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BOC defers 1-Assessment implementation at key PH ports

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has agreed to defer implementation of 1-Assessment, also called the Electronic Goods Declaration and Verification System (EGDVS), at the Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port, Port of Cebu and Port of Davao until early 2019.

The decision follows a request for deferment by the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc (CCBI) which pointed out certain issues of the system.

1-Assessment is a web-based queue management software/application that provides bias-free assessment by randomly assigning appraisers and examiners to each goods declaration.

Lapeña in his decision released on October 8, noted it “cannot be denied there are processes that need to be perfected and several issues need to be resolved.”

CCBI had requested the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to exempt until next year the four ports from implementation of 1-Assessment, BOC’s electronic system for processing and monitoring import goods declaration. This, said CCBI, will ensure some of the system’s features are institutionalized and stakeholders’ concerns addressed.

Lapeña told CCBI the BOC is “taking necessary precautions and the difficulties experienced are only temporary” and will be “overcome at the most immediate time.”

In a letter to Lapeña dated Sept 26, CCBI president Atty. Ferdinand Nague said the organization has been receiving reports from its different chapters, particularly in Batangas, Clark, and Subic, about “their apprehension and not- so-welcoming experience… encountered and [are] continuously encountering” with the pilot implementation.

He pointed to delays in assessment at the ports of Batangas, Clark, and Subic, where pilot testing has been in force since August even as he said CCBI supports “laudable objectives of 1-Assessment” as well as Lapeña’s efforts to fast-track and modernize procedures and address corruption in BOC.

Management Information System and Technology Group (MISTG) Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Ian Dy, in a September forum organized by PortCalls and Asia Customs & Trade, said BOC will implement phase two of 1-Assessment at all ports starting October 15.

Nague requested implementation be deferred until BOC’s National Assessment Center, which will house more than 200 appraisers and supervisors, has been created; and until the Value Reference Information System or Import Assessment Service valuation, Enforcement Security Service Motor Vehicle Monitoring and Compliance Office certificate, and x-ray images are connected to or made available in 1-Assessment.

Dy said that under phase 2 of 1-Assessment, BOC’s pool of appraisers will be housed in a “one call center-type community,” similar to what is being done in other countries. He noted the idea of placing appraisers of declarations outside the port is not new and is actually being practiced in other countries such as China and Sierra Leone.

Nague said implementing the new system at the country’s four big ports while cargoes are arriving in time for the Christmas season “might affect trade facilitation and ease of doing business.”

He said port congestion “may ensue as there are already reports of about 94% port utilization at the Manila seaports as evidenced by long queue to unload empty and/or to load laden containers.”

Dy earlier acknowledged birth pains during the implementation of the system at the three pilot ports, but added that MISTG had identified the problems and was addressing them.

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