Bureau of Customs begins modernization with IT projects
Prinz Magtulis (Philstar.com) - February 4, 2016 - 2:25am

MANILA, Philippines - A string of information technology projects were launched by the Bureau of Customs on Thursday in what it said are initial steps to prepare the agency for the passage of the Customs Modernization Act.

In a statement, Customs said it has started the Infrastructure Optimization Project and the Cyber Security Solution Project and will pilot "in the next few weeks" four other IT initiatives.

"The demand of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) compelled the bureau to develop the capability not only to process data, but in terms of cyber security," Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina was quoted as saying.

The CMTA, the first reform of the country's customs laws in over three decades, is now up for President Aquino's approval after passing the bicameral conference committee last Wednesday.

The bill, once enacted into law, will promote a paperless environment in trade transactions, hence, will require Customs to invest in new IT systems such as the ones unveiled on Thursday.

The Infrastructure Optimization Project, in particular, will serve as a secure platform to authenticate and analyze Customs data to enhance business transactions with the bureau.

The project, Customs said, will focus on ensuring data protection, especially for the private sector, improve client engagement and monitor IT infrastructure regularly to ensure they are working properly.

The Cyber Security Solution Project, meanwhile, aims to bolster the defense of entire IT system against malwares and other cyber attacks that could interfere in business engagement.

It will be undertaken with the Development Bank of the Philippines, the statement read.

"Several services have already been laid down and projects are already in the pipeline for implementation and execution," Lina pointed out.

"All of which are intended to institutionalize transparency, operational and regulatory efficiency and most importantly, law enforcement effectiveness," the Customs chief added.

Aside from the two, four more IT projects are being readied for roll-out.

The Data Center Network Rehabilitation Project will build a better server for Customs to house its growing IT data network, consisting of import, export and client information, among others.

Data transmission will be improved under the Managed Wide Area Network and Internet Connectivity Project. Specifically, it aims to upgrade the agency's bandwidth and Internet connection to handle more data.

Client information, including those of importers and other traders, will also be uploaded in a "cloud" so that they can be accessed anytime, anywhere. This will done through the Cloud-base Engineered Infrastructure Project.

Lastly, the Rivo Operations Management Platform will serve as an information center for Customs rules and procurement processes for cargo handlers and traders. It will also serve as an online help desk and feedback mechanism.

"I can assure everyone more progress on this front as we continue to work through the last remaining months of this administration," Lina said.

Customs, which traditionally accounts for a fifth of state revenues, did not only miss its collection target last year, but also recorded a decrease in revenues.

The agency raised P366.9 billion, down 0.6 percent and was almost 16 percent behind its P436.5-billion target.

BUREAU OF CUSTOMS CUSTOMS CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER ALBERTO LINA CUSTOMS MODERNIZATION ACT CUSTOMS MODERNIZATION AND TARIFF ACT CYBER SECURITY SOLUTION PROJECT DATA DATA CENTER NETWORK REHABILITATION PROJECT DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES PROJECT QUOT
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