BIR, BOC to curb corruption through digitalization

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) are ramping up their respective anti-corruption campaigns by modernizing their operations through digitalization.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno identified digitalization as the key in transforming and eradicating corruption within the government’s two main revenue agencies.

“I think, to be fair with both agencies, they have done a lot [of digitalization] already during the past administration. What we can promise is, we’ll do even better,” said Secretary Diokno on Tuesday (August 16) at an organizational briefing before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The Digital Transformation (DX) Program of the BIR aims to transform the Bureau into a data-driven organization through a digitally-empowered workforce capable of harnessing digital technologies to improve BIR services and enhance taxpayer experience.

In 2021, 93 percent of returns were filed electronically, and taxpayers were offered more convenient ways to pay taxes as BIR services were made available 24/7.

Aside from digital transformation, BIR Commissioner Lilia Guillermo is also pushing for moral transformation within the organization through value-formation courses.

Over at the BOC, Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco noted that Customs was one of the first government agencies to implement paperless transactions.

The World Bank (WB) is currently supporting the digitalization of the BOC through a USD 88.28 million financing for the Philippine Customs Modernization Program. The project focuses on transitioning from a largely manual and paper-based organization to a modernized BOC, achieving global standards and full modernization by 2024.

Deputy Commissioner Dy Buco told senators that 91.18 percent or 155 out of 170 customs processes are already automated.

On March 1, 2022, the BOC, in coordination with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), also completed a national action plan for cross-border paperless trade.

In addition, the BOC has enrolled in various integrity enhancement and moral transformation programs, according to Deputy Commissioner Dy Buco.

In its intensified campaign against corruption, the BOC has transferred 3,855 employees, served show-cause orders to 1,407 personnel, filed 183 administrative cases, transmitted 164 complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman, relieved 192 employees, and dismissed 24 from the service.

With their extensive digitalization programs under the previous administration, the BIR and BOC were able to sustain their operations throughout the pandemic and even exceeded their collection targets. The BIR, for instance, generated a total of P2.1 trillion in 2021, which is P5.1 billion higher than its target for the year.

In the same year, the BOC collected P643.56 billion, or 104.3 percent of its target P616.75 billion collection.

Commissioner Guillermo urged the public to cooperate with the government by migrating to digital channels for their transactions with the government.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Dy Buco assured the senators that contactless transactions are possible. He also invited the senators to visit the BOC office to see how the agency modernized its operations.