Trade, port operations in E. Visayas picking up, Customs official asserts
A year after Super Typhoon “Yolanda” ravaged Eastern Visayas, the export trade and port operations in the region have yet to fully recover, according to the head of the Tacloban collection district of the Bureau of Customs.
Still, the district was “on its way to recovery,” said Avelino C. Alberca, who is in charge of the Tacloban City port, as well as its subports in Isabel, Leyte and Catbalogan in neighboring Samar.
“It may take the district one to two years to achieve its goal of full recovery,” he said in a phone interview.
Trading and port operations were perking up, “and we’re very optimistic the situation will continue to improve,” Alberca said.
“During the first quarter of 2014, it was really down. From an average of eight to 10 vessels docking each month at Isabel, our busiest port handling mainly goods for export, the number of ships went down,” he recalled.
“Now, it’s handling an average of four to five ships,” he said.
According to Alberca, about 85 to 90 percent of the Tacloban customs district’s monthly revenues were raised by the port of Isabel, which is much busier than the port of Tacloban.
Fully developed area
Isabel, a first-class coastal municipality located 143 kilometers southwest of Tacloban City, is the site of the Leyte Industrial Development Estate (LIDE), a fully developed industrial area which hosts two major industries, the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. (Pasar) and the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. (PhilPhos).
The Catbalogan port, on the other hand, has very minimal activity, he said.
Alberca said the Tacloban districts’ revenue collections “started picking up during the second quarter of the year.”
“We resumed normal operations from the month of April onwards,” he said. The district’s operations had to be transferred from the port area to a commercial building in downtown Tacloban as its two-story building was completely destroyed by Yolanda, he said.
Only P113.5M in revenue
Bureau of Customs records showed that during the January to September 2014 period, the Tacloban district collected only P113.5 million in revenues, P151.6 million short of the district’s target for the nine-month period of P265.1 million.
The collections were P85.1 million lower than revenues raised by the district during the same period in 2013.
In September, the district tallied only P15.9 million in revenues, about P14.3 million less than its monthly target of P30.2 million.
Aside from their regular customers, like the oil companies Shell, Petron and Pryce Gases, Alberca said “seeing more exporters and importers use the Isabel, Tacloban and Catbalogan ports would be good.”
“We’re also hoping other port users, whose operations were adversely affected (by Yolanda), would resume normal operations soonest,” he added.
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