Despite being head of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for only a few months, Commissioner Alberto Lina on Tuesday vowed to eliminate corruption in one of the most perceived corrupt government agencies, but only if the salaries of 3,000 employees would be increased.
Lina, in a forum at Sofitel Plaza Hotel in Pasay City (Metro Manila), said salaries of his personnel should be like those of employees of government-owned or -controlled corporations or GOCCs so that the temptation to commit “table-to-table transactions” will be stopped.
“The facilitation fee will surely be eliminated. We are losing some P1.5 billion to these table-to-table transactions,” he noted.
Aside from salary increase, full automation of processes will be implemented to eliminate the facilitation fee and reduce the number of signatories to documents.
“We will reduce it to two to three signatures and besides we will put closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) all over the place so employees could not hide,” according to Lina, who was either head of officer of 16 private companies, including a directorship at Philippine Airlines, among others.
He is divesting himself from these firms whose services range from cargo forwarding to waste management.
Aside from eliminating corruption, Lina, who started Air 21 in 1979 with barely P45,000 capitalization, also vowed to deliver the P430-billion collection quota of the bureau.
Lina, 64, who assumed the post af Customs chief only last April, urged lawmakers to pass into law the Customs modernization bill that will make a reality the pay increase and process computerization toward raising productivity and eliminating corruption.
He announced also on Tuesday that congestion at Manila ports is now non-existent.
Lina, however, said he is pushing for the “ship to truck” handling of cargos to avoid containers getting stuck at the ports.
“Cargos may stay at the ports for five days free of charge. What we want is immediately move them to their destinations right away from the time they are brought down from the ship.”
He said the movement of cargos that he called “velocity” is crucial and affects the gross national product and even collection of taxes by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Meanwhile, Lina, who divulged that he learned from President Benigno Aquino 3rd that he was being considered as Customs head only last April 9, has bad news for some 600 casual employees whose positions are now under review. “But for sure, some of them have to go.”
He urged the public to transact business with Customs on Saturdays and Sundays up to the morning of Mondays for discounted and faster release of goods.