The Philippine Ship Agents Association (PSAA) is requesting the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to set a limit of 24 hours to approve the activation of principals/tramp operators under the agency’s Client Profile Registration System (CPRS) to avoid delays in the processing of non-containerized shipments.
In a follow-up letter to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero dated January 14, PSAA president Arnel San Diego said member ship agents have been experiencing delays for months now due to the long time BOC takes to approve the CPRS of agent’s principals/tramp operators.
In a previous letter to Guerrero dated January 4, San Diego said that according to BOC’s Account Management Office (AMO), the delay results from a BOC policy that requires all CPRS applications to be concurred first by the Intelligence Group (IG) deputy commissioner and approved by the Office of the Commissioner (OCOM).
Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) NO. 23-2018 dated November 26, 2018 orders AMO to seek OCOM approval on the renewal, registration, reapplication, reinstatement, suspension (with lifting of suspension), and revocation or cancellation of accreditation.
CMO No. 28-2018, dated December 6 and signed December 10, meanwhile, requires that all new applications for accreditation filed by importers and customs brokers must be submitted by AMO, duly concurred with by the deputy commissioner for IG, to the customs commissioner for approval or disapproval.
These applications pertain to the renewal, reapplication, reinstatement, suspension, revocation or cancellation of accreditation, as well as to the activation of the CPRS of entities accredited by other government agencies. Ship agents are accredited by the Maritime Industry Authority.
Under CMO 28-2018, all applications shall be processed within seven working days of receipt of application with complete documentary requirements, pursuant to Republic Act No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018. CPRS is a module under BOC’s electronic-to-mobile (e2m) system that facilitates the automated registration and renewal of all stakeholders.
However, PSAA members—consisting of around 50 ship agents—are experiencing delays because of the nature of their business.
San Diego explained that PSAA members cater to tramp ship owners, whose ships, unlike container vessels, have no regular or scheduled port calls. Tramp ships are chartered according to their availability and proximity to the next port of loading and normally carry bulk and breakbulk cargoes such as wheat, soya bean meal, corn, rice, industrial salt, soda ash, silica sand, coal, petroleum products.
Upon conclusion of the contract of carriage, the ship owner gathers port disbursement costs from various Philippine tramp agents and negotiates. Usually, under this process, a Philippine ship agent gets appointed only a few days prior to the ship’s arrival.
Because of this, ship agents, on behalf of their principal, have to apply for CPRS every time they handle a new ship owner or principal that has no CPRS yet. Ship agents also handle the renewal of CPRS for their principals.
Under the BOC e2m system, ship agents follow these steps in order to release their cargo: the ship agent retrieves a Unique Reference Number (for the principal) from the BOC-accredited value-added service provider; gets the URN stamped by the BOC-Piers Inspection Division; submits application for CPRS activation and required documents to AMO; and upon receipt of CPRS approval, may now be assigned a registry number. BOC then creates the ship’s estimated time of arrival before the ship agent finally submits/registers the electronic manifest.
The delay in CPRS activation results in delay in the lodging of the electronic manifest; delay in the lodging of the cargo entry by the consignee; and huge amounts of resulting demurrage rates incurred by vessels, which San Diego noted range from US$3,000 to as much as $20,000 per day depending on vessel size.
As of press time, BOC has yet to respond to PSAA’s letter. – Roumina Pablo