring overseas workers for the bulk of his two terms in office, his administration introduced the more user-friendly policy when he signed into law the Customs Modernisation and Tariff Act on June 1.

During a visit to Hong Kong last year, the president of the Commission on Elections, Arthur Lim, said that his office was working with the government to introduce new legislation in order to give balikbayan boxes more protection, especially from customs officers pilfering items from them.

A senator, Sonny Angara, explained that the main reason for the enormous hike in the no tax ceiling from 10,000 pesos ($1,658) to 150,000 pesos ($24,800) is to lessen the need for customs officials to go fishing around in the boxes.

Angara added that the intention is to overhaul and modernise the customs bureau, which he described as long having been seen as one of the most corrupt and underperforming government agencies in the country.

UCAN quoted the chairperson of the Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People as calling it a relief and assurance for Filipinos working abroad.

“They can now pay less to send balikbayan boxes and they can send more to their loved ones,” Bishop Santos said.

“It is good news and we are grateful,” he added.

Aquino’s congress had its last sitting on June 6.

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