Pimentel hits delays in release of balikbayan boxes in Manila ports
As the countdown to Christmas begins, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III questioned the delays in release of merchandise and balikbayan boxes arriving in Manila’s ports and said he planned to summon Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials to explain the problem.
Pimentel said the inefficiency was causing the country massive losses in revenue, and noted that many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) associations, as well as importers, traders, truckers, and brokers’ groups have complained about it.
Pimentel, who chairs the Senate’s Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship Committee, cited figures from the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) that port congestion results in P2.5 billion in economic losses.
According to him, vessels take four to five days to berth at the pier, and another two to three days to unload containers at the yard.
“So it takes 7-10 days to unload a container. The longer these containers stay unreleased, the higher the added storage charges are incurred, which are eventually passed on to us consumers,” he said in a statement.
Balikbayan boxes, which usually go to the families of OFWs, are also being delayed, he added.
Pimentel said he wanted to customs officials to explain how they would address the problem.
“I want to hear solutions from Customs officials and other stakeholders. Port congestion is a serious threat to the economy. We don’t want a slowdown in commerce this coming Christmas season all because volume may have to be scaled down as a result of inefficiency in our ports, in Manila in particular,” he said.
It was time to think of long-term solutions to the problem, he said.
“For example, we simply cannot rely on truck bans anymore. We need dedicated roads linking the port to our skyways and expressways,” he said, adding that these could be included in the “Build, Build, Build” program of the government. /kga