PPA proposes import container monitoring system

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is seeking to introduce an electronic container tagging and tracking system (CTTS) for all imports that could address long-running logistics issues, including the controversial container deposit.

Container deposit is a bone of contention between shippers and shipping lines, with the former accusing the latter of deliberately delaying return of deposits, an amount the importer is made to pay as guarantee for return of the container after goods in it have been discharged. Some shippers claim unreturned deposits held by some shipping lines run in the millions.

Under the proposed CTTS, a container insurance fee may be required in lieu of container deposits.

The proposal for a CTTS follows the issuance of PPA Special Order No. 216-2021 on May 26 that created an electronic container registry and monitoring committee which, in turn, proposed guidelines for electronic tagging of imported containers.

The system aims to monitor the journey of containers — from port discharge to their return to an empty depot then back to the port for re-export.

In a June 15 virtual public hearing, PPA assistant general manager for finance and administration Elmer Nonnatus Cadano said the idea of a monitoring system came up in discussions on logistics concerns and the role of ports in the country’s security between PPA, the Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the private sector.

PPA Port Operations and Service Department (POSD) manager Atty. Hiyasmin Delos Santos said shippers’ complaints filed before the Shippers’ Protection Office (SPO) were considered in crafting proposed CTTS guidelines.

SPO was created last year as part of temporary measures to protect the public during a state of national calamity from “exorbitant and unreasonable shipping fees” that have resulted in high consumer prices. POSD is the SPO secretariat.

In her presentation, Delos Santos said complaints received by SPO were mostly about container yard charges, return of empty containers, unreturned container deposit, demurrage and detention charges, and other alleged unreasonable charges imposed by shipping lines.

Delos Santos noted CTTS seeks to address these complaints, particularly unreturned container deposits, whose amounts range from P10,000 to P2.208 million based on shippers’ complaints.

(For the full report, visit PORTCALLS)

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