Philippine vessel owners and operators are upbeat over the Maritime Industry Authority’s new ship registration system that drastically shortens processing time for vessel import application and for authority to operate them.
The Marina’s newly launched Enhanced Special Processing Window Express Lane (E-SPWEL) cuts the processing time for such applications from 52 working days previously to just nine, enabling operators to potentially save P30 million per vessel.
A World Bank-International Finance Corp. study said that while a vessel is waiting idle for authority to operate, the shipping company loses P700,000 daily in direct cost and lost opportunities, or about P30 million per ship.
“We want to make it easy for companies to invest in the domestic shipping industry,” Marina administrator Dr. Maximo Q. Mejia said in his speech at the launch of the pilot testing of E-SPWEL.
The E-SPWEL is a two-stage simultaneous processing of applications for vessel acquisition (through importation and charter) and authority to operate in the domestic trade.
Pilot testing of the new system began on Feb.17 and will last until July 31. No additional fees will be imposed.
If successful, the system will be rolled out to other Marina offices and be institutionalized.
“We intend to usher in a better business climate and to improve transparency in public service in the maritime industry in general,” Mejia said.
PISA officer-in-charge and executive director Atty. Pedro Aguilar pointed out that E-SPWEL does not address delays in document processing on the part of other government agencies like the Bureau of Customs.
Applications pending before the Feb. 17-July 30 pilot testing period will not be covered by the E-SPWEL, Mejia said.
As of Feb. 11, no application falling under E-SPWEL had been filed in Marina.
The Philippine RORO (Roll-on/Roll off) Operators Association (PROA) and the Philippine Interisland Shipping Association (PISA) welcomed the new development.
PROA president Christopher Pastrana said the E-SPWEL is a “big step” towards achieving global competitiveness and also supports the organization’s objective of modernizing the roro industry “because it encourages new boats to come in, brand-new vessels and [gives] the industry a better option for newer and better vessels.”
“In other countries, you can do this in one day. There’s even a country that can deliver to you [your document] in 48 hours anywhere in the world,” Pastrana said, citing a recent experience when they waited for 47 days for Marina to process the documents of a brand new ship.
Also the founder off Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp., Pastrana said in line with the roro modernization project, operators plan to take delivery of 10 new vessels this year.
Two of the vessels have already been deployed in Calapan and Batangas, he said. Each vessel costs US$8.3 million and the acquisition was made possible through a loan from Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The new vessels, designed by an Australian ship design company, will be servicing the country’s eastern and western seaboards, as well as Mindoro and Palawan. ––Roumina Pablo
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