01 July 2015

PCCI urges PNoy to prioritize the expansion of Subic, Batangas ports

The business community hopes President Aquino will finally put to rest the port congestion issue by making a priority the expansion of Subic and Batangas international ports before his term ends next year.

Alfredo M. Yao, President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (PCCI) said the resolution of the port congestion at the Manila ports tops its wish list of priority issues that they want President Aquino to make a policy statement during his last State of the Nation Address this month.

“The port operation has improved a lot but sooner or later we will be hounded again by port congestion,” said Yao. Trade volume is expected to pick at the start of the second semester and with the robust economic growth, Yao expects congestion to be back again this year.

The port congestion that hit the Manila port last year has caused considerable damage to businesses in the country and potential economic potentials.

Yao stressed that the port congestion is a vicious cycle that come again and again if it is not addressed.

Yao would like the government to have the will to push for the expansion of the Batangas International Port, which is being operated by the Asian Terminals Inc.

If the capacity of the port is expanded all import and export cargo volume from and into the south should use the Batangas port rather than going to the Manila port and subject themselves to the burgeoning traffic of the city.

Expansion of the Subic ports, where the International Container Terminal Services Inc. has existing operations, need to be further enhanced.

It should be easier though to expand Subic because the Subic Bay Metroplitan Authority, which runs Subic freeport, is a government agency.

Subic port should be the main port for businesses operating in the northern part of Luzon, Yao stressed.

“At present, we are all relying on Manila ports and that is so inefficient,” he added.

“Government should come in and exercise its political will,” said Yao.

Aside from the port congestion issue, the PCCI also hopes the President to push for the enactment into law the long overdue Customs and Tariff Modernization Act among other priority bills pending in Congress. (Bernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin)