MANILA — The board of the Philippine Ports Authority has "indefinitely" deferred the implementation of its new container monitoring system, which business groups claimed would jack up importation costs.
According to PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago, there is supposedly a presidential directive to further study the Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System program.
"I will confirm that the PPA board has actually, at least majority of the PPA board, has decided to indefinitely defer -- not shelved -- the implementation of TOP-CRMS program precisely to study the program further, to make sure that it complies with the directive of the President, to ensure that the program will address the ease of doing business," he told ANC's "Headstart".
The PPA has yet to obtain a copy of the presidential directive.
"It was never shown to us. But out of deference to a member of the board who said that there is, majority of the board decided to defer until such time we know or we find out what the actual contents of the directive is," Santiago said.
The PPA and other government agencies will meet on Tuesday afternoon to continue discussions on TOP-CRMS, he added.
Business groups have warned that PPA's push for its new monitoring system could lead to higher prices of goods.
They said the TOP-CRMS would entail more steps in the process and could result to an additional import cost pegged at P35 billion annually.
"We don't see the TOP-CRMS to be cost-efficient. It will add on additional cost considering that as of the moment, the way we do our processes it is already digitized," Patrick Ronas, president of Association of International Shipping Lines, told "Headstart".
He said shipping lines would have to pay additional costs to transfer empty containers to shared service facilities.
Ronas also claimed that PPA wanted to duplicate the functions of the Bureau of Customs.
But the PPA argued that the cost would go down to P980 per container, inclusive of container deposit insurance.
The agency added that the new technology allows customer and shippers to track the status of their cargoes and containers.
The TOP-CRMS is also seen to solve storage problems and prevent port congestion through shared facilities for empty containers, the PPA added.