PPA reviews regulatory charges in bid to cut shipping, travel costs

PPA reviews regulatory charges in bid to cut shipping, travel costs
Philippine Ports Authority OIC Manuel Boholano (left) with Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista. Photo from PPA.
  • Philippine Ports Authority begins looking at where cuts will be made to bring down costs for port users and other stakeholders
  • OIC-general manager Manuel Boholano says the task to reduce PPA charges is the “first order of the day”
  • Talks will be held with other maritime-related agencies, shipping companies and other stakeholders on efficient use of facilities, particularly in high-volume ports

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is reviewing operations, including the regulatory charges it levies, in a bid to cut shipping and travel costs as directed by Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista.

Also up for review are indirect costs related to the ports’ efficiency and productivity, OIC-general manager Manuel A. Boholano said.

In addition, PPA is set to discuss with other maritime government agencies, shipping line operators, and other port stakeholders the efficient utilization of facilities, particularly in high-volume ports like the ports of Manila, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, among others, which are considered gateway ports.

“Our first order of business is to comply with the directive of the DOTr to lower travel and shipping costs,” Boholano said in his message during the 48th Founding Anniversary of the PPA on July 11.

Boholano said he already reported the initiative to Bautista in their meeting also on Monday, according to a PPA statement.

Boholano has been designated by Bautista as OIC of the agency while a new appointee to head PPA has not yet taken up his office.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr earlier inducted Christopher Pastrana as the new PPA general manager. But Pastrana has not yet reported to PPA amid cries of conflict of interest over his being in the shipping business.

Baustista’s order to reduce costs for the port-using public and industries that rely on the ports came amid an outcry by various sectors against what they call exorbitant charges being levied by PPA at Tier 3 ports.

Shippers and ship operators, in particular, lashed out against new tariffs PPA will impose when the Pasig River Port opens under a new terminal manager. They urged government to probe tariff rises of 949% for bulk cargo, 615% for general cargo, and 71% for prime goods that PPA will slap on users of the Pasig River port.

READ: Pasig river port users seek Palace probe of steep hikes

Former PPA general manager, Jay Santiago, claimed the rates are imposed uniformly on all Tier 3 ports. The stakeholders, however, says the charges are unjustified.

Apart from reviewing regulatory charges and indirect costs, PPA is accelerating the digitalization of its processes, such as the Internet-based Port Operations and Receipting for Terminals System, the e-Permit Management System, the Transport Accreditation, Permits and Pass for Ports.

It is also interconnecting with other government agencies to facilitate movement of cargoes and turnaround time of vessels for faster delivery of raw materials for shippers and businesses, resulting in lower overheads, and quicker travel time for regular passengers and tourists.

The agency said it is likewise bent on continuing with infrastructure modernization and improvement to further provide comfort and convenience to shippers, regular sea-going public, and tourists while inside the ports.

Any possible reduction in port-related costs as a result of review of regulatory charges shall be on top of existing policies being implemented, such as exempting students, senior citizens, differently-abled persons, uniformed personnel, and Medal of Valor awardees and their first-degree kin from passenger terminal fees in all PPA-controlled ports.

Since its introduction before the pandemic, the terminal fee exemption has been equivalent to an average of nearly P7 million monthly benefit for those exempted.

PPA said to date, it continues to climb out of the rut caused by the global pandemic, as passage volume surged 130% to 20.87 million passengers handled from January to May this year, from only 9.07 million the first five months of 2021.

Containerized cargo traffic increased 3.84% to 3.12 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from only 3 million TEUs in the same period last year.

Ship calls also went up 13.4% during the period from 153,007 ship calls posted in 2021.

Total cargo volume, however, remains flat at 101.74 million metric tons.

“This is a challenge that we gladly take, so let us start looking into this directive,” Boholano stressed.