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Digital Transformation Key to Philippine’s Modern Customs Bureau

With business slowing down during the pandemic, it’s easy to conclude that the Bureau of Customs, the country’s top supervisory body on imports and exports, should not have had massive collections during this period. However, contrary to expectations, the government bureau posted superior numbers than earlier revealing the power of digital adoption.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III disclosed that a more efficient Bureau of Customers awaits the next administration. Thus, the incoming president will inherit an administration with a more modernised and sophisticated customs bureau that has been transformed into a highly efficient agency and automated the majority of its processes.

This was revealed on the occasion of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) during its 120th founding anniversary.  Dominguez congratulated the agency under the leadership of Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero for accelerating its digital transformation and performing “exceedingly well” even amid the last two difficult years of the pandemic.

The numbers speak for themselves. Dominguez said that even with the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, the BOC’s revenue collection in 2021 grew by 20% compared to 2020 and surpassed its collection target last year by 4%. Its 2021 collection of PHP645.76 billion (USD 12,339,207,910) based on preliminary data was even higher than its pre-pandemic collection of PHP630.31 billion (USD 12,043,988,692) in 2019, he said.

BOC’s outstanding performance in the middle of a public health crisis is the outcome of the digitalisation of its processes and other administrative reforms implemented under the Duterte administration to plug leakages, enhance efficiency, and enable the agency to perform better in its mission of facilitating trade.

– Carlos Dominguez III, Secretary, Department of Finance

Moreover, he added that as the agency moves into its 120th year of serving the Filipino people, he is optimistic that the reforms already in place and the dedication of the professionals serving the bureau will ensure that the revenue targets will be more than met. He feels that the BOC has never been as sophisticated, transparent and modern as it is now because of these initiatives incorporated by its leader. He commended the proactive leadership of Commissioner Guerrero and his team for continuing to transform the bureau into a highly efficient agency.

The Finance Department leader described how confident to transition the agency to the next administration a modernised customs administration at par with global standards. He believes the newly established BOC Customs Operations Center, along with the automation of 82 of the bureau’s processes, will enable it to more quickly join the ranks of world-class customs services. As a result, it will be one of the lasting legacies of the period.

Dominguez said the Philippines’ rising merchandise trade volumes in 2021, which has already exceeded the pre-pandemic level, and total foreign direct investments (FDIs) last year that have surpassed the 2020 level are the result, in large part, of the BOC’s “remarkable accomplishments”.

He also lauded the BOC for playing a key role in quickly delivering a total of 225 million COVID-19 vaccine doses last year, with each of these shipments cleared within the day and promptly delivered to their assigned warehouse facilities.

It’s not the first time digital adoption has played a key role in boosting the Philippine economy. Just recently, the country has deployed smart energy to save and cut costs as the oil crisis rolled out.

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