Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has commended the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for “impressively” continuing to improve the delivery of services to the people through the streamlining of operations and modernization of its infrastructure and systems that have, in turn, enhanced the professionalism of its ranks and beefed up its capabilities to collect revenues, facilitate international trade, and foil smuggling and other customs fraud.
Dominguez said proof of this laudable performance is the 6 percent rise in the BOC’s revenue collections from P593.11 billion in 2018 to P630.5 billion in 2019, which has helped the Duterte administration increase its critical investments in infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
Aside from its revenue-generating function, the BOC has also been on the front line of defense in the government’s war against illegal drugs, counterfeit products and other harmful commodities, Dominguez noted.
“The Bureau, under the leadership of Commissioner Guerrero, is leading the charge in the comprehensive effort to make the Philippines a better governed and more prosperous country,” said Dominguez during Friday’s activities marking the BOC’s 118 founding anniversary held at the South Harbor, Port Area in Manila.
He said the latest credit rating upgrade from BBB to BBB Plus received by the Philippines from the Rating and Investment Information, Inc. (R&I) was made possible, in part, by the BOC’s enhanced performance as a revenue collection agency, which allowed the government to maintain fiscal discipline despite a massive spending program.
Dominguez noted that the BOC is continuing to improve its efficiency and strengthening its campaign against smuggling through its modernization efforts that will further improve customs administration with streamlined, transparent and simplified procedures.
The event also marked the launching of the BOC’s Customs Service Center, which, Dominguez said, will provide transparent and faster services to customs stakeholders and improve the ease of doing business.
“More importantly, the launching of the Customs Service Center brings us closer to our goal of implementing a zero-contact policy to fully eradicate corruption,” Dominguez said.
Led by Dominguez, the event also included the random testing of fuel from Phoenix Petroleum, Pilipinas Shell and Petron injected with the official chemical marker under the government’s fuel marking program.
Dominguez noted that the BOC will also play a central role in the first-ever nationwide implementation of the fuel marking program, which is meant to combat smuggling and misdeclaration of petroleum products believed to be costing the government between P27 billion and P44 billion pesos in annual revenue losses.
The fuel marking program, which is expected to raise an additional P20 billion in revenues, will also help deter the entry of substandard products, safeguard the integrity of automotive and heating fuels, and shield vehicles from the damaging effects of adulterated oils, Dominguez said.
Dominguez likewise cited the BOC’s role in facilitating trade and improving the ease of doing business in the country through its participation in the Asean Single Window (ASW), a regional initiative that aims to speed up cargo clearances and promote economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among the 10 Asean member-states.
By joining the ASW, the BOC can now issue electronic Certificates of Origin in selected ports using the Philippines’ National Single Window, he said.
“When all our ports of entry are fully engaged in this system, communications costs for business should be drastically decreased. Ultimately, this will usher in new investments into our economy, expedite the movement of goods across borders, and enhance our trade competitiveness,” Dominguez said.
He said that with its heightened anti-smuggling efforts and new reform measures underway, he is confident that the BOC will continue to exceed expectations.
“I hope the men and women of the Bureau are up to the task of transforming this agency into a world-class customs administration that is credible, modern, professional, and at par with the most advanced economies. The more efficient the Bureau becomes, the more effective the government will be in achieving its goals,” Dominguez said.
“I trust all of us here today will continue to deliver our best. Our entire economic strategy relies on your being able to do so,” he added.