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Container deposit refund system goes live

  • Importers and customs brokers can now register with an online system that simplifies and speeds up container deposit refund
  • The Container Ledger Account went live for pilot-testing on December 1
  • CLA fee is being waived for the whole month of December

Importers and customs brokers can now register with the Container Ledger Account (CLA), an online system that aims to simplify and speed up container deposit refund.

CLA went live for pilot-testing on December 1. It already has several non-vessel operating common carriers, customs brokers and consignees as subscribers, Mahendrarajah Selvaraja (Mahen), president and chief executive officer of Malaysia-based D&D Control (M) SdnBhd, told PortCalls in an email.

The Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) earlier tapped D&D to offer an alternative solution to the long-standing issue of return of container deposits.

READ: AISL offers system for faster container deposit refund

Mahen said they are hoping all shipping lines operating in the Philippines will subscribe to the system and join the pilot-testing this month. Upon request, he said they can provide demonstration or training to any AISL member, group or individual.

The CLA fee is waived for the whole month of December.

CLA has been in place since 2018 in Malaysia, which previously also had problems with return of container deposits. CLA users in Malaysia include 44 shipping lines and almost 2,000 consignees and customs brokers in 14 ports. Several of those shipping lines and shipping agents operate in the Philippines.

D&D has a patent on the CLA product in Malaysia. In the Philippines, it has set up Container Ledger Account Phils., Inc. and is applying for a patent here.

In an earlier virtual presentation to various industry organizations, Mahen said CLA will eliminate the administrative burden of shippers who have to prepare various documents in order to refund their container deposits from various shipping lines.

The system can also improve the cash flow of users since they will only need to deal with one party and won’t have to post container deposits for every shipping line they use. Through CLA, users can provide the container deposit or a security amount for use with all their containers regardless of the shipping line.

To use the CLA, importers, freight forwarders, and customs brokers may register on the CLA platform  (www.clap.ph) and choose between two options: deposit ledger and cash ledger.

With the deposit ledger, users will deposit an amount depending on their TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) volumes and this amount will be refunded though the CLA upon request.

Once the empty container is returned to the depot, the stakeholder can already request for a refund through CLA, which will immediately inform the shipping line to release the deposit, and which will then be refunded to the stakeholder also through CLA.

For the cash ledger, the user will no longer have to post a container deposit but will have to provide a security amount depending on the user’s monthly TEU volumes:

  • Below 10 TEUs – P75,000
  • 11-50 TEUs – P150,000
  • 51-100 TEUs – P250,000
  • More than 100 TEUs – P350,000

Another option implemented in Malaysia which may also apply in the Philippines is the CLA Credit, available for VIPs of shipping lines and users with high container volumes.

Mahen said they can sit down with industry associations to discuss the suggestion to allow an association to provide a guarantee so members won’t have to provide a deposit or security individually.

Fees for the use of CLA are P200 per TEU for the deposit ledger, and P100 per TEU for the cash ledger.

The return of container deposits is one of the long-standing issues in the industry and has been the subject of various discussions. The government earlier tried to address the issue through a joint administrative order on local charges imposed by international shipping lines, but the order did not materialize. A bill in the Lower House aims to regulate the charges of international shipping lines, including container deposits. – Roumina Pablo


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