MANILA - Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro on Tuesday filed a bill seeking to abolish the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and replace it with a corporate entity that could outsource some functions to the private sector.
The Customs bureau had been at the heart of legislative inquiries in both houses of Congress after a P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China slipped past the port of Manila in May 2017.
House Bill No. 7126 seeks to create a Customs Development Authority (CDA) which would be empowered to outsource some functions.
“It has been reported that corruption at the Bureau of Customs has become a malady without a cure. Corruption seems to have been part of the bureau’s culture. Surveys on the most bureaucratic and corrupt government offices have consistently placed the Bureau of Customs at the top,” Castro said in his explanatory note.
“Under this measure, the Customs Development Authority will be allowed to outsource or privatize some administrative functions of the Authority, subject to some terms and conditions to curtail customs bureaucracy and corruption. This measure also intends to promote competition and encourage private participation in customs operations,” the proposal read.
The proposed CDA will have the power to assess and collect customs revenues from imported goods and other dues, fees, charges, fines and penalties under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
It is also mandated to simplify and harmonize customs procedures to facilitate movement of goods in international trade; prevent entry of smuggled goods through border control; prevent and suppress smuggling and other customs fraud, among others.
The CDA shall have corporate powers which shall be exercised by a Board of Directors with the Finance Secretary as chair, the General manager as vice-chairperson, and the following members: the commissioner of Internal Revenue, the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, the secretaries of trade, public works and environment, and a private sector representative who shall have a term of 3 years.
The General Manager (GM) shall manage the day to day affairs of the CDA.
Subject to the approval of the Secretary of Finance, the authority may engage the services of a private entity or corporation to perform specific customs operations and services. The GM is authorized to call for bids in open public competition from prospective investors for this purpose.
The CDA shall also have a border control, compliance and law enforcement department which will be in charge of customs law enforcement and border and trade security.