Lawmakers moved yesterday to amend the charter of the Philippine Ports Authority to pave the way for the privatization of the agency and enhance its competition and efficiency in port infrastructure development and services, a government press release said.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother, Abante Mindanao Party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., authors of House Bill No. 1667, said there is a need to strengthen and streamline the PPA operations by amending Presidential Decree No. 857 that created the agency.
Rodriguez said the bill will encourage privatization and expand participation of the private sector in the development, management and operations of ports through the build-operate-transfer scheme.
He, however, said that port privatization should not include the sale or transfer of ownership of port assets or facilities.
Rodriguez also said the measure will promote private sector participation in the planning and development of seaports in the country, encourage decentralization of local port management offices, and decoupling of the PPA's regulatory and commercial functions.
He said that when the PPA was organized in 1974 to manage and operate the seaports all over the country and despite being government-owned, the agency's record of accomplishment in port development "has been lackluster and at best, mediocre."
"At present, our port infrastructure facilities are either inadequate or unresponsive to the needs of the users. The delivery of port services is ineffective and inefficient. In addition, the revenue derived from the cargo handling services is on the decline," Rodriguez said.
HB 1667 provides for the opening of viable competition among ports and ensuring the efficient provision of port services, taking into consideration the physical configuration or constraints of the ports, vessel and cargo traffic and such other relevant factors, the press release said.
Under the proposed measure, the PPA will act as the national port planning body and will have jurisdiction over the development, maintenance, management and operations of ports.
The bill also provides for the PPA to establish and administer a port system comprising of vital ports critical to the trade and transport network of the country.
Rodriguez said the national port system will comprise all ports in the country, whether owned by the government or under private ownership, and whether operated commercially or for a special purpose.
The PPA, under the proposed law, will also have jurisdiction on all ports intended or used for commercial purpose or those built primarily for receiving vessels for the purpose of loading or discharging passengers and cargoes, the press release said.*