Customs bureau computerization seen to curb smuggling, corruption
MANILA, Philippines—Efforts to combat smuggling will get a new boost when the Bureau of Customs (BOC) rolls out a suite of software solutions under its P418-million Integrated Philippine Customs System (i-PCS) project.
The BOC was among the government agencies that were singled out by President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) before Congress. The President said the agency had repeatedly fallen short of its collection targets, and has been unable to stop smuggling and corruption among its ranks.
In his post-Sona statement, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon unveiled his renewed game plan to increase collections, stop smuggling and curb corruption in the bureau. One of the main pillars of his reform agenda is the “full computerization” of the bureau.
“With computerization, there will be no contact between the importer and customs employees. No paper work. Everything will be by computer. Aside from curbing corruption, transactions in the BOC will be quick. Fixers will be put out of business. And collections will increase,” he said.
BOC’s computerization agenda includes implementing the i-PCS, which builds on the gains of the electronic-to-mobile (e2m) computerization project that has been operational since 2009.
The i-PCS project was awarded last June to the joint venture of Dubai-based Webb Fontaine and local firm Global Resource for Outsource Workers Inc.
The project will integrate all customs processes in a single environment replacing the current multisystem setup, and paving for much faster and efficient customs transactions.
New security features that will boost the bureau’s existing antismuggling programs will be put in place, including a petroleum inventory system that will accurately and efficiently monitor the movement and inventory of petroleum imports up to the last liter. Another feature is the integration of X-ray imaging in the importer’s declaration that will make actual scanned images of each containerized shipment viewable to examiners.
Another software called GovernmentExecutiveVision© will provide a reporting tool that can be used for “data mining and customs business intelligence.”
“All of these, combined with political will of the agencies concerned, would definitely offer a great opportunity to fight smuggling in this country,” said Pascal Minvielle, a Geneva-based executive of Webb Fontaine.
With i-PCS, Webb Fontaine will position the Philippines among countries in Europe, Middle East and Africa whose customs agencies the company most recently automated, “in terms of world-class customs management that enable efficient revenue collection and secure trade facilitation.”