THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said the shipping industry will receive assistance from the government’s second stimulus package in the form of subsidized port fees.
The aid to the industry is authorized by Republic Act. No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II), signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sept. 11.
Under Bayanihan II, P9.5 billion was set aside for the recovery programs of the Department of Transportation (DoTr). Of that total, P2.6 billion was set aside for assistance to the transportation industry.
The aid is applicable to all Philippine-registered ships operating in the domestic trade and calling at government ports under the jurisdiction of the PPA, according to Memorandum Circular No. 42 issued by PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago on Nov. 26.
“The funds that DoTr shall transfer to PPA are not in the form of subsidy to PPA’s operations but correspond to DoTr’s budget under Bayanihan Act II in the amount of P250 million, which shall be treated as financial assistance to be utilized in subsidizing the fees being collected from domestic shipping owners, specifically, dockage (domestic) and lay-up fee (domestic),” according to the circular.
Eligibility requirements for shipping companies or operators include a valid certificate of public convenience, provisional authority, or special permit from the Maritime Industry Authority, and a valid accreditation certificate issued by the PPA.
“Shipping companies or operators that have pending applications for accreditation are considered to have met this requirement unless otherwise said application has been denied by the PPA,” the circular said.
The subsidy will run between Dec. 1 and Dec. 19 “or until such time that the fund assistance shall have been depleted, whichever comes earlier,” it added.
Philippine Liner Shipping Association President Mark Matthew F. Parco has said the domestic shipping industry, like other industries, was “taken by surprise by the speed and breadth” of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. — Arjay L. Balinbin