PPA completing regulatory impact statement on container monitoring system

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PPA completing regulatory impact statement on container monitoring system
  • The Philippine Ports Authority is still working on its regulatory impact statement for proposed guidelines of the container registry and monitoring system
  • The statement will be the basis for the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s regulatory impact assessment on the proposed guidelines
  • PPA spokesperson Eunice Samonte said no definite date has been set for the statement submission to ARTA

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is still working on its regulatory impact statement for proposed implementing operational guidelines (IOG) of the container registry and monitoring system.

The statement will be the basis for the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s (ARTA) regulatory impact assessment (RIA) on the proposed IOG of PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 04-2021.

AO 04-2021 prescribes the policy on the registration and monitoring of foreign containers entering and leaving PPA ports. It requires foreign containers to register to PPA’s Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) and to secure a container insurance policy.

ARTA director general Atty. Ernesto Perez, in a media briefing on February 10, said they have earlier received and commented on PPA’s preliminary impact statement and have told the ports authority to submit a regulatory impact statement for the conduct of the RIA.

PPA spokesperson Eunice Samonte told PortCalls in a Viber message no definite date has been set for submission of the regulatory impact statement to ARTA.

Perez said RIA is a tool that will ensure TOP-CRMS has been subjected to proper consultations not only with other government agencies but also with private stakeholders, especially those who will be affected by the program. He added it will ensure the proposed regulation will not cause undue regulatory burden and cost not only to the government agency but even to the transacting public.

He noted that under Sections 5 and 17 of Republic Act (RA) No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, ARTA has been tasked to review any existing or proposed regulations to ensure they are not redundant, outdated, or causing undue regulatory burden or cost to the public.

Perez said the assessment will only take days, and will say if the policy or regulation is a “go or not go.”

Asked what happens if the policy is a “not go”, Perez said ARTA’s mandate is just recommendatory. But if the government agency still proceeds with its regulation despite ARTA’s negative recommendation, Perez said “it’s their lookout.”

They will carry the burden of proof, he said, in case the policy is contested. He added the agency will also have a hard time justifying why they deviated from the ARTA recommendation.

PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago earlier said PPA will comply with ARTA’s recommendations to changes in the proposed IOG, if any, as long as the objectives of the system—which are to eliminate container deposit and manage empty containers—will still be achieved.

PPA said TOP-CRMS addresses the long-standing issue on return of container deposits imposed by foreign shipping lines, as well as the management and return of foreign empty containers.

Various stakeholders and business groups, however, have been opposing the program.

Seventeen stakeholders and business organizations earlier called on Marcos to intervene and immediately scrap AO 04-2021 and TOP-CRMS, which they said “threatens to cripple the transport and logistics industries and the national economy as a whole.”

The groups 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 an additional annual import cost estimated to be at least P35 billion.

Under the proposed 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. Moreover, all empty containers for re-export are required to be endorsed to a PPA-designated staging facility at least 72 hours prior to departure and this entails a service fee of P3,520 plus VAT per container beyond the first three days.

They added that the system will also not solve port congestion as claimed by PPA, and is a “clear usurpation of Customs function.”

Two stakeholders organizations, on the other hand, said they support the system, saying they see it finally ending issues on the return of container deposit and empty containers.

Implementation of TOP-CRMS has recently been indefinitely deferred by the PPA Board following calls from various stakeholders and business groups to scrap the system.