SENATOR Grace Poe pressed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) the fast-track the automation of its processes to curb corruption and lessen human-to-human contact that could spread the Covid 19.
Poe inquired about the P6-billion automation project of the bureau that is supposedly designed to combat technical smuggling.
“Sa ngayon, sa gitna ng pandemya, kinakailangan ng gobyerno na makakuha ng karagdagang pondo para sa paglaban natin sa COVID-19 at gayundin sa pagbangon ng ating ekonomiya. ‘Yung nawawala sa atin sa koleksiyon ay malaking tulong sana sa ating mga kababayan lalo na sa panahong ito,” Poe explained.
“The BOC has been losing billions for years from technical smuggling, and one of the solutions pointed out at the last DBCC hearing was to fully automate its system and eliminate human intervention,” she added.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III mentioned in the last briefing that automation efforts in the BOC have encountered many challenges including lawsuits that slowed down the project.
Poe pointed out that in 2019, the BOC failed to meet its collection target by P30.73 billion.
“This may be a mere five percent of the total collection target by the bureau, but P30 billion is still a considerable amount especially as we battle with the pandemic and struggle to help the most affected sectors,” she said.
Technical smuggling refers to the “undervaluation, underdeclaration of the volume shipped, misclassification, and diversion of cargo.” Unscrupulous importers in turn need the collusion of Customs officials to pull off their crime that deprives the government of billions in tax revenues.
“I hope this digitization will be completed promptly to ensure transparency and improve collection. Such will redound to better services for our people,” Poe said.