The World Bank-funded modernization project of the Bureau of Customs will align the agency’s processes and standards with the world’s best and most efficient customs services, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Friday, March 26, that Customs modernization funded by the Washington-based lender is a major step toward fulfilling the Duterte administration’s goal to upgrading the bureau’ services.
Dominguez said the project is timely as COVID-19 has magnified the importance of modernizing systems to be able to thrive in the new digital economy, and of raising more revenues to finance the government’s pandemic response and economic recovery program.
The finance chief thanked the World Bank for providing the financing for the $104.38-million Customs modernization project, which underscores the institution’s “support in modernizing our governance and enhancing our capacity for growth.”
Dominguez assured the bank that the reforms to be instituted in the Customs through the modernization project will be “fully functional and irreversible.”
“When this project is done, we expect to see more efficient port operations, dramatic gains in reducing corruption in the agency, and a major increase in our trade volumes,” said Dominguez in his message during the virtual launch of the Philippine Customs Modernization Project.
The World Bank was represented at the event by Ndiamé Diop, its Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Dominguez said “the project will allow us to be at the cutting edge in the application of new technologies to achieve the best revenue performance. All these will support the sustainable and long term growth of our economy.”
He described the project launch as a “momentous day” for the bureau, as this modernization initiative will reform the way the bureau operates and transform it into a “world-class agency” by streamlining and upgrading its systems and processes through information and communications technology (ICT).
Dominguez said a highly efficient Customs “is critical to help the country recover strongly from the pandemic and build back the best possible future for our people.”
To ensure the success of the modernization project, Dominguez said a Steering Committee will be created to support its implementation and ensure the cooperation of the various agencies and other stakeholders. Dominguez said that with the cooperation of all stakeholders involved and the support of the WB, he expects the project to be partially implemented by 2023 and to commence full operation by 2024.