Gov't mulls measures to ease truck ban's economic impact

By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 16 2014 10:19 AM | Updated as of Mar 16 2014 06:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Economic managers of the Aquino administration are discussing measures to minimize the impact of a truck ban imposed by the city government of Manila on the domestic economy.

The managers, led by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Arsenio Balisacan, met last Friday to discuss these measures.

Among the measures they tackled include the adjustment in the operations of warehouses, banks, Bureau of Customs (BOC), and other agencies involved in the shipping and port businesses.

The government has yet to come up with an official figure on the possible losses arising from the imposition of the truck ban on the country’s exports and imports.

Citigroup economist Jun Trinidad earlier warned that the economic losses stemming from Manila City’s truck ban could range between P61.2 billion and P320 billion, far outweighing the losses caused by traffic amounting to P2.4 billion per day based on the study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The Aquino government has recognized the impact of Manila’s Ordinance 8336, implemented starting on Feb. 5, which imposed a citywide daytime ban on trucks from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Manila’s main streets.

After a three-day truck holiday, the city government and truckers’ groups reached a compromise wherein loaded trucks would be allowed to travel between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a period of six months to give time for businesses to transfer their operations to either Batangas Port or Subic.

On the first day of the truck ban, customs collections at the Manila International Container Port of port giant International Container Terminal Services Inc. plunged to P30 million from P262.8 million while that of the Port of Manila of Asian Terminals Inc. fell to P134.4 million from P253 million.

The operations of companies located in economic zones registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) were likewise affected.

Groups want ban lifted

This prompted major business groups and foreign chambers led by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Federation of Philippine Industries, Port Users Confederation Inc. and the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry to call for the truck ban to be lifted.

The groups added that transferring to either the Batangas Port or Subic was out of the question since this requires careful planning and massive investments.

The Port of Manila is the 25th largest non-transshipment port in the world, and the 37th largest container port overall in terms of capacity and volume handled.

The whole Port of Manila handles about 3.8 million 20-foot equivalent units while the Port of Batangas could theoretically handle a maximum capacity of no more than 300,000 TEUs.

Manila has 24 ship-to-shore cranes and more than 70 yard gantry cranes whereas Batangas has two ship-to-shore cranes and four yard gantry cranes.

The groups added that no shipping line or customer of a shipping line would use Batangas or Subic if it could not get the majority of imports meant for Manila through its roads.