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Another clue as to why Education in PI is Shit

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Another clue as to why Education in PI is Shit

Postby Mr S » Tue May 19, 2009 12:04 pm

This is another example as to why the Philippines does things ass backwards and can't get their shit straight!

Look at this cartoon, especially the fine print!


Set our books (duty) free!

Over the past week, only one thing has been on the minds of writers, publishers, and literary-minded bloggers all over the country, and it’s called the Great Book Blockade of 2009.

The moniker comes from an essay by Robin Hemley, the director of the Nonfiction Writing Program of the University of Iowa, entitled “Dispatches From Manilaâ€￾. The piece details how books were prevented from entering the country from January 26 to March 17 allegedly due in part to a certain customs officer. Upon noticing the large volume of “Twilightâ€￾ books entering the country, the said officer decided it was in line with government policy to have the importers of these books pay customs duties.

Faced with either paying expensive storage fees or paying customs duties, the importer chose to pay duties instead, thereby reportedly prompting customs to hold all other books from entering the country and demand that duties be paid for them as well.

Hemley’s essay further explained that this, in turn, prompted booksellers to start negotiations with government officials to get their books out of storage and into stores.

“Now they were told that all books would be taxed: one percent for educational books and five percent for non-educational books,’’ the essay continues.

Hemley argues that this system flies in the face of the Florence Agreement, an international agreement signed by the Philippines in 1952 which guarantees the free flow of “educational, scientific, and cultural materialsâ€￾ between countries and declaring that all books be duty-free. He pinpoints an undersecretary at the Department of Finance (DOF), Estela Sales, as the reason behind these guidelines, citing an “Orwellianâ€￾ Powerpoint presentation before booksellers.

The Florence agreement

Lirio P. Sandoval, president of the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), confirms that books were indeed being held in storage for about a month as book importers refused to pay the duties they were being asked to pay by customs.

“There were four or five shipments pending at the airport, and the first order of business was to have those released,â€￾ he recalls. “Secretary Teves called for a meeting of the stakeholders and agreed that these shipments would be released duty free, and that he would issue a department order that would confirm the clarifying guidelines that Ms. Sales has issued.â€￾

In an interview with Students and Campuses Bulletin, Sales, on the other hand, is quick to point out:

“There is no ulterior motive for these duties. We just want to interpret what the law says. Even if there is a treaty, how do you implement it? There has to be a guideline to avoid confusion and corruption, as it leaves no room for any other interpretation,â€￾ says Sales. “The books stopped by customs were intended for sale, and the importers could not produce certification that these books were educational. And under Section 105(s) of the 1973 Amended Customs and Tariffs Code, duties have to be paid on these books.â€￾

These guidelines, say Sales, simply follow the rule of law. Section 105(s) of the 1973 Amended Customs and Tariffs Code specifically states that “duties will not be imposed on books so long as they are not for sale, barter, or hire.â€￾ The Florence Agreement, she says, is not absolute, and that it is up to the signatory countries to decide how it is to be implemented in their own country.

She also points out that the imposition of these duties works in favor of the local publishing industry, as mandated by Republic Act 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act.

“If you will encourage book importation, you are not encouraging book publication. It runs counter to the purpose of encouraging book publishing in the country. You want people publishing books, not importing them,â€￾ she says.

If the importers wish to pay only a one percent duty on the educational books which they are selling, Sales says that they can approach the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

And if importers do not want any duties imposed on their books, they simply have to prove that these books are not for sale.

“We do not profess to be technical people,â€￾ says Sales. “We are giving it to DepEd, UNESCO, and CHEd to determine if they should be exempt, and then we implement what the law states.â€￾

Book importers, says Sales, were also given a whole month to issue a legal challenge against the clarifying guidelines but failed to do so.

“We published these guidelines in major newspapers on April 12, and before that book importers were given a month to challenge or object to anything.

We did this even if we had no obligation to do so, since these are only clarificatory guidelines for customs.

We published them so the booksellers would know about it,â€￾ she says.

Sales also says that the one percent and five percent duties imposed on imported books is hardly something to crow about.

“Think about it. For R1 million worth of books, that’s only going to be R10,000,â€￾ she says. “That is just a peso or a R5 increase. Para namang tinigil ko ang pagbabasa ng sambayanang Pilipino.â€￾

Books are not just goods

However, Sandoval says that a lot of problems exist when it comes to Sales’ arguments, beginning with her views on the local publishing industry.
“If we have to impose duties for our local publishing industry to compete, why is it that our local writers are against the imposition of duties on books?â€￾ says Sandoval. “Books are not just simple goods. They convey knowledge. They rely on these foreign books for inspiration, for style, for what is selling in other countries.

Our own authors are the main buyers of these books.â€￾

Sandoval also claims that an importer is yet to acquire the one percent certification
for educational books that Sales talks about, and that no consultation was made with industry players
with regards to these clarifying guidelines.

“Before, to be given an exemption, we go to the DepEd, then UNESCO, and the DOF. But when the National Book Development Act was passed, no more UNESCO, no more DepEd. We simply go to the DOF, tell them that these are the kinds of books that we are importing, and then they issue the exemption. Their exemption says you have to pay five percent, whether the book is educational or not. That is what is actually happening,â€￾ he says.

Sandoval also cites RA 8047 to contradict Sales’ assertions that Section 105(s) of the 1973 Amended Customs and Tariffs Code allows for the imposition of customs duties on imported books. Just like any other law, RA 8047 has a repealing clause that states all other laws, decrees, rules, regulations and other administrative issuances are repealed and modified accordingly, and that includes the 1973 Amended Customs and Tariffs Code.

Overall impact on schools

But the most distressing part about these duties now being imposed on imported books is the effect that it will have on the book budgets of schools in the country.

“Institutional buyers like UP buy technical, professional books which cost about R2,000 each. Any educational institution has a certain budget for the purchase of books,â€￾ Sandoval says. “Let’s say their budget is R1 milllion. If you increase the duties by five percent, effectively ’yung budget nila magiging R950,000 na lang, so less books will be purchased. And these books always come up with new editions, and schools are forced to buy older editions because they cannot afford newer editions. That is the overall impact on the educational system.â€￾

Sandoval and the BDAP already have a position paper ready, and plan to appeal directly to the President. Even if one assumes that these guidelines are legal, says Sandoval, it does not mean that the collection of these duties is right.

“Definitely no,â€￾ he says. “You are making access to knowledge limited. You are limiting the development of your own countrymen. We have to admit that there are other countries, like the US, who do pure research through journals and books. How can you access that? Let them import their good ideas here and we will export our ideas there. The exchange of ideas works that way.â€￾[/img]
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Postby gmm567 » Tue May 19, 2009 3:24 pm

so a $10 book costs 10 cents more. Is that really all that bad?

One thing that will do too is stimulate the domestic book market. You can ship a book electronically and have printing press print it right there in the philipines. It might help make local jobs. Might--I say. The taxes are very low so the advantages of domestic production isn't that great unless you're printing real large volumes of books.
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Postby Mr S » Tue May 19, 2009 4:24 pm

If you read the article correctly they are talking about books in the tens of thousands, not a few books here and there. The Philippines is a poor country and most province schools cannot afford the high prices of books, especially if they are being taxed even more then they need to. This country has a lot of taxes and you don't even know where the money is really going to. I have to pay money just to get my mail! That's pretty ridiculous in my opinion. The first time I received something from the states I couldn't believe it! Someone had to pay postage and then for me to get my mail I have to pay those crooks! Another reason why it's annoying living here at times.
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Postby gmm567 » Tue May 19, 2009 4:37 pm

Ok lets talk about books in the 10's of thousands.

One book run at 50,000 at 10 per book at 1% tax is $5,000. With that one run you just paid for that computerized printer. That is you buy the printer and you avoid the tax. You just paid for your printer, and created jobs in the Philipines.

I am not sure it's all that bad when you look at the big picture. It's not uncommon for small countries to put tarriffs (taxes) on things to protect their local inudstries. The disadvanatage is that the local protected industries don't don't have to improve and don't develope the vigor that competition produces..but it will create local jobs.

And the philipines needs jobs. The people who run that printing press will be philipino
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