A common vessel tariff agreement inked recently by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Ports Department of Brunei Darussalam reduced by at least 50% port tariff for foreign vessels plying the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), particularly those serving the Philippines-Brunei link.
For two years starting April 27, 2005, vessels pay only $0.04 per gross registered tonnage (GRT) for port dues and $0.02 per GRT per day for dockage.PPA general manager Oscar Sevilla and Brunei Director of Ports Haji Abd Rahman signed the arrangement in Manila last week to "incentivize" their respective flag vessels servicing the route.
Ships plying the route can only avail of incentives if their last and next ports of call are listed under the program. For the Philippines, it listed 12 ports mostly from Southern Mindanao: Davao, General Santos, Polloc, Zamboanga, Jolo, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bongao, Nasipit, Surigao and Ozamis. Brunei listed two: Muara and Kuala Belait.
"The ports that we have initially identified are those that are really strategically positioned within the growth areas but there has been a clamor to extend the program to other nearby ports," Sevilla noted. The MOA specified vessels operating under the program will be issued a certificate of accreditation/certification by their respective authorized government agencies to avail of the discounted rates.
The harmonization of the port tariff and lowering of the charges are expected to assist in the success of the BIMP-EAGA project. However, these special rates are applicable only to countries where the Philippines has signed bilateral arrangements.
The Philippines so far forged bilateral agreements with Indonesia and now Brunei Darussalam for the adoption of a common tariff for vessels operating in the BIMP-EAGA. A similar proposal is pending with Malaysia.