Byline: melvin g. calimag
The Bureau of Customs (BoC), with its tainted image as a haven for graft and corrupt officials, may be the most unlikely model for transparency in government.
But its soon-to-be-finished computerization initiative is slowly ushering transformation within the bureau, and is significant enough for the agency to be named as the head of a regional project dubbed "ASEAN Single Window."
During a recent forum on e-government readiness sponsored by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology-National Computer Center (CICT-NCC), Deputy Customs Commissioner Alex Arevalo said the agencys P1.3 billion ASYCUDA (Automated System for Custom Data) project would be completed in the next couple of months and is expected to cut the processing time of cargoes significantly.
The completion of the automation project would also mean that the Philippines, through the BoC, will be ready to facilitate the establishment of the ASEAN Single Window initiative as head of the interagency task force created by ASEAN economic ministers during an informal meeting held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in January 2004.
The ASEAN Single Window concept aims to ensure the expeditious clearance of imports through single submission of data, single data processing, and single decision-making for the release of goods. The single window approach is part of an action plan to establish an e-Customs platform across the ASEAN region.
Arevalo said an executive order is expected to be issued in the next two weeks by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordering trade-related agencies to use a uniform set of documents that can be integrated in the ASEAN system.
The task force headed by Arevalo is eyeing to launch a pilot program of the ASEAN Single Window by September and full implementation by next …