10 September 2010

Free ports to adopt e-cargo transfer system

The three adjoining free ports of Subic, Clark and Bataan will start utilizing high technology this month to ensure the fast, safe and secure transfer of cargo to their registered business locators as well as to thwart smuggling and diversion of imported goods.

According to the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD), officials from the three free ports of Central Luzon recently met with SCAD and Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials “to tie loose ends” before the Sept. 16 implementation of the Enhanced Automated Cargo Transfer System (e-Acts), which is touted to improve the country’s import shipments system.

The free ports summit was attended by officials of the SCAD and the BOC, and representatives of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (Afab).

“All concerned agencies vowed to exert greater efforts in responding to the call of President Benigno S. Aquino for a better business environment and a more favorable investment climate in the Philippines that will lead to a better way of life for Filipinos,” the SCAD said in a statement.

The e-Acts was designed to provide for a more efficient movement of imports from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port Terminal to the various export producers located in Subic, Clark and Bataan free ports.

The new system reportedly stands out compared to previous systems because it utilizes modern technology to provide a faster, more economical and simpler process of documenting and processing of clearances, as well as the transfer and admission of foreign merchandise from ports of discharge.

And because e-Acts substitutes electronic or Internet protocols for face-to-face transactions, it is expected to help stamp out corruption in import transactions and to cut overhead costs among free-port locators by allowing the immediate delivery and use of transit goods.

With its built-in antismuggling or antidiversion feature, e-Acts will serve as a showcase of the BOC’s “intention and commitment to put a stop to the abuse of the importation privilege of some unscrupulous free-port zone export producers,” said Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez.

Speaking for the free ports, Afab chairman and administrator Deogracias Custodio said the implementation of the e-Acts “will be a reflection of the constant efforts of the Philippine free ports to improve the level of services that they offer to their locators in order to become the free ports of choice in the world.”

SCAD chairman Nestor Mangio expressed optimism that the new system would create a better business environment in Clark and Subic that would, in turn, result in more investments and more jobs for local residents.

“Needed revenues to fuel the local economy will increase. Entrepreneurship potentials for local suppliers will be developed. Even local tourism will be favorably affected,” Mangio added.

The implementation of the e-Acts will be the latest in a series of cooperation programs between the BOC and the free ports in Central Luzon to curb smuggling and plug revenue leaks from goods imported into the free ports and later sold outside the special economic zones.

On July 15 the SBMA and the BOC began using the electronic Gatepass Management System (GMS) for shipments brought into the Subic Bay Free Port to ensure that only “legal goods” would exit the gates here.

Like the e-Acts system, the GMS was designed to make it even harder for smugglers to use the port of Subic, as well as to reduce the time and cost of doing business in this free port. (Henry EmpeƱo, Business Mirror)