Senator proposes legalizing ukay-ukay

Customs said they seized various counterfeit and used clothes from a warehouse in Mayzan, Valenzuela City, in July.

Through Alyssa Nicole O Tan, reporter

A SENATOR raised the possibility of legalizing the commercial import of second-hand clothing while shops across the country illegally sell ukay-ukay.

“I think it’s time, if the Bureau of Customs (BoC) can’t control the importation of ukay-ukay, to get them to pay taxes so the government can make some money out of it,” Senator said Rafael T. Tulfo in mixed English and Filipino during a Ways and Means Committee hearing on Tuesday.

He questioned customs about the widespread smuggling of second-hand clothing, commonly referred to as ukay-ukay. Republic Act (RA) No. 4654 prohibits the commercial import of used clothing.

“We have implemented measures against smuggling. Indeed, as we ramp up and intensify our efforts against smuggling, smugglers are also becoming more innovative,” Deputy Customs Commissioner Edward James D. Buco said during the hearing.

Mr Buco pointed out that several shipments of second-hand clothes have been confiscated this year and legal proceedings have been launched against importers.

However, Mr Tulfo said that even if BoC does not recognize shipments of second-hand clothes, it should carry out follow-up actions when they see second-hand shops.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian said customs should coordinate with local government units to combat smuggling of second-hand clothing.

“Local governments may not even be informed that these types of operations are not within the law,” he said.

Mr Gatchalian said it may be time to re-examine RA 4654, which bans the importation of used clothing and rags, to protect public health and the nation’s dignity.

“We can’t blame the retailers for selling ukay-ukay because I don’t think they know it’s illegal. In fact, many retailers pay business permits but sell ukay-ukay,” he added.

Senator Pia S. Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Innovation and Futures Thinking Committee, said second-hand clothing promotes “responsible consumption”.

However, she noted that some items of clothing may be unusable and simply thrown away.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael L. Ricafort said taxing second-hand clothes would help the government generate much-needed revenue.

However, he said many retailers and manufacturers are being hurt by the influx of cheap, used clothing.

“There may be companies or industries that could be adversely affected by the increased competition from these imports, such as: B. Apparel or apparel manufacturers who may have reservations or objections to potential job or other business losses,” he said business world in a Viber message

“There have also been allegations that some of them have been repurposed or diverted from donations or charities, presenting some potential loopholes or complications such as the risk of misdeclaration, among other things, as part of the informal economy,” he added. This poses a challenge for the proper documentation and declaration of imported items.

Domini S. Velasquez, chief economist at China Banking Corp., opposes legalizing the import of second-hand clothes.

“If there are any ukay-ukay specific bugs, they need to be reviewed and fixed by the relevant authorities,” she told BusinessWorld in a Viber message. “In terms of conducting business within the country, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and LGUs are the right entities that should ensure businesses pay appropriate taxes.”

John Paolo R. Rivera, an economist at the Asian Institute of Management, said strict customs regulations are needed.

“Before you can implement tax policy, supporting regulations must first be enacted,” he said business world in a Viber message. “Taxing them may require additional layers of policy enforcement, such as: B. Business Registration and Permits. If this cannot be taken into account, it could be another tax policy that will have problems with collection,” he added.

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