TRUCKERS and customs brokers called on the government to enforce the rules on re-exporting empty containers as an urgent measure to address congestion in the Port of Manila, with stakeholders claiming that port utilization is already at 100%.
The Alliance of Philippine Customs Brokers and Trucking Associations (APBTA) held a news conference on Monday over the proposed joint administrative order (JAO) by the Department of Finance (DoF), Department of Transportation (DoTr), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which they said may be helpful in the long term but will not immediately address current port congestion issues.
The JAO, due to be issued later this month, is considered a “long term” solution by regulating charges imposed by international shipping lines, the APBTA said, adding that urgent measures are needed to ensure the free movement of trade goods.
“The JAO addresses long-term issues. For the short term what are the solutions? Actually our ports are now 100% utilized… if we wait for the JAO, it will take time,” said Professional Customs Brokers’ Association of the Phils. Inc. (PCBAPI) President Rey T. Soliman, who also chairs the Port Truckers, Customs Brokers Consumers Cooperative (PTCBCC), at the briefing on Monday.
Mr. Soliman said the government should revisit Bureau of Customs (BoC) Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 01-2015, which allows for empty foreign containers to stay in port without being subjected to taxes or duties if they are re-exported within 90 days. This can serve as an immediate solution to port congestion before the government release the JAO.
“We suggest since the rules call for it, we need to re-export empty containers which are in the ports. This should be a priority to decongest the port… until the situation normalizes. Then implement the JAO,” he said.
In an interview with BusinessWorld on Monday, Inland Haulers and Truckers Association (INHTA) President Teddy Gervacio said that according to the draft JAO which the association has seen, some of the provisions are already laws.
“The BoC still has not implemented them. So the question remains, when will this be signed and when will this be implemented correctly,” Mr. Gervacio said.
Abraham G. Rebao, Vice President for Transport at the Aduana Business Club (ABC), said he does not understand why Customs Chief Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero cannot implement CAO 01-2015.
“It’s only Bureau of Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero who has the authority to implement that. We are amazed on why it is not being implemented. What is behind it? That is the only way to drastically decongest the port and container depot,” Mr. Rebao said.
Mr. Guerrero was unable to comment at deadline time.
Last month, the DTI said in a statement that under the JAO, shipping lines will not be allowed to impose fees in the Philippines but will bring container depot charges in line with international fees in order to deter the abandonment of empty containers in container yards.
The BoC and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) are also scheduled to release a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC)this month that will seek to bring back the utilization rate of container depots in Manila to 70%. — Gillian M. Cortez