‘Proposed PPA cargo tracker will hike, not lower, costs’

By Alden M. Monzon@AldenMonzonINQ

February 6, 2023 12:00:00

A local group of customs brokers is countering claims from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) that its planned container tracking and monitoring system will bring down logistics and shipments costs, saying that the regulation instead will bring added costs in service and trucking fees, among others.

In a statement sent to the Inquirer last week, Customs Brokers Federation of the Philippines (CBFP) president Julita Lopez assailed the position of the PPA saying that importers can save as much as 95 percent in container deposits once the Trusted Operator Program–Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) is implemented.

"That's not true. The statement is misleading and far from the truth. On the contrary, the stakeholders stand to pay more due to the TOP-CRMS. As a consequence, these excessive and unnecessary additional costs will be passed onto the consumers," Lopez said in a statement.

"What the PPA deliberately omitted is the fact that these container deposits they are trying to eliminate are refundable to importers once the container is returned to the depot," she said further, adding that the PPA will charge importers a service fee amounting to P980 per container on top an undisclosed amount of insurance coverage.

Further, the CBFP official said the insurance coverage will be charged instead of the refundable container deposits, excluding value-added taxes, under the PPA's P980-million container monitoring and registry system.

Under the current system, shipping lines are required to pay the container deposits while a maintenance fee on a per container basis is collected from importers.

The deposits are refunded once the empty container is returned to the depot.

Once the TOP-CRMS is implemented, importers and container users will pay the P980 per container service on top of the insurance coverage for each container.

Sought for comment, PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago told the Inquirer over the weekend that deposits are considered expenses, citing also that there are many complaints concerning delayed return of containers ranging from six months to one year.

"If they are not returning the containers, then those [container deposits] are costs," the PPA official said in a text message.

Santiago also said that the P980 per container fee is already inclusive of the insurance, noting as well that the choice is still with importers or brokers which will choose it from a list of accredited insurance companies.

The PPA official also addressed concerns that staging areas under the TOP-CRMS will be located in distant locations, an issue that the opposing groups are saying will drive up costs. INQ