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Philippine Customs Digitalised 82% of Operations to Boost Efficiency

Image credits: pna.gov.ph

The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has done a commendable job of collecting what the state is due far more than before the pandemic hit. The success is in large part because of the automation of a significant number of processes and its reliance on ICT to produce results.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has automated and streamlined 139 or 82% of its 170 processes and procedures under the current administration through its continuing modernisation program. Such a digital transformation has resulted in above-target collections despite the economic slowdown induced by the pandemic.

The numbers speak for themselves as earlier reported on OpenGov Asia. In 2021, the BOC collected PHP 643.56 billion (USD 12,314,230,998.00), or 104.3% of its target of PHP 616.75 billion (USD 11,801,233,712.50) for this period, and higher than its 2019 pre-pandemic collection of PHP630.31 billion (USD 12,060,698,210.50), Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.

At the heart is digital transformation. Guerrero said among the processes automated by the BOC through its Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-backed projects is the submission, processing, and approval of applications of importers and exporters. These are defined as Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs) or those recognised as having complied with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards.

To date, these processes and procedures are now done electronically through the BOC’s AEO online portal. Besides the AEO online portal, among the 30 ICT-supported systems implemented in the BOC, are:

  • customs dashboard
  • customer care portal system
  • document tracking
  • parcel and balikbayan boxes tracking system
  • electronic Advance Ruling System (e-ARS)
  • electronic Certificate of Origin (eCO)
  • Automated Bonds Management System (ABMS)
  • computerisation of Super Green Lane Office.

The BOC also successfully deployed its automated inventory management system for customs bonded warehouses (CBWs) at the Port of Manila to determine and monitor the stock inventory of bonded goods from the time of its entry into the CBW up to the liquidation of the goods declaration covered by the warehousing single administrative document.

Through the establishment of the Electronic Tracking of Containerised Cargo system (E-TRACC system), the BOC can track, monitor and audit the location and condition of containers, as well as obtain real-time alarms on, among others, diversion and tampering of cargoes.

The BOC’s Customer Care Centers allow the uninterrupted processing of shipments even during the pandemic, thus keeping businesses afloat during the crisis; while the establishment of the Customs Operations Center serves as the headquarters to integrate and analyze intelligence, enforcement and operational information gathered from various sources, Guerrero said.

From 2016 to 2020, the BOC has also procured 200 body-worn cameras, and acquired 20 patrol boats to improve its border protection capabilities, he added. In its anti-corruption efforts, Guerrero said the BOC under the Duterte administration has either reshuffled or transferred 3,855 employees, served show-cause orders to 1,407 personnel, filed administrative cases against 183, transmitted 164 complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman, relieved 192 employees, and dismissed 24 from the service.

Digital transformation is a great enabler and to a large degree, the pandemic made the case for digitalisation more pronounced. For the country’s upcoming elections, Manila has made sure to enlist the help of well-established tech companies to ensure smooth elections.

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