Saturday, September 18, 2021
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Port congestion announcement should come from proposed multisectoral body

The announcement of the existence of port congestion should come from a multi-sectoral agency whose creation was recently proposed by Philippine port stakeholders. This will ensure port congestion surcharges aren’t imposed indiscriminately.

The proposal was part of a list of recommendations that was the output of a recent two-day port users’ summit conducted by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that tackled issues affecting stakeholders.

Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña said the summit was a venue to discuss how port processes can be improved and to strengthen collaboration between the customs agency and stakeholders.

The multi-sectoral body would ideally include the BOC, Philippine Ports Authority, Maritime Industry Authority, and private sector representatives. They will, based on the pre-agreed definition of port congestion by the BOC’s Port Operations Service and terminal operators, determine if such a condition exists.

In a presentation during the summit, Cris John Garcia, logistics cluster lead for Southeast Asia of multinational food and beverage company Mondelez International, noted the ideal yard utilization is between 60% and 70% with a maximum container dwell time of 10 days at ports.

Utilization beyond 70% and dwell time of over 10 days indicate port congestion, he added.

Garcia noted that some importers sometimes receive from cargo service providers reports of port congestion, when there is none.

Association of International Shipping Lines president Patrick Ronas, during the same event, said there have been some delays in unloading of containers in the past weeks due to inclement weather and some improvement works at the terminals but that port operators have been proactive in providing updates to shipping lines.

Port of Manila district collector Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria said that “based on validated information from SGL (super green lane) companies,” the words “port congestion” are “being thrown around irresponsibly. The result is that certain charges are being imposed…”

Austria said only when the proposed multi-sectoral body announces there is port congestion should there be fees imposed “so as not to burden stakeholders.”

BOC Port of Manila deputy collector for Operations Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang suggested the inclusion of stakeholders’ proposal on determining port congestion in the draft customs administrative order (CAO) involving the rules on the discharge, admission, movement, loading, and withdrawal of containers vans.

The draft CAO institutionalizes a system of accounting and monitoring of movement of all incoming and outgoing containers utilizing information and communications technology under Section 109 of RepublicAct 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Mangaoang, who is assistant project manager of the Project Management Office tasked to draft implementing rules and regulations of the CMTA, suggested amending the draft CAO to assign POS as the office that will determine whether or not there is port congestion.

She added this function may be included in the executive order BOC is drafting that aims to restructure the customs bureau.

Lapeña, in his closing speech during the event, said BOC will spearhead an inter-agency committee that will be created through a memorandum of agreement with relevant agencies. – Roumina Pablo


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