DICT to crack down on illegal freight forwarding companies

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    INFORMATION and Communication Secretary Gringo Honasan has vowed to act on reports that some couriers and freight forwarding companies are operating without the required licenses and are not paying taxes to the detriment of the public.

    During the budget hearing on the DICT’s P3.6 billion proposed national budget for 2020 last Tuesday, Honasan, a former senator, agreed with Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza that the government should regulate the couriers and freight forwarding services to protect consumers from unscrupulous and unlicensed companies.

    Atienza called the DICT’s attention on the “colorum” courier services that are doing business in the country, saying it is putting the Filipino consumers and their cargoes at risk.

    Honasan recognized the growing problem in the industry, particularly the entry of illegal couriers that are mostly foreign-owned.

    “You just beat us to it (making the issue public),” he told Atienza. “We already noticed this complicated situation. It’s not just couriers and forwarding, there’s also Angkas (delivery service) and others.”

    There were reports that some of these couriers and on-line delivery service providers are not listed as taxpayers in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and do not have the required DICT licenses.

    Atienza said he would file a resolution calling for an investigation into the issue because it is illegal and unfair to legitimate courier and forwarding companies that are paying the correct amount of taxes.

    Honasan assured Atienza that the DICT is conducting its own investigation to determine those behind the illegal operation.

    “We will fully cooperate and participate in any Congressional inquiry,” the secretary told the lawmaker.

    Atienza said the e-commerce and courier industry has to be regulated because it is now worth some P36 billion and since 67 percent of Filipinos are on the Internet.

    Among the cases reported is that of Ninja Express Tech Philippines Inc. (Ninja Van) which is reportedly 99.99 percent owned by Ninja Logistics Pte. Ltd., A Singaporean company.

    Ninja Van reportedly has no accreditation from the Department of Trade and Industry-Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (DTI-FTEB) and as a domestic or international freight forwarder.

    It also has no authority to operate as a domestic of international freight forwarder from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) even if it uses airlines as mode of transportation in delivering packages.

    Ninja Van reportedly bought 40 percent shares of Wall Street Courier Services Inc., which was accredited by the DICT-Postal Regulations Division (PRD) as an authorized private delivery service.

    However, while Ninja Van operates under Wall Street’s license, it issues invoices for its operations as Ninja Van, which is a non-registered outfit and therefore does not pay taxes.

    Another company, J&T, is a forwarder licensed by the DTI and the CAB but reportedly has no DICT approval to render domestic courier services.

    A company called Black Arrow Express is licensed to operate in Metro Manila but is also reportedly operating in Cebu and Leyte.

    Atienza said that apart from consumer safety, some of these services are found to be violating constitutional limits on foreign ownership.

    Since they operate as a public service, logistics companies are supposed to be covered by the 60-40 ownership rule, the lawmaker said.

    “If we need to craft a law to regulate the courier services to protect the consumers and the small-time players in the industry, we will have to do it,” he said.

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