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PHL, NZ explore deal to improve BOC, SSS

THE Philippine and New Zealand governments are now in talks for a possible bilateral cooperation to improve Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Social Security System (SSS), according to the Department of Finance (DOF).

In a statement, the DOF said the New Zealand government may be involved in the ongoing BOC modernization project as a consultant and advisor.

Kell was quoted by the DOF as saying that New Zealand can also provide training and the services of its experts to assist the BOC in capacity building and modernizing its trade facilitation and border protection functions.

“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, which aims to improve the approval system and procedures for SSS members applying for these claims,” the DOF statement said.

Kell was quoted as saying that the New Zealand government is also involved in establishing the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) competency framework. The project is being implemented with technical assistance from Auckland.

He was said to have also informed the DOF of the progress made in the discussions for a project that will continue New Zealand’s support to Mindanao’s agriculture sector and agribusiness enterprises.

Kell also said he looks forward to working closely with the Philippines as New Zealand hosts this year the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation  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), the New Zealand government has extended about P64.25 million in assistance to support the Philippine government’s response against Covid-19, 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.

Through the United Nations’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the New Zealand government has likewise continued to assist Mindanao’s agriculture sector with a $2.69 million project to support agriculture-based livelihoods and agribusiness enterprises in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

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