Thursday, October 30, 2014

Drilon bats for quick passage of BOC modernization law

MANILA-The upcoming holiday will be merrier if gifts and “balikbayan” boxes will make it to their recipients on time for Christmas.

But that does not always happen, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said, citing numerous cases of delayed and inefficient delivery of packages during the holiday season, caused by existing limitations in the customs procedure and structure.

To address this, the Senate leader said that Congress must act on the proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization Act which seeks “to institute electronic processing of import and export, simplify the customs procedure for ordinary citizens, and increase the operating flexibility of the Bureau of Customs.”

According to Drilon, a prominent feature of the proposed measure is to overhaul the BoC's processing of export and import products and goods from its current person-to person format to an automated system. The move, he added, will speed up current custom procedures, limit human interface at customs transaction, and foster transparency and accountability.

"Yearly, many Filipinos with loved ones in other countries deal with the cumbersome process of trying to claim gifts or packages which are stuck at the ports, because the BoC personnel could not immediately attend to the inspection, monitoring, and clearance, thus creating a wave of delays,” said Drilon.

“That will be addressed in the bill. More than creating ease for the business industry, the modernization will benefit millions of ordinary Filipinos who suffer from the inefficiencies in the handling of incoming and outgoing goods,” he underscored.

The Senate leader said that the bill will also help eradicate smuggling and other major criminal activities proliferating in the flow of products entering and leaving the country, noting that in 2013 alone, government losses to smuggling operations have cost an estimated P200 billion in revenues.

In an automated system, Drilon said opportunities for smuggling will be minimized: “By upgrading to electronic processing, not only we are able to make the importation and exportation procedures faster and more effective, we are also reducing human intervention, thus thwarting any chance for anyone to strike illegal deals or transactions.”

Drilon added that the proposed measure seeks to simplify the customs procedure for ordinary citizens, so that the average Filipino will not have to worry about being burdened by overly-bureaucratic procedures. It will also complement government’s efforts to decongest ports.

The bill, currently being heard by the Senate in the committee level, is among a package of economic reform measures the upper chamber is determined to pass at the soonest, in light of the nearing establishment of the ASEAN 2015 Economic Community (AEC).

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