BUSINESSES in Southern Luzon in the Philippines seeking a level-playing field in the ports business are urging government to end the conflicting roles of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) as regulator, developer and competitor in maritime trade or port services.
The chambers of commerce of the regions south of the metropolis are also asking the Department of Transportation and Communications to privatize the operation and development of ports under the PPA to encourage more investors into the industry.
Members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) from Regions IV-A (Calabarzon), IV-B (Mimaropa) and Bicol called on the DOTC to amend the PPA charter and leave the agency with just the regulatory function.
“An amended PPA charter will signal to investors that they can expect fair competition in developing and operating ports,” said Miguel Varela, PCCI president.
“A level playing field will be an incentive for large infrastructure projects because investors will feel predictability in their operations if the government regulator is not a competing developer of ports at the same time,” Varela explained.
The South Luzon chambers expressed their appeal to the DOTC in a resolution adopted by participants during the 22nd South Luzon Area Business Conference, which started last week. The resolutions adopted at the conference will form part of a broader paper of the Philippine Business Conference scheduled on Oct. 22-24.
The PCCI also urged Malacañang to certify as a priority bill the Customs and Trade Modernization Act as its passage will enable the overhaul of the Bureau of Customs.
Varela told reporters on Wednesday that Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon was unable to carry out his tasks effectively due to certain constraints, which could easily be addressed through the proposed bill.
Varela stressed that Congress should fast-track the passage of the bill so that the modernization and computerization at the BOC could be implemented “immediately” to effect structural changes and reorganization of the agency.
“After [the passage of the bill, Biazon will have] no more excuses,” Varela added.