THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved on Friday the P5.45-billion Philippine Customs Modernization Project to streamline and improve Customs’ revenue-collecting capacity.

In a press conference on Friday following the ICC-CabCom’s meeting earlier in the day, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said P4.6 billion or 84.5% of the total project cost is proposed for funding through official development assistance (ODA) in one of multilateral lenders.

“This is a revenue-collection infrastructure project that aims to improve the bureau’s (Bureau of Customs) efficiency and transparency by streamlining and upgrading its systems and procedures through the use of information and communications technology (ICT),” told reporters Friday afternoon.

Earlier, a World Bank document showed the lender is proposing to fund $82 million of the Customs Modernization project, scheduled its board’s approval on July 7. Meanwhile, the remaining $15.82 million will be shouldered by the government.

The Washington-based lender said the $82 million will be sourced either through its lending arm International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or International Development Association (IDA).

It attributed the Customs bureau’s “poor” performance on trade facilitation to “outdated infrastructure and inadequate business practices.”

The proposed project is expected to improve Customs’ efficiency and further lower trade costs.

“The project will support the modernization of the BoC by investing in modern ICT systems and installing ICT equipment (e.g. computers, servers) around the country (locations are not yet known),” the document posted early last month read.

Aside from one approved project, Mr. Dominguez said the committee also discussed the status of other projects and those that were already approved by the NEDA.

He also said all of the 100 projects under the administration’s infrastructure flagship program will be started within their term, while around half will be completed by 2022.

“This provides a very robust pipeline of projects amounting to roughly P2.3 trillion for the succeeding administration, compared with only 14 projects worth about P230 billion that were ready for implementation when the Duterte administration took over in July of 2016,” he said.

So far, he said, a total of 87 projects worth P3.774 trillion have gotten final approval since the start of administration.

“We have identified the bottlenecks on the ongoing implementation of ODA and locally-funded infrastructure projects and explored ways and measures on how to address or eliminate these to accelerate their execution,” Mr. Dominguez said.

“The Duterte administration will continue to ensure all infrastructure projects are implemented on time and on budget. The ongoing implementation of the majority of these projects will provide the economy the impetus it needs to offset the challenges that could dampen growth this year,” the Finance department said in a statement. — Beatrice M. Laforga