Transport & Logistics Stakeholders air recommendations to facilitate flows of goods amidst COVID-19

The issues and challenges faced by the transport and logistics sector were discussed last 15 April 2020, during the 3rd eForum of #ResilenceAndRecoveryPH with the topic “Local and Global Supply Chains: Quick Assessment and Ways Forward”.  

During the forum, the transport and logistics sector with importers, supply chain associations, port users and exporters, have expressed their disdain over the increasing shipping cost including demurrage fees –locally and globally. The burden of paying higher fees and demurrage was passed on to their shoulders at the most inconvenient of times when there are airfreight cancellations, more return shipments, port congestion/container build-up at ports, blank sailings at short notice, and so on- all without their fault, but as an impact of the dreaded COVID-19 disease.

The group sought the help of government and private sectors for solutions to address and ease their current burden. They urged government, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in particular, to refrain from passing the burden of paying higher fees and charges to port users. More importantly, they asked government to consider long-term and short-term solutions in order to improve the flow of goods in the country and make the cost of transport and logistics more competitive, domestically and globally. Following are the recommendations:

Short-term solutions:
1. Implement the Super Green Lane (SGL) for PEZA shipments and transactions;
2. Suspend demurrage charges for shipments stuck at the port and apply this retroactively to all shipments affected;
3. Extend the free storage period from 5 days to 10 days;
4. Lift the truck ban/ number coding;
5. Promulgate guidelines and ensure that all shipping lines have sufficient Container Yard (CY) space for empty containers as well as expedite the accreditation and activation of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) as needed.

Long-term solutions:
1. Creation of a single Customs Revenue District for ports serving the Greater Manila Area or mandate a single port of discharge to vessels
2. improve online processing of permits/customs clearance/payments
3. Full implementation of the National Single Window;
4. Improve internet speed and connectivity
5.Establishment of a Supply Chain and Logistics Council composed of public and private sector.

In response to the groups plea for help, a statement urging the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to address Ports Issues under COVID-19 and Endorsing the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) on  establishing guidelines in the application of local charges imposed by international shipping lines, freight forwarders or logistics companies, customs brokers, cargo truck operators, terminal operators and container yard operators to comply with existing laws and instructing the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to improve productivity in the handling of cargoes, was issued.-GTM

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