THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) is looking to interconnect and transact with other Asean countries with the implementation of the National Single Window (NSW) system.

With this, the agency has tapped Crown Agents, a United Kingdom (UK) consultancy firm that would implement reforms in the agency.

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In a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the bureau and the UK-based company, both parties will explore the collaboration, cooperation, and implementation of solutions for the national and international Single Window.

NSW’s goal is to interconnect 40 agencies for the transmission of, and access to accurate, timely, and reliable electronic licenses, permit and clearances required in the cargo, clearance process prior to release of the shipments by the bureau.

Commissioner Napoleon Morales said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently released P500 million budget for phase 1 of the project.

“The directive is to fast-track the interconnection of the agencies to implement the NSW by December 2009, for the Philippines to comply with our national commitment to interconnect our NSW with the NSW’s of the nine other Asean countries soon,” he said.

Its implementation will enable interaction between and among government agencies, shipping and freight operators, airlines importers, exporters, brokers and Customs administrations.

Likewise, the undertaking will provide the agencies with the ability to share and counter check information online and empower the transacting public with the reduction in the time and the cost of doing business.

The project is initially targeting 10 out of the 40 government agencies to have their NSW system starting December 2009.

BOC deputy commissioner Alexander Arevalo earlier explained that the permit and clearance system of said agencies mostly affiliated with the Department of Agriculture will be connected to Customs.

The following agencies that will have NSW system are: the Philippine Coconut Authority, Bureau of Fisheries, Quarantine, Bureau of Plant Industries, National Meat Inspection, Fertilizer and National Dairy, which are all under the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Import Service and Philippine Shippers Bureau.

On the other hand, the Asean Single Window (ASW) will link all member countries’ customs offices so that the documentation of import/export shipments will be fast tracked.

The ASW has been pilot tested in several countries such as the RP-Thailand, RP-Korea, RP-Brunei, Malaysia-Indonesia.

The NSW is the prelude to the ASW, without it, they cannot link or open the windows to transact with member countries.

Last month, six countries namely: Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines should have been fully NSW compliant while countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam must be ready by 2012. By 2015, these nations are expected to be all automated. (FP/Sunnex)