Port transactions now online

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    A joint memorandum circular (JMC) was signed yesterday making it mandatory the online filing, processing, and payment of port charges, cargo handling charges, other cargo handling-related charges, permits and ancillary fees, and customs taxes and duties.

    The initiative will be complemented by a planned unified rapid pass system that would allow the unimpeded passage of cargoes from port to point of destination.

    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in his message at the signing ceremonies of the JMC going digital and streamlining processes will advance the country’s e-governance efforts while minimizing physical contact at this time of the pandemic.

    The JMC was signed by officials of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

    The JMC cited that despite streamlining efforts of government agencies and private sector companies to create online permitting and payment systems, clients still need to physically go to port terminal offices for their transactions, resulting in health hazards to office personnel and the transacting public.

    “Given the potential for the continued spread of COVID-19 and the importance of keeping the Philippine seaports open to foreign and domestic trade, there remains a need to drastically limit the movement of people to the offices located in the Ports of Manila area, prohibit the continuation of face-to-face transactions and migrate all port area transactions to online platforms, including payments,” the JMC stated.

    Under the new guidelines, clients could now pay fees online through the accredited banks and payment channels of BOC, PPA, International Container Terminals Services Inc. , Asian Terminal Inc. , Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc.

    The mandatory use of online platforms covers the processing and payment of import and export transactions, permits, clearances, gate passes at the ports, port fees, and cargo handling-related charges.

    The newly-issued JMC also mandates gate passes to be processed electronically and printed off- site at the premises of the client. For general, break-bulk, bulk and/or other non-containerized cargoes, gate pass shall be issued only upon the actual loading of the cargoes in their respective trucks.

    Under the new rules, the 192 BOC – Piers & Inspection Division (PID) will only validate those with derogatory information after the container/shipment has been cleared by BOC but has not yet left the port.

    The issuance of official receipts will also be done online through the issuance of a scanned or digital copy to the client through available messaging platforms. Clients may still opt to get a hard copy for legal purposes but shall be subject to a scheduled time.