Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals, Press Releases » BOC takes another look at WB’s 2017 customs modernization plan

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) plans to conduct a feasibility study on the implementation of a project proposed two years ago by the World Bank (WB). The $150-million project, which seeks to modernize operations and automate systems at the customs agency, is one of the options being considered by the bureau for its automation plan.

Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, in a text message to PortCalls, said the feasibility study will be carried out because BOC is “considering to seek WB assistance” to fund the project, called Philippines Customs and Trade Facilitation Project (PCTFP) and first introduced by the Washington-based lender in 2017.

“This 150-million-dollar project is envisioned to support BOC to reform and upgrade its systems, procedures and operational activities in order to improve transparency, accountability and predictability, [and achieve] streamlined and harmonized business processes in line with accepted international standards,” Guerrero said in a statement.

PCTFP aims to support export-led economic growth by assisting BOC in reducing trade costs, improving transparency, and increasing revenue collection. The project will consist of three operational support components—institutional development, trade facilitation, and ICT modernization—as well as one project management component.

When introduced in 2017, the PCTFP was welcomed by then Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña, who in 2018 said requirements for the approval of the loan to fund the project have been submitted by BOC to WB.

Last January 2019, then deputy commissioner for Management Information System and Technology Group Jeffrey Ian Dy said PCTFP was one of BOC’s options for its automation plan, but that the bureau was also looking at cheaper alternatives.

BOC spokesperson Atty. Erastus Sandino, in a text message to PortCalls on April 15, said the Department of Finance (DOF), BOC’s mother agency, has given clearance “to pursue consultations with WB regarding our modernization program.”

And in relation to BOC’s automation plan, Guerrero last April 1 signed Customs Special Order No. 44-2019, which orders the reconstitution of the Project Management Unit (PMU), which is tasked to exercise overall administration, planning, management and supervision of the BOC Modernization Project.

Last April 2 to April 5, BOC officials and representatives also attended a workshop on PCTFP hosted by WB.

Commissioner’s chief of staff Atty. Teodoro Jumamil, who was present during the workshop, emphasized the immediate need to implement BOC’s modernization project.

“The modernization project is significant to BOC in order to improve efficiency in customs administration. The bureau has to supplement, augment or enhance its present capabilities until we achieve world class customs,” Jumamil stressed.

PCTFP is currently in WB’s pipeline of projects for the Philippines and is still up for review by the lender’s Board and, since it’s a loan, by the Philippine government as well. Guerrero noted that any final decision on the project will have to be approved first by the DOF. – Roumina Pablo

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