THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said Wednesday that net profit declined 25% year-on-year in the first quarter to P2.54 billion as port activity dwindled due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said in a statement that this was “primarily because of the effects of the COVID-19 dating back when China first imposed a lockdown on Jan. 23 and eventually the (Philippine) government’s imposition of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine from March 15 up to the present.”

In March, net profit declined 79% year-on-year to P300.93 million.

In terms of regulatory income, PPA said only Manila North Harbor Port, Inc. posted growth with a gain of 3.75%, while fees from International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and Asian Ports, Inc. declined 8% and 15%, respectively.

First-quarter revenue declined 17% to P3.75 billion, while March revenue fell 59% to P726.64 million, PPA said.

PPA recently remitted at least P5 billion in dividends to the national government. The funds will be used to support the government’s COVID-19 containment efforts and boost the Treasury with the disruption of the April tax collection season.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte extended the Luzon-wide lockdown period, originally scheduled to end on April 12, to the end of the month, pending containment of COVID-19.

“As early as January, there has been a slowdown in the movement of cargo as China, being the location of several transshipment hubs and a number of large manufacturing firms, has imposed restrictions to control the spread of the disease,” Mr. Santiago said. “Other countries, including the Philippines, followed suit.” — Arjay L. Balinbin