Customs brokers group backs PPA's digitalization efforts

The Chamber of Customs Broker, Inc. (CCBI) has expressed support to the digitalization efforts of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), especially the implementation of the Trusted Operator Program - Container Registry and Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS).

CCBI national president Adones Carmona said the TOP-CRMS implementation is the solution to port congestion and other problems that arise from it, including the container deposit problem that has been hounding customs brokers for decades now.

“For the first time, the government is standing to stop and address the problems on container deposits and other problems relating to the return of empty containers. So I am in favor of the TOP-CRMS implementation,” said Carmona in a press briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

In an earlier statement, PPA General Manager Jay Santiago explained that the TOP-CRMS will bring huge benefits against high unregulated charges in logistics costs such as container deposit and missing empty containers.

Santiago said that under TOP-CRMS, only container deposit insurance and monitoring fee worth P980 and P3,408 empty container handling service fee must be paid by importers compared to almost P30,000 container deposit in the current existing system.

"That is why we are working on ways to lower the incremental cost of transacting in the logistics chain and we are doing that, in our belief that the more we make the operations efficient, the more that we make it transparent, the more that we shorten the transaction process, our fellowmen will spend less," said Santiago.

TOP-CRMS uses technology for up-to-date container tracking allowing customers, carriers, freight forwarders, and shippers to access the status of their cargoes and containers.

It is expected to keep a registry and monitor all inbound shipping containers that will track every foreign-owned container’s location and movement using the industry- accepted data interchange formats through encrypted channels.

In implementing the TOP-CRMS, Santiago said the objective of PPA is to provide additional support by solidifying clear jurisdiction and cooperation with equally mandated government agencies,

Carmona backed the objective of the TOP-CRMS implementation, saying it will benefit both the customs brokers and importers as it promises to address the problem of congestion of containers in the warehouses at the ports.

He explained that the current system sometimes results in customers brokers paying huge amounts of money for unreturned container vans and other costs.

He cited as an example what happened in the last quarter of 2022 wherein the problem of the return of empty containers resulted in claims of additional fees.

Last month for instance, the PPA was forced to suspend the acceptance of refrigerated container vans after the congestion rate of refrigerated containers reached 110 percent.

“With the mandate to collect the duties and taxes of overstaying containers exceeding 90 days after its arrival, I believe the PPA has its mandate too to monitor the incoming containers to properly manage its forms to overcome problems of port congestion,” said Carmona.

“The ability to track your cargo in real time to the return, up to the return of the empty containers is an added value of customs brokers and importers,” he added.

The TOP-CRMS is part of PPA’s initiative in accordance with the directive of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to implement digitalization in government transactions for provision of better service to the public.