City issues ‘ukay-ukay’ permits

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Sunday, June 24, 2012


THE Department of Trade and Industry Cebu (DTI) and the Cebu City Treasurer’s Office were reported to have issued business name registration certificates and business permits to ukay-ukay stores.

This, despite a law banning the importation and selling of used clothing in the country.

Approved in 1996, Republic Act 4653 seeks “to safeguard the health of the people and maintain the dignity of the nation by declaring it a national policy to prohibit the commercial importation of textile articles commonly known as used clothing and rags.”

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The law holds a fine of not less than P200 but not more than P20,000, and imprisonment of between two and five years.

A DTI official who asked not to be named said DTI Cebu issues business name registration certificates to ukay-ukay stores even if they know the items sold are used clothing.

The official said ukay-ukay shop owners admit they are selling used clothing when applying for a business name registration certificate.

“We know it’s ukay-ukay, they tell us. What we don’t allow is the use of the word (ukay-ukay) as a business name. We ask them to change the word ‘ukay-ukay shop’ to RTW, fashion, or apparel shop,” he said.

However, Zaide Bation, DTI Cebu Province Consumer Welfare and Business Regulation Division Chief (CWBRD), said DTI does not know that it has already been issuing business name registration certificates to ukay-ukay shops.

According to Bation, the new Philippine Business Registry Form (PBR), issued two years ago, does not ask about the nature of the business and products handled unlike the old registry form.

“We don’t know if they are selling ukay-ukay because we do not ask things not found in the PBR,” Bation said.

Overruns

Meanwhile, Monina Paires, local revenue collection officer IV of the Cebu City Treasurer’s Office and head of the business tax mapping division, confirmed that the City Government issues a business permit to ukay-ukay shop owners.

Like Bation, Paires said they have issued business permits to ukay-ukay shops because owners don’t claim they sell “used” clothes when they apply for a business permit.

“They only tell us they are selling overruns, meaning old yet unused stocks,” Paires said.

She said ukay-ukay shop owners are not in full operation during the inspection, allowing the inspectors to think that they are just selling overrun RTWs (ready-to-wear). The inspection is one of the requirements before a business permit can be issued.

The “non-specific” clause of business permits, said Paires, allowed ukay-ukay shop owners to get business permits.

Ukay-ukay shops are considered as general merchandise outlets under the non-essential category, including RTWs and accessories.

“These (business permits) are not specific. But if it will be, knowing this law, we can’t issue a permit to them,” Paires said in Cebuano.

Customs

Paires also admitted she is not aware of RA 4653. She said she will raise this concern to the city attorney and will conduct a series of inspections of ukay-ukay shops.

“We were thankful when we learned about this law. We will possibly conduct an inspection. Revocation of permits is also possible),” Paires said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ronnie Silvestre, district collector of the Bureau of Customs VII, defends LGU and DTI by saying the two parties cannot be entirely blamed for issuing permits to ukay-ukay shops because ukay-ukay is an economic activity that has generated jobs.

Although he calls for the decriminalization of RA 4653, Silvestre said he does not allow the importation of ukay-ukay in the country, specifically in Cebu.

No cases of used clothing importation were reported this year to the Bureau of Customs 7 according to Silvestre.

Silvestre wants ukay-ukay to be legalized because the government can generate millions of pesos from it if taxed.

He estimated ukay-ukay importation to generate more or less P500 million annually once legalized.

“Whether it is two million or 500 million, the fact is from zero may makokolekta tayo,” he said. (Maria Jeandie Galolo Contributor)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 25, 2012.

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