The Philippines may tap New Zealand’s expertise in modernizing the processes and services to of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Social Security System (SSS) to better serve the public.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and New Zealand Ambassador to Manila, Peter Kell have discussed possible bilateral cooperation arrangements on the matter.
At a recent virtual meeting with Dominguez, Kell said New Zealand can get involved in the ongoing BOC modernization project as a consultant and advisor. They can also provide training and the services of their experts to assist the BOC in capacity building and modernizing its trade facilitation and border protection functions.
Kell said New Zealand is also finalizing the financing component of a project with the SSS to redesign the processing of social security pensions and other benefits, aimed at improving the approval system and procedures for SSS members applying for claims.
Dominguez has expressed his deep appreciation for New Zealand’s offer of assistance and assured Kell his and his department’s support for both initiatives.
Kell also thanked Dominguez for the DOF’s assistance to the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in the preparation of a project proposal on establishing the DAP’s competency framework.
This DAP project will be implemented with technical assistance from New Zealand.
Kell also informed Dominguez of the significant progress made in the discussions between New Zealand and Philippine officials on a project that will continue New Zealand’s support to Mindanao’s agriculture sector and agribusiness enterprises.
The ambassador said he looks forward to working closely with the Philippines as New Zealand this year hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, which are expected to focus on discussions on how to overcome the global economic impact of the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.
In partnership with the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM), New Zealand has extended about P64.25 million in assistance to support the Philippine government’s Covid-19 response, particularly in providing assistance to vulnerable communities in Mindanao.
New Zealand and the IOM have also donated 35 cold storage units necessary for the efficient delivery and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the New Zealand government has also continued to assist Mindanao’s agriculture sector with a US$2.69 million project to support agriculture-based livelihoods and agribusiness enterprises in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.