MANILA, Philippines—A Dubai-based firm has won the Bureau of Customs bidding for the agency’s much delayed P418-million computerization program.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon made the disclosure on Wednesday, confirming that he signed the Notice of Award on June 3 to the winning bidder, JV Webb Fontaine Group FZ-LLC.
The awards notice was addressed to Ara Shamirzayan, JV Webb Fontaine Group FZ-LLC representative, and their local partner Global Resource for Outsourced Workers, or GROW.
The incorporators of GROW include Monico Jacob, Eusebio Tanco, Joel Ferrer, Jose Buenaventura and Rufus Rodriguez, among others.
Biazon said the integrated computer system will improve the agency’s clearance and inventory system, and boost their capacity to fight smuggling.
In a text message, Biazon said the recommendation by the Customs Special Bids and Awards Committee (to award the project to JV Webb Fontaine) was submitted to him on May 10, 2013.”
“But I requested additional information on matters concerning the bid. It took the [committee] some time to submit them and for me to review the winning bid,” said Biazon.
In his letter to Shamirzayan, Biazon said: “We are pleased to notify you that your bid, dated 22nd March 2013, re: the Development and Implementation of the Integrated Philippine (Computer) System Project for the total contract price of P418,032,496.98 in accordance with the instructions to bidders is hereby accepted.”
“You are hereby required to provide within 10 days the performance security in the form and amount stipulated in the instructions to bidders. Failure to provide the performance security shall constitute sufficient ground for cancellation of the award and forfeiture of the bid security,” he added.
Shamirzayan acknowledged receipt of the BOC document on June 7.
Front for Customs execs?
At the BOC, some agency old timers have alleged that the winning bidder was fronting for a group of former Customs officials.
At a recent Customs Kapihan media forum, Biazon responded to criticism of the bidding by saying: “At this point, it’s really up to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Procurement Service to act on that issue.”
“The head of procurement should answer that. They’re the ones who processed the papers and evaluated the documents. The bidding papers are with the DBM Procurement Service,” he added.
In December, Biazon lamented that the bureau was plagued by the “recurring problem of computer network slowdown and downtime,” adversely affecting the agency’s operations.
But he expressed confidence the situation would improve this year with the computerization project, which aims to overhaul the BOC’s existing information technology network.
According to Biazon, “the program budget will cover, among others, the upgrade of the current Customs clearance system, petroleum inventory system and the online X-ray inspection system.”
“It also aims to integrate the Customs monitoring systems and improve capabilities to plug loopholes in the process, thereby enhancing trade security and facilitation, as well as revenue collection,” he said.
Aside from enhancing the bureau’s efficiency in revenue collection, the computer system is “also expected to help boost the BOC’s antismuggling campaign,” he added.