PPA extends till end-June waiver for payment of domestic ships’ fees

Surigao port. Photo from Philippine Ports Authority's Facebook page.
  • The Philippine Ports Authority has extended the period for domestic ships to avail of the waiver for dockage and lay-up fees
  • The assistance, initially in effect from December 1 to 30, 2020, will remain available from January 28 up to June 30, or until fund depletion
  • PPA earlier said it would utilize P250 million from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to subsidize the collection of domestic dockage and lay-up fees

Domestic ships using ports under the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) jurisdiction may still avail of the waiver for payment of dockage and lay-up fees until June 30.

In PPA Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 02-2021 dated January 28, PPA has extended from January 28 to June 30, 2021 the waiver period for collection of dockage and lay-up fees from domestic ships. This is a form of assistance to the domestic maritime industry reeling from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: PH shipowners to enjoy waived port fees from Dec 1

The port authority said the financial assistance, which was initially in effect from December 1 to 30, 2020 under PPA MC 42-2020, is being extended until June 30 or until such time the fund is depleted, whichever comes earlier.

MC 02-2021 amends MC 42-2020, which outlines guidelines for financial assistance provided to the maritime sector under Republic Act (RA) No. 11494, also known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

PPA earlier said it would utilize P250 million from the budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to subsidize collection of domestic dockage and lay-up fees.

The P250 million is part of the P9.5-billion standby fund allocated to DOTr, PPA’s mother agency, under Bayanihan 2. Of the P9.5-billion budget, P2.6 billion will be used to assist critically impacted businesses in the transportation industry.

To avail of the assistance, shipping companies or operators must be a holder of a valid Certificate of Public Convenience, Provisional Authority, or Special Permit issued by the Maritime Industry Authority.

They must also be a holder of a valid accreditation certificate issued by PPA.

Shipping companies/operators that have pending applications for accreditation are also eligible, unless said application has been denied by PPA.

The financial assistance will be on a “first come, first served” and per vessel, per transaction basis.

Bayanihan 2, signed on September 11 and in effect until December 19, 2020, sought to fast-track Philippine recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic fallout. When RA 11519 was signed last January 6, it extended the availability of funds appropriated through Bayanihan 2 until June 30, 2021.

Bayanihan 2 effectively extends the validity of the government’s COVID-19 programs and interventions under RA 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, whose validity lapsed in June 2020.

Under Bayanihan 2, DOTr and other authorized agencies are directed to assist critically impacted businesses in the transportation industry, including transport cooperatives.

This assistance includes providing grants for applicable regulatory fees for a period of not more than six months.

Domestic carrier organization Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) last year requested government assistance from DOTr and Department of Finance, saying their operations had been significantly impacted by lower cargo volumes as a result of restrictions imposed since mid-March to mitigate the effects of the e pandemic.

Philippine Inter-Island Shipping Association, of which PLSA is a member, also wrote to DOTr asking government to waive port charges for ships and suspend the two-day storage period for domestic cargoes as their operations had been undermined by restrictions brought about by community quarantines.

PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago earlier acknowledged domestic shipping lines “suffered so much losses” as they continued to operate even when cargo and passenger volumes were not enough to sustain daily operational expenses. – Roumina Pablo