THE government’s income from port operations grew 31% to P7.28 billion in 2019, significantly exceeding the P4.94-billion target amid increased automation and the deployment of more efficient port equipment.

In a statement Wednesday, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said it posted a 2019 net income of P7.280 billion, well above the 2018 result of P5.553 billion.

“As against the target, the actual amount is 47% higher than the target of P4.941 billion,” it added.

PPA said Port Management Offices that turned in “strong performances” last year were South Harbor, Batangas, Davao, Surigao, and Bataan/Aurora.

“The positive deviation comes mainly from lay-up fees, ro-ro fees, domestic dockage fees, pilotage, the utilization of the Vessel Traffic Monitoring System, and other income,” it said.

The port regulator added: “Combining all the growth percentages in the first three years of the current administration, the PPA net income is growing at an annual rate of 17%, the highest revenue growth percentage in any of the last 15 years.”

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago attributed this growth to “various changes” being implemented in the agency.

“The changes range from manual to automated processes, installation of sophisticated, effective, and higher-productivity port equipment, compliance with the world’s best port management practices, and most especially, the shift in the outlook of employees to public service with reliability, integrity, and accountability,” he said.

PPA also disclosed that it will have to revisit its first-quarter performance targets in the next few days “in consideration of the current global concerns,” including the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak, the exit of the UK from the European Union, maritime disputes with China, and some safety and environmental concerns, among others.

“Even with the continuing threat of global concerns, ‘business as usual’ is not an option but reducing the risk of these threats coupled with management anchored on best practices and public-service committed government personnel, our gateways connecting to the tourism and trade centers of the world, will remain competitive and responsive to any current global demands,” Mr. Santiago said. — Arjay L. Balinbin