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Business groups support separation of PPA commercial, regulatory functions

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BUSINESS GROUPS and members of the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) said they support a Senate bill that will separate the commercial and regulatory functions of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The JFC, in a statement on Wednesday, said the business groups and chambers sent a joint letter to Senator Mark Villar on Tuesday seeking a counterpart Senate bill to House bills 1400 and 8055.

“The proposed bill can be understood by the simple logic that an examiner cannot also be the examinee,” according to the letter.

They said since the PPA was created in 1974, its regulatory and development functions “have been a source of conflict of interest for the agency’s functions.”

“While it has long been established as the policy of the state to avoid such conflicts of interest, PPA’s case, seemingly, did not catch the attention and scrutiny of previous Congresses,” it added.

A policy brief published by the JFC and business groups had recommended the passage of a law that will create Philippine Ports Corp. (Philports), which will handle the development, management, and operation of public ports.

The policy brief also recommended the transfer of PPA’s regulatory functions to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), which is currently responsible for promoting the maritime industry and regulating shipping enterprises.

The groups said that reports and studies for so long “have discussed inefficient management of Philippine ports.”

“Complaints of patrons and users of ports about low service levels, inefficient port operations, and increasing port charges have been reported,” according to the letter.

“At the same time, the role of sea transport has become increasingly important in the nation’s strategy to maintain high levels of economic growth,” it added, citing the success of the roll-on, roll-off system.

They added that shipping is still the top choice for trade as it is too expensive to move most cargo by plane, which means that improving the country’s sea transport will increase its competitiveness and output in local and foreign trading networks.

“Based on such considerations, we believe it is timely and relevant to separate the regulatory and development functions of PPA,” the letter read.

“(This is) not only to abide by the long-established State policy against conflict of interest, but also to allow the agency to focus on improving port operations, while Marina will assume the regulatory functions over ports currently handled by the PPA,” it added.

Asked for comment, the PPA had yet to reply at the deadline. – Justine Irish D. Tabile

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