| Code: 57179 |

TIN news:         Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Alberto Lina yesterday assured members of the British Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (BCCP) that the port congestion problem in Manila would not happen again during his watch.
 
In yesterday’s BCCP’s business breakfast meeting, Lina told the businessmen that after the announcement of the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion that the flow of port operations had normalized in April, he would do his best to ensure the problem that almost ground the country’s economy to a halt last year would not happen again.
 
“What happened last year was a confluence of many factors and problems affecting trade flow, our action will not stop there as I vow that the recurrence of this issue will not happen again – not under my watch,” Lina said.
 
He said that they would continue to decongest the ports and improve the systemic interventions by adapting to the economy and market forces.
 
They are collaborating with other sectors and compiling related studies and proposed solutions such as on inland clearance depots, increasing the capacity of other ports in Subic and Batangas and monitoring and controlling the flow of empty containers.
 
The BOC is also discussing with representatives from the shipping lines and freight forwarders association to either reduce or eliminate the shipping charges that were a result of the port congestion such as port congestion surcharge, emergency cost recovery surcharge, container imbalance fee and terminal handling charge.
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Private port operators Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) for the South Harbor and the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) for the North Harbor would implement the container booking system (CBS) in the third quarter of the year.
 
The CBS refers to the system that will align container withdrawal demand with terminal capacity on a 24-hour basis.
 
This means that trucks with business with ATI and ICTSI, whether to load or unload cargo, would now be required to make an advance appointment with the port operators.
 
Lina said that with the CBS, it would cut the queuing time of a truck from half a day to 30 minutes to one hour, since they have a time schedule to arrive at port.
 
Since port operations are 24/7, there would be truck appointments even in the early morning.
 
Meanwhile, Lina said that since last month, he has divested from seven private companies to avoid conflict of interest with his work in government.
 
Lina reportedly executed the divestment papers last June 20, three days before the two-month deadline for him to disassociate from his companies that have dealings with the bureau.
 
They are set to pay documentary stamp and capital gains taxes today.
 
Lina, who owns the Lina Group of Companies, reportedly divested his interests in seven – out of 23 firms – that have direct dealings with the BOC, namely E-Konek Pilipinas, U-Freight Inc., U-Ocean Inc., Air 21, Airfreight 2100 Inc., Cargohaus and LGC Logistics.
 
So far, they have only paid taxes for E-Konek, U-Freight, U-Ocean and Air21.
 
Last May 4, he closed down the brokerage firm 2100 Customs Brokers Inc. located at the second floor of Cargohaus building, Old MIA Road, NAIA complex in Barangay Vitalez, Parañaque City.
 
He served as chairman of these seven firms.
 
When asked who would take over his positions in these companies, he did not have an idea and a new chairman might have to be elected.
 
When asked how much income was lost when he left these firms, the Customs chief replied “secret” but he would still enjoy receiving salary from the 16 other companies that he retained.
 
“At least I could still survive,” he added, since he does not plan to take his P60,000 monthly salary as BOC head.

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