IN the last three years, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has been implementing its latest automation program, funded mostly from its P500-million computerization project and partly from various foreign-assisted projects.
The BOC-MISTG has been issuing press releases and statements on its plans, and yet, we are seeing a slow pace in the implementation of the automation program. What exactly is its status now and what should we really expect?
Areas for Automation
Based on the customs modernization program, BOC plans to computerize most of the following customs processes:
- Accreditation of importers, customs brokers and third parties
- E-submission of Airline and Shipping Manifest
- Lodgment of Goods Declaration
- E-payment of duties and taxes
- Processing of Declaration
- Online Releasing System
- Online Submission of Import Permits and Licenses
- Risk Management and Selectivity
- CBW/Bonds Liquidation
- TCC application and processing
Current State of Play
BOC presently has provided computerized systems in three main areas of customs operations.
For the lodgment of import entries, customs has implemented the online filing of import entries for shipments subject to duties and taxes. However, customs still requires the submission of the manual copies for customs processing. In addition, for shipments bound for PEZA zones (except for SEIPI shipments) and CBWs, processing is still a manual and tedious process.
BOC has long provided for an online releasing system but the actual releasing is regularly delayed due to the gap in the submission of payment records from the banks to customs. BOC and the banking industry have yet to provide a system for electronic payment of duties and taxes.
Many shipping lines and airlines (including shipping agents, consolidators) are now submitting their manifests, bills of lading and airway bills through the e-manifest system. Again, the system is yet to be fully implemented.
What to Expect
BOC is in the process of testing and implementing several computerized systems as follows:
- Client Profile Registration System (CPRS)
- National Single Window Program
- Customs E-Manifest System
As previously written in this column, CPRS provides a system for online submission of the profile and data of entities dealing with BOC through existing VASP providers. BOC is expected to issue soon the rules and regulations on this new system. The new rules will likely include the requirements for submission by the registering entity of digital photos, electronic signatures and other necessary documents. For custom brokers, the CPRS will require the use of the digital signature in the filing an import declaration.
In the near future, this system will be aligned with the AEO (Authorized Economic Operators) program which will entail entities dealing with customs to implement security measures to ensure safety across the supply chain. Entities accredited as an AEO will have special trade facilities and will enjoy similar treatment in other countries.
The BOC, through the VASPs, are also in the final stages of fully implementing the e-manifest system. Once fully implemented, this will eliminate errors in the submission of manifest data and facilitate the uploading of the shipping data into the customs automated operating system.
Single Window Program
For companies importing regulated goods, the application and processing of import licenses, permits and clearances is a complicated, time-consuming and sometimes, expensive process.
Part of the commitments under the ASEAN Single Window Program is for the Philippines to provide a single digital window for submission and approval of all import licenses, permits and clearances. The submission and approval must not only be online; the approval of the licenses and permit will moreover be done together with the processing of import entries. This project will require other government agencies to automate their processes and link their systems with custom. Obviously, the whole program will take a lot of time and effort and will be implemented in stages, depending on the capabilities of each government agency.
The author is an international trade consultant, and a licensed customs broker. He is a lecturer on logistics, indirect tax and customs, and a lecturer of Ateneo and BayanTrade on International Supply Chain Management. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your comments.