In order to fully computerize and root out corruption, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Ruffy Biazon has proposed for the abolition of the agency and its replacement with a professional institution run by private officials and employees.
In an interview, Biazon said privatizing the BOC and putting in a fully electronic system will eliminate the deep-seated problem on corruption that has plagued the agency and robbed the government of billions in revenues.
?By computerizing the entire system, we can eliminate the interaction between the importers and the BOC personnel. That way, we can get rid of corruption,? Biazon told former Senator Joey Lina in a radio show.
Biazon said a privately-run institution will be in a better position to implement the modernization initiative as the old employees at the bureau would surely resist the modernization effort.
The BOC is currently in the early stages of implementation of the National Single Window project and electronic-to-mobile or E2M system, which are part of the country?s commitment for the Asean integration program.
A lawmaker, however, said that while the privatization and computerization of the BOC is a good proposal, it will still need the nod of Congress.
“It is a good proposal but must still undergo scrutiny through the legislative process,” Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab said in a statement.
Ungab said he himself supports the anti-corruption campaign at the BOC and the modernization of the agency.
He said the government has to be realistic now with the advent of free trade and tariff incentives. “WTO and AFTA must be taken seriously into consideration as well as the utilization of modern electronic technology.”
The lawmaker said computerization must be fast-tracked since this is the recurring question every BOC budget hearing. “I agree that lesser interaction with the importer and customs officials also decreases the probability of corruption,” said Ungab.
Earlier, Biazon said he had initial talks with President Aquino about the ultimate solution to smuggling and corruption in the BOC. Biazon said corruption is deeply embedded in the BOC?s culture and system so dismissing a few people or catching some smugglers will not totally eradicate the corruption problem.
He said the solution is to completely automate the system that will stop direct dealings between customs employees and importers.
Under the proposal being mulled by the Aquino administration, Biazon said the private institution that will replace the BOC will retain three percent of its tax and duty collections to fund its operations and be self-sustaining.