Full automation tops BOC’s 10-point priority list for 2020

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has identified 10 priority initiatives for 2020, including full automation of frontline services and enhancement of trade facilitation.

Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, in a media briefing on January 10, said the customs bureau “has a lot on its plate for 2020” and hopes to accomplish its new set of priorities this year “through the help and cooperation of our stakeholders and partners…”

The 10-point priority program for 2020 continues some of those on the 2019 list, plus new projects.

For this year, hiring of additional personnel to fill BOC’s manpower requirements will continue. Last year, BOC hired or promoted a total of 1,016 personnel, filling 54.67% of the authorized 6,264 plantilla positions. This year, BOC has programmed to hire or promote 1,000 more personnel.

Another priority is the full automation of frontline transactions by, among others, fully implementing the no-contact policy and constructing customer centers—initially in the Port of Manila—to allow stakeholders to make transactions without going to collection districts.

This year, too, BOC will be prioritizing the improvement of its risk management system (RMS), which is described by Guerrero as “the engine that drives many of the processes and transactions involving the bureau.”

Guerrero said the accuracy of their RMS “has greatly improved” and will be further developed through acquisition of technology and better monitoring by and coordination between offices responsible for risk management.

In 2019, with the help of its RMS, BOC issued a total of 926 alert orders, of which 675 were positive and 202 negative, rendering an effective rate of 76.96% and resulting in the collection of P40.943 billion in additional revenue. Guerrero noted that the issuance of alert orders last year had been “highly targeted and highly selective” so as not to “unnecessarily impede yung processing ng mga shipments.”

Fourth on the priority list is implementing its modernization project with the help of Washington-based lender World Bank (WB).

Guerrero said BOC submitted last year the feasibility study for the modernization project, which will be funded by a WB loan amounting to US$80 million. The budget will cover the improvement of BOC’s capabilities, including through equipment acquisition, training, and enhancement of systems and processes.

The BOC chief said he hopes the project would be approved in the first quarter of this year so implementation could then start this year.

BOC is also prioritizing the ISO certification of its units and offices, as well as its compliance with the Performance Governance System (PGS), a holistic and collaborative framework for designing and executing roadmaps for the long-term reform of Philippine public institutions.

Guerrero said BOC will continue to work on getting its ports ISO-certified to improve their quality management and efficiency.

Last year, Port of Batangas was certified to ISO 9001:2015. Meanwhile, the Office of the Commissioner; Management Information System and Technology Group; the ports of Davao, Manila, and Cagayan De Oro and the subports of Dumaguete, Mactan, Iligan; and Mindanao Container Terminal have started applying for this certification.

BOC also intends to pursue PGS compliance, targeting passing the second stage this year and completing the program by the first quarter of 2021.

Guerrero said another priority is enhancing trade facilitation. BOC will pursue this year the implementation of its Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Program in order to comply with the country’s commitment to the World Customs Organization’s SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade. The AEO program represents a customs-to-business partnership that seeks to enhance international supply chain security and to facilitate movement of legitimate goods.

In connection with this program, stakeholders are undergoing seminars and trainings while Customs personnel are already prepared to have the system fully functional before the middle of this year, Guerrero added.

Also part of improving trade facilitation is executing enhanced pre-arrival processing, advance ruling, and all other customs memorandum orders that took effect last year. BOC is also rationalizing and streamlining its customs orders for easy access of stakeholders.

BOC is likewise reviewing its penalty regime as part of efforts to improve compliance.

Other priorities include enhancing management and technical skills training for its personnel with the assistance of BOC’s international partners.

Increasing stakeholders’ engagement is also a priority this year.

Finally, the border protection function is also going to be intensified. BOC assistant commissioner Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla, in a presentation during the same briefing, said that for this purpose BOC has submitted to the Department of Budget and Management a proposal to carry out a restructuring program and establish a Customs Border Police Force dedicated exclusively to protecting the country’s borders along the sea. – Roumina Pablo