ACTOO renews calls for revocation of container monitoring policy

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The Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations claimed over 300 industry stakeholders participated in the two-hour prayer rally against implementation of PPA’s Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry Monitoring System on May 17. Photo from ACTOO.
  • The Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations renewed calls to revoke the Philippine Ports Authority policy on container registry and monitoring system
  • The group said the policy will derail the country’s economic recovery efforts
  • ACTOO, together with the Practicing Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines, Inc. and representatives from other industry groups, staged a prayer rally in front of PPA’s head office in Port Area, Manila on May 17
  • ACTOO said over 300 industry stakeholders participated in the two-hour prayer rally

The Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations (ACTOO) renewed calls to revoke the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) policy on container registry and monitoring system, saying it will derail the country’s economic recovery efforts.

ACTOO, together with the Practicing Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines, Inc. and representatives from other industry groups, staged a prayer rally in front of PPA’s head office in Port Area, Manila on May 17 to reiterate their call to revoke PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 04-2021.

In a statement, ACTOO claimed over 300 industry stakeholders participated in the two-hour prayer rally against implementation of PPA’s Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS).

Under PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 04-2021, foreign containers are required to register to TOP-CRMS and to secure a container insurance policy.

TOP-CRMS is PPA’s proposed electronic system to register and monitor the movement of foreign containers entering and leaving PPA ports. PPA earlier said TOP-CRMS is the solution that they have come up with to address the long-standing issue on the return of container deposits imposed by foreign shipping lines, as well as to manage the return of foreign empty containers. The ports authority also claims the system will help address port congestion and aid the Bureau of Customs’ anti-smuggling efforts.

Implementation of TOP-CRMS is currently deferred by the PPA Board following opposition for various stakeholders. Transportation secretary Jaime Bautista, who chairs the PPA Board, earlier said government agencies that are members of PPA’s Board, as well as other concerned agencies they were “not very clear on what will be the benefits that’s why the board decided to defer it.” Bautista said the system will again be up for review.

ACTOO reiterated earlier points it made, together with 16 other business and industry organizations, in a letter sent to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. earlier this year asking him to intervene and revoke PPA AO 04-2021 and TOP-CRMS.

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ACTOO noted that AO 04-2021 runs counter to the national directive of reducing logistics costs and streamlining processes. Citing their letter to Marcos, ACTOO said they estimate that the direct financial cost alone from the additional insurance fees, transaction fees, and trucking fees required by TOP-CRMS will result in an almost 50% increase in the cost of importing goods or in real terms a staggering additional annual import cost estimated to be at least P35 billion.

Under the proposed implementing operational guidelines (IOG) of AO 04-2021, forwarders, customs brokers, importers, and consignees should secure container insurance in the amount of P980 plus value-added tax (VAT) per container through TOP-CRMS as a requirement for container discharge. The container insurance is supposed to be in lieu of the container deposit.

The container insurance will no longer be required in cases where container deposit is not being required by the shipping lines or container owner. Registration to TOP-CRMS will still be required and it entails a container registry and monitoring fee of P730, exclusive of VAT, per container.

The group also claims AO 04-2021 hinders the free market activity in the industry and hampers the fast and efficient flow of commodities from the ports to the public.

With the required accreditation and enrollment to the TOP-CRMS system, ACTOO said transactions among private entities—who are already subject to various regulatory policies—in the industry are bound to be centrally controlled by an agency that has no jurisdiction over such transactions.

Moreover, ACTOO said AO 04-2021 violates the Philippine Competition Act with its proposed requirement, under the proposed implementing operational guidelines (IOG), on the use of a container staging facility that is accredited and authorized by PPA for all empty foreign containers for re-export.

The group said the practice of mutually identifying container yards most apt for each transaction, inter-sectoral negotiation and agreement on this particular business aspect would be curtailed with this requirement.

“These points support the organization’s argument that the implementation of the new container monitoring system and its related costs—including additional insurance, transaction and trucking fees—are set to negatively impact the country’s economy,” ACTOO stated.

PPA general manager Jay Dnaiel Santiago earlier denied TOP-CRMS will add to the bureaucracy, saying truckers will not need to submit additional documents and that manual intervention by the system is limited and only requires truck drivers to input information to a tablet provided by PPA during deliveries.

“The PPA’s new monitoring system is an attempt to monopolize businesses at the ports and a duplication of several systems already in place in the industry. It seeks to restructure the entire working dynamics of the truckers with their business partners endangering the sector’s entire existence. Forcing TOP-CRMS into the industry will derail the country’s steady recovery from the adverse economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, this policy will burden the public.” said Rina Papa, ACTOO vice president for external affairs.