THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said it remitted a total of P9.41 billion in dividends and taxes to the national government in 2018, a record remittance fueled by strong revenue growth during the year.

Its parent agency, the Department of Transportation, said in a statement Thursday that the port administrator remitted P3.51 billion in dividends in 2018, up 13%.

It also generated P5.9 billion in taxes last year, which it said amounted to “more than half of the total taxes it paid in the last 10 years.”

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said the high returns from PPA will be instrumental in implementing several projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

“The agency has achieved so much in terms of dividends remittance despite the massive infrastructure spending for port rehabilitation and development. This kind of fiscal management shall truly aid the government in achieving the ‘Golden Age of Infrastructure,’” he was quoted as saying.

PPA said revenue grew 14% to P17.49 billion in 2018, which is also 8.13% higher than its target of P16.17 billion.

“The streamlining of port processes coupled with strategic port development and modernization have greatly contributed to this strong performance as we aim for our operations to be on par with global standards,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said in the statement.

Port statistics posted on the PPA website said ports across the country handled a total of 468,439 ship calls in 2018, or an increase of 350.8% from in 2017.

Cargo throughput also grew 368.3% to 260.95 million metric tons, while container traffic rose 370.4% to 7.57 million twenty-food equivalent units. Passenger traffic increased 381.4% to 76.8 million, and roll-on, roll-off vessel traffic surged 420% to 7 million.

Mr. Santiago said the improving performance of PPA will help it achieve its goal of keeping the country’s port services “of the highest standards.” “This is… a testament to the resiliency of the Philippine economy as it continues to thrive despite external pressures from different foreign economies.” — Denise A. Valdez