WB chooses consultants for Customs modernization project

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
  • The World Bank has awarded the consulting contract for the Philippine Customs Modernization Project
  • The Project Supervision and Quality Assurance Services contract was awarded to Quality Institute, Emerging Markets International (formerly Cardno Emerging Markets), and GT Capital
  • The awarding is a crucial first step to kickstart Philippine Customs Modernization Project implementation and key procurements
  • The project was hit by delays due to, among others, the merger of a contractor 
  • The contractors will oversee the project’s information and communications technology modernization and organizational development
  • The Philippine Customs Modernization Project aims to enhance customs administration, reduce costs, and increase transparency for traders

The World Bank has awarded the consulting contract for the Philippine Customs Modernization Project (PCMP), a crucial first step in the latter’s implementation.

The information was shared by WB on November 28 and confirmed to PortCalls by Bureau of Customs (BOC) assistant commissioner Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla.

The notice of award for Project Supervision and Quality Assurance Services (PSQA) was given on November 15 to Spain’s Quality Institute, Belgium’s Emerging Markets International (formerly Cardno Emerging Markets), and Spain’s GT Capital.

The WB had expected to award the PSQA contract by December 2021, but the project got bogged down by issues such as the merger of a contractor that had offered the most attractive bid as well as a potential conflict arising from a court case filed by a previous bidder as a result of a separate cancelled project.

READ: PH customs modernization project encounters a hiccup

The issue with the merger was resolved in September 2022. As for the court case, Maronilla said it will not affect the PSQA contract which only involves project supervision.

BOC sought bids on the consulting contract in January 2021 and had intended to fund the contract partly with a $88-million loan from the WB.

The PSQA has two main tasks: overseeing information and communications technology modernization, and working on organizational development and other human resources aspects. This includes improving the customs processing system (CPS), developing enterprise resource planning systems, and creating a remote image analysis center.

After awarding the PSQA contract, the BOC Project Management Unit plans to focus on completing bid documents for other parts of the project, such as the administrative back-office enterprise resource planning system.

The PCMP aims to enhance the customs administration in the Philippines through streamlining, automation, and creating a top-notch CPS. The WB approved a loan for this project in October 2020, and officially launched in March 2021. The total project cost is $104.38 million, with $88.28 million to be funded by the WB.

The BOC, supervised by the Department of Finance, is in charge of implementing the project. A steering committee, led by the Finance secretary, provides policy guidance for PCMP implementation. Traders, exporters, importers, and others are expected to benefit from reduced costs and improved transparency in the clearance process.

The project’s technical design focuses on automation to improve processes and integrated systems. The CPS will adhere to international standards, provide a transaction audit trail, and reduce corruption opportunities.

PCMP aims to create a simpler, faster experience for compliant traders, enhancing intelligence in targeting high-risk cargo and expanding the country’s tax and duty base.

According to WB country director Ndiamé Diop, similar customs reforms in other countries increased revenue collection by 11% to 300%. – Roumina Pablo