Aside from revenue generation, the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) performs other equally pivotal roles in the Philippines’ economic development, making it imperative that the agency modernizes and innovates in order to effectively carry out its tasks, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Dominguez said that besides collecting fees and taxes, the BOC must also facilitate trade, fight smuggling, and bar the entry of illegal drugs and terrorists through the country’s borders.
To do all these, it needs to fully modernize its systems and processes and transform itself into “a truly modern bureaucratic organization,” he added.
“The role of the Bureau of Customs is more than just improving revenue collection to provide government the wherewithal to fund public investments. We expect the Bureau to continuously improve its procedures and processes to facilitate trade. This is important in building an investments-led growth that will produce employment opportunities for our people,” Dominguez said during BOC’s recent Command Conference meeting.
Together with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the customs agency is one of the two primary revenue tools that support the government’s growth strategy anchored on massive public investments in infrastructure, human capital and social protection for the poor and other vulnerable sectors.
This ambitious spending plan will require immense revenue inflows, on top of the official development assistance the government expects from other countries in the medium term, Dominguez said.
He added that agencies like BOC and BIR do not actually collect for the government, but “for the people of the Philippines,” with the state only allocating how the taxes and duties it collects would be spent.
“So when people are cheating and not paying their right taxes or duties, they are not cheating the government, they are cheating the Filipino people. So you are the guardians of that. You should keep that in mind, that these funds don’t belong to the government, they belong to the Filipino people. We are just entrusted to collect it and to allocate it… You are collecting on behalf of the Filipino people,” Dominguez told BOC officials and employees.
The BOC reported a collection of P104.9 billion in taxes in the first quarter of 2017, exceeding the P104.28 billion target for the period. It expects to collect P468 billion this year, up from the 2016 level of P396.37 billion.
Dominguez said he BOC is also expected to protect Filipinos from the entry of illegal drugs, substandard products, and other harmful commodities.
“The Bureau occupies a primary place in our border security. Porous borders are the delight of all sorts of menacing elements: smugglers, drug traffickers, gunrunners, terrorists and the like,” Dominguez said.
He pointed out that smuggling, besides denying the government the potential revenues it deserves, also leaves the country open to the flow of illegal drugs and makes its borders defenseless against terrorists.
“In order to meet the many expectations placed upon the Bureau, we need a truly modern bureaucratic organization. It is one that summons the powers of new information technology not only to speed up processing but also to properly monitor pricing. Innovating our organization is an endless but fruitful pursuit. I hope you will be up to the task of constant innovation with a passion,” the finance chief said.