US to assist BIR in digital shift

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    The Philippine government is eyeing an $809,450 grant, or about P38.85 million, from the United States (US), with the amount seen to assist the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in its digital transformation program.

    The Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement yesterday President Duterte has authorized the DOF to enter into talks with the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for the possible US grant support.

    Specifically, the DOF said the President has approved its request for a special authority, designating and authorizing any one of its senior officials, undersecretaries Antonette

    Tionko and Mark Dennis Joven, along with BIR deputy commissioner Lanee David, “to negotiate and/or facilitate, in accordance with law, for and on behalf of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH), with the authorized representatives of the USTDA.”

    The special authority covers the negotiations for an agreement on the grant of $809,450 by the USTDA for the BIR’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Modernization Strategy and Data Center Technical Assistance Project, the DOF said.

    Duterte also designated and authorized Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, or Caesar Dulay, BIR commissioner, to conclude, sign, execute and deliver the said grant agreement.

    The DOF said the BIR project aims to modernize the bureau’s infrastructure and operational environment.

    “The project funded by the USTDA grant will ensure an in-depth technical assessment of the BIR’s current ICT environment, the development of an Enterprise Architecture roadmap/framework and an assessment of the organizational framework of the BIR’s Information System Group including recommended restructuring and training programs,” the DOF said.

    Dominguez has cited the BIR’s digital transformation efforts as among the factors that led to a dramatic improvement of its services to taxpayers and its robust collection performance ahead of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic-induced crisis.

    The digital switch has led to the more convenient and efficient electronic filing of tax payments, especially during this pandemic, he said.

    The BIR has also improved the tax forms deployed in the e-BIR Forms System to make the filing of tax returns more accessible and convenient to taxpayers.

    Meanwhile, to enable taxpayers to continue consulting revenue officials on their tax-related concerns even with the mobility restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, the BIR launched its eAppointment Facility last October.

    In November 2020, the BIR likewise launched its web-based Procurement, Payment, Inventory and Monitoring System and its Online Application for Tax Clearance for Bidding Purposes