THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) recorded significant strides in its priority goals for 2020, topped by the full automation of its frontline transactions and a 100-percent accomplishment rate on its target to modernize the agency’s risk management processes despite the operational challenges posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a statement Sunday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III congratulated the BOC led by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on its achievements in 2020, especially on its efforts to employ digital tools to automate its operations, curb smuggling, and further improve its delivery of services to the public.
Guerrero said the BOC reached its 100-percent accomplishment rate on fully automating its frontline services by allowing the online submission of documents through its Customer Care Portal System, upgrading its electronic-to-mobile (E2M) system to computerize manual processes, and accepting online payment options like PayMaya.
“The E2M upgrade is continuously being developed, but critical modules are already being deployed in various ports, online payment through PayMaya was established and online submission of documents is now integrated via the Customer Care Portal. Likewise, all deliverables for our priority program on improving our risk management system were also achieved on time,” Guerrero said in his report to Dominguez.
The BOC achieved 100-percent completion of its target to improve its risk management processes in 2020 by utilizing an electronic Cargo Targeting System, enhancing its cargo selectivity system and rolling out a new, user-friendly Universal Risk Management System (URMS), Guerrero said.
“Let me congratulate you for a good year despite all the difficulties we have encountered,” Dominguez told Guerrero.
“Your achievements in digitalization, in seizing smuggled goods particularly cigarettes are very good achievements and really helped us clean our cigarette business of illicit cigarettes and smuggled cigarettes,” Dominguez added.
On the customs modernization program, Guerrero said major developments were implemented in 2020 in various BOC offices in the implementation of this priority initiative, which will go into full gear this year with the BOC’s plan to operationalize its Customs Operations Center, establish a Customs Training Institute, kick off new customs systems and continuously upgrade its E2M processes.
“The BOC will be undergoing process reengineering to improve the country’s customs administration, reduce transaction costs and enhance predictability and transparency of the clearance process this year,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said the BOC also completed the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification of the sub-port of Dumaguete and the Customer Care Center-Port of Manila and the re-certification of the Port of Batangas, which means these offices met the standards on customer satisfaction, compliance with regulatory requirements, and ease of doing business (EODB).
“The BOC also received the highest award from Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) -- the Gold Trailblazer Award for the Compliance Stage of the Public Governance System,” he said.
On enhancing trade facilitation, Guerrero said the BOC improved its Advance Ruling process and Provisional and Transit Goods Declaration procedures, which resulted in a 91-percent accomplishment rate for this 2020 goal.
In 2020, he said the BOC also accomplished 90 percent of its goal to review its penalty rules, which includes a draft customs administrative order (CAO) on the Manual of Penalties that was already pre-cleared by the Department of Finance (DOF).
Also, the BOC hired 385 new employees to fill its plantilla positions and enhance the management and technical skills of its personnel through various learning, training and scholarship programs in 2020, Guerrero said.
On its goal of intensifying border protection, Guerrero said the BOC increased its number of apprehensions in 2020 through the use of modern security equipment, the establishment of the Customs Operations Center, implementation of the fuel marking program, and the training of personnel.
The BOC seized P9.7 billion worth of smuggled goods from January 1 to December 28, 2020, of which more than half, or about P5.2 billion in value, were smuggled cigarettes and other tobacco products.
At an almost 100-percent accomplishment rate, the BOC enhanced its priority program on stakeholders’ engagement by improving the Customs website and conducting mostly online meetings and webinars in 2020 to familiarize clients and other concerned parties on the different customs processes, Guerrero said. (PR)