Home » Breaking News, Maritime, Ports/Terminals » PH cargo throughput up slightly in Jan-May

Total throughput reached 98.89 million metric tons (mmt) for the first five months of the year compared to the 98.46 mmt handled in the same period last year.

Cargo volume handled by Philippine ports in the first five months of the year grew slightly by 0.44% due to high domestic consumption and a positive business climate nationwide, according to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

Total throughput reached 98.89 million metric tons (mmt) for the first five months of the year compared to the 98.46 mmt handled in the same period last year, PPA said in a statement.

Of the total, domestic cargo went up almost 4% to 42.36 mmt, while foreign cargo decreased 1.85% to 56.524 mmt. Imports rose 4% to 37.99 mmt, while exports declined 12.12% to 18.52 mmt.

For container throughput, volume soared 8.6% to 3.02 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from January to May 2018 as against the 2.78 million TEUs in the same period in 2017.

Of the total, domestic boxes registered an increase of 9.4% to 1.23 million TEUs compared to the 1.12 million TEUs handled last year, while foreign boxes jumped 8% to 1.79 million TEUs from 1.65 million TEUs.

Passenger volume continued to expand, increasing 9.3% to 36.76 million during the five-month period versus 33.63 million year-on-year. The expansion is due to the sea-traveling public growing more reliant on roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels, fastcraft, and motorized bancas for inter-island travel, particularly at the ports of Bohol, Masbate, Mindoro, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Negros Occidental, and Bacolod.

PPA said the positive stream in passenger traffic is also due to the favorable response of the public to the government’s domestic eco-tourism programs encouraging inter-island leisure travel through Ro-Ro vessels.

The port authority said the international cruise tourism industry has also positively contributed to the overall passage traffic performance, as international cruise passenger numbers rose by more than 184.76% from a mere 43,820 international cruise passengers last year to 124,779 passengers this year.

Currently, cruise ships are concentrated at the ports of Manila, Panay/Guimaras, Batangas, and Palawan.

Fewer earnings, higher expenditures

PPA, meanwhile, registered a lower net income in the first five months of the year as its expenses soared due to infrastructure projects.

Net income for the period declined 3.24% to P3.83 billion from P3.96 billion in the same period last year. Revenues, on the other hand, went up 13% to P6.84 billion from P6.04 billion in the same period last year.

Expenses went up 44% to P3.01 billion from P2.08 billion in 2017 primarily due to the huge infrastructure spending, particularly for repair and maintenance and land improvements, whose costs increased by more to 139%.

PPA earlier said it is accelerating its port infrastructure projects after strong port revenues in the first three months of the year.

The agency said that despite its huge financial requirements, it remains “very liquid and financially stable with a net worth of P187.57 billion.”

This year, the PPA is optimistic it can hit its target gross income of P16.18 billion as some of its port development projects are set to go online in 2018 to accommodate the demands of increasing economic activity.

As for its 2017 earnings, PPA reported a P4.966 billion net income last year, or 6% higher than the P4.699 billion it earned in 2016, driven by robust shipping and trade on account of strong domestic consumption and accelerated public sector investment.

Thus, the port authority remitted P3 billion in dividends to the national coffers for 2017, its highest contribution since 1986.

The state-owned agency’s dividend for 2017 also eclipsed by at least 30% all the dividends it remitted to the government at least in the last decade, including its erstwhile record of P2.158 billion remitted in 2015.

PPA is mandated to remit 50% of its annual net income to the national coffers after it was granted fiscal autonomy during the term of the late President Corazon Aquino.

For years, PPA has been a regular member of the “billionaires’ club” of government- owned and controlled corporations, contributing billions of pesos in dividends to the treasury.

Relatedly, PPA said there is currently no sign of port congestion in any of the country’s major gateway ports, particularly the Manila terminals, as productivity remains stable, with a combined average productivity of 23 moves an hour. On yard utilization, the average is 60% while berth occupancy rate at the three Manila terminals is 59%. – Roumina Pablo

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