BIZ BUZZ: Container wars: PPA vs the logistics industry
Curbing the scourge of smuggling is important to protect the Philippine economy, no doubt. But should it come at the cost of further burdening the public at a time when everyone is already struggling with the rising cost of goods and services?
That’s what private sector stakeholders in the logistics industry want to know after they recently petitioned President Marcos to stop the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) from imposing a new automated system for tracking shipping containers.
At the proposed cost of P4,900 per shipping container, this system called the Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry Monitoring System (TOP-CRMS) will cost the industry an estimated P35 billion in additional expenses—a staggering amount which will, naturally, be passed on to consumers in the form of more expensive transport fees and charges and, hence, more expensive goods.
The PPA says the measure is meant to curb smuggling by giving authorities a way of tracking the movement of these shipping containers—using RFID technology—from the moment they arrive in the ports, to their destined delivery sites and to the container yards.
Fair enough. But the stakeholders of the logistics industry point out that curbing smuggling is the primary duty of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and not the PPA. As such, the ports regulator may be encroaching on the mandate of the BOC.
We hear the leadership of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) actually agrees with the private sector stakeholders and is skeptical about the PPA’s proposal. But the DOTr leadership wants to give PPA a fair hearing and has, instead, chosen to “go through the correct process” by getting the approval of other government agencies, as well. (After all, no one wants to deal with graft cases down the road as a result of fast-tracked projects.)
But the juicer part of this unfolding drama is the personalities behind the project. According to our sources, the TOP-CRMS program is being backed by a certain conglomerate, which is rather close to the present dispensation.
Will that closeness with the Palace result in the project being approved? Or will the President listen to the clamor of the public that’s reeling from high prices? Abangan!
— Daxim L. Lucas
Punching above its weight
It may be a small financial institution, but one of the country’s leading rural banks is punching above its weight.
We’re talking about Country Builders Bank (CBB), which was recently awarded by the London-based Global Banking & Finance Review as the Best Micro Finance Bank in the Philippines for 2023.
The awards recognize banks and financial institutions that reflect “the innovation, achievement, strategy, progressive and inspirational changes taking place within the global financial community.”
CBB president Mike Sandig said Global Banking & Finance recognized the bank for its efforts to change the business model of micro-lending by making it more inclusive, open and accommodating.
This, he said, differs from the traditional model, which is more stringent and tedious as it required numerous documents and longer processing time, thus excluding many customers especially those with no prior banking experience.
CBB not only provided loans to microfinance clients but helped improve their financial literacy by teaching them to manage their finances, recognizing that most microfinance customers were mostly unbanked and had little formal education.
Sandig welcomed the recognition saying it is a testament to the bank’s innovative approach to micro lending. He added that bank employees will be inspired to do even better now that the bank was recognized as the best in its category in the Philippines.
CBB has 33 branches serving parts of Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan. It plans to pursue an aggressive branch expansion program in the coming years. The bank serves a broad and diverse clientele including micro, small and medium enterprises, agricultural businesses, teachers, vendors, government and private employees.
For this year, CBB is one of only two awardees from the Philippines. The other awardee is Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., which was recognized as Best Retail Bank Philippines 2023 and Best Commercial Bank Philippines 2023.
—Daxim L. Lucas INQ
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