The Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) on Wednesday assailed once more the container monitoring and tracking system planned by the Philippine Port Authority (PPA) even as port authorities defended its merits.
AISL president Patrick Ronas characterized the PPA's Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) as an added burden to stakeholders in terms of cost and compliance.
"We don't see the TOP-CRMS to be cost-efficient. It will only add another layer to the process. We see it as an additional cost considering that, as of the moment, the way we do our processes is already digitized," Ronas said, even going as far as suggesting that this would be damaging to the industry and hurtful to ordinary Filipinos.
Ronas also reiterated that the practice of paying container deposit was preferable compared with the fees to be collected under the PPA's plan.
"There is a difference between having a deposit and having a cost outright," he said.
Sought for comment, PPA general manager Jay Santiago countered, "I don't know what is more exorbitant, P30,000 container deposit, the refund of which is problematic, or P980. You do the math. If the system is working and is not broken, how come a lot of port stakeholders are complaining about it?"
Santiago also responded to the claim of the AISL officials that an P18,000-fee for transporting the container from ports to PPA's staging area in Bulacan and another P18,000 to return the container in Manila would be collected in the earlier version of TOP-CRMS.
"We don't know where they are getting this number. From the onset, the total amount payable under the TOP-CRMS has always been P4,500, now broken down as: P980 for container registration, monitoring fee including container deposit insurance premium of P250 and P3,520 for empty container handling fee at the empty container shared staging facility," said Santiago.
The AISL and PPA officials also differed on the issue of container monitoring and whether the Bureau of Customs (BOC) should shoulder such sole responsibility.
Santiago noted that during an interagency meeting last Feb.7, the BOC admitted that the Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo system was only able to monitor 20 to 25 percent of all laden containers entering the Philippines and none of the empty containers.
"So, who monitors the rest? It is without doubt that PPA has jurisdiction on all activities passing through PPA terminals, including those shipping vessels and their containers," said Santiago.
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