17 September 2009

SBMA chair urges Asian ports to explore new ways to gain growth

Citing the unprecedented growth in revenue at the Subic seaport despite the current economic slowdown, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Feliciano Salonga challenged Asian ports to find new opportunities amid the ongoing crisis.

Salonga, who opened the 11th general assembly of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP) in Mokpo, South Korea as outgoing chairman, also underscored the importance of INAP’s strategic alliance, saying its policies and actions “impact on the entire maritime port industry of the Asia-Pacific region.”

“The (maritime) industry operates in a global environment and grows or shrinks proportionately with trade activities all over the world,” Salonga noted in his statement at the opening of the assembly.

“But the proverbial silver lining behind today’s economic slump is the fact that while every crisis is different, all crises have one thing in common – and that is, they all create opportunities, especially for those who can identify them and are ready to act,” he added.

Salonga said the Port of Subic, which had lately become a choice anchorage for international seagoing vessels waiting out the recession, provides a good example of how opportunities could be created out of “unfortunate events.”

He said collections from vessel lay-ups in Subic Bay, as well as wharfage fees on imported products brought Subic seaport’s revenue total in the first seven months this year to P319.73 million. This amount was P3.43 million more than the revenue target set by the SBMA for this year, and represented a 15.7 percent growth over the 2008 figures.

“Our port collection from these laid-up ships, along with other equally significant factors, has allowed our seaport operations to achieve its revenue targets for 2009, as early as July,” said Salonga.

“So, today’s economic crisis should not be any different – if we attack it with logical examination, passionate zeal and decisiveness,” he also told INAP members.

Salonga likewise exhorted members of the port network “to re-establish priorities by taking a fresh look at how to manage the fiscal and operational aspects of ports, where to find new revenue streams and, at the same time, control costs.”

At the same time, Salonga urged INAP members “to discuss how we can attract more ports to join INAP,” which, he said, had attracted only three new members in the last 11 years.

He said that by tackling these twin tasks, INAP could “manage to be heard and heeded as a formidable voice and authority in the industry”, especially since ports “remain critical to the financial health of most economies around the world.”

“We in INAP can definitely be part of the solution – if we do what we ought to do and do it well,” Salonga concluded...

This year’s INAP general assembly was hosted by the Mokpo Newport in South Korea. Last year, the INAP convention was held in this free port under the auspices of the SBMA.

Among the INAP officials who participated in this year’s assembly were: Choi Byeong-Soo - CEO of Mokpo Newport Co. Ltd., Angelo C. Verdan of the Cebu Port Authority, Priyath B. Wickrema of the Sri Lanka Port Authority, Masanao Ozaki of the Kochi Prefectural Government, Chang Dechuan of the Qingdao Port Authority, and Achmad Baroto of the Port of Tanjung Perak, Indonesia. (SBMA Corporate Communications)