Decentralize document evaluations away from Manila—logistics sector

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DAVAO CITY—The country’s logistics sector could be speedier and more efficient, according to local freight forwarders and exporters.

Philippine logistics would move faster and efficiently once the government decentralizes the submission and evaluation of shipment documents to the regions which have their own port operations, they recommended during a conference here.

The recommendations are for government agencies involved in the regulation of shipment of products and in the logistics supply chain.

The forwarders and exporters blamed the delay in transaction to the old practice of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to forward their filed documents to the national office in Manila before the government would give them the go-ahead to move products from the ports.

“The stakeholders recommended to decentralize the evaluation of requirements to the regional offices, instead of forwarding the documents to their central offices in Metro Manila,” according to a DTI statement distributed during the conference it and a team from the World Bank organized.

“Some of these concerns [by stakeholders] are on the transaction delays, port congestions, and the unavailability of online or bank payments of some agencies,” the DTI added.

The DTI said the forwarders and exporters want improvements in the document tracking system “for a more efficient traceability.”

Port congestion was one of the identified bottlenecks in the logistics sector and the conference participants said this was due to the lack of berthing facilities. They added: “there is [not] enough area to handle the increasing export volumes.”

They were optimistic, however, about this concern to be addressed shortly following the expected modernization project of Sasa Wharf in 2019.

The DTI-Competitiveness Bureau, the World Bank Group and the DTI Regional office here conducted the focused group discussion to review the logistics performance of Davao City following the improved ranking of the country in this year’s global survey by the World Bank.

This year, the World Bank said the Philippines dropped 11 steps in the 2018 Logistics Performance Index (LPI) from its 71st spot in the 2016 survey to this year’s 60th place. The Philippines got a score of 2.90, where the World Bank ranked 160 countries.

The DTI said survey results showed the Philippines getting the fifth spot under the lower middle-income category, next to Indonesia and Côte d’Ivoire that ranked third and fourth, respectively.

The World Bank survey is conducted every two years as a benchmarking tool to measure performance along the logistics supply chain within a country. The DTI said countries are assessed on the following areas: efficiency of customs and border management clearance; quality of trade- and transport-related infrastructure; ease of arranging competitively priced international shipments; competence and quality of logistics services; ability to track and trace consignments; and, frequency of shipments that reach consignees within the scheduled or expected delivery time.

The said areas are then rated 1.00 to 5.00 by the respondents comprising of freight forwarders and express couriers.

DTI Regional Director Maria Belenda Q. Ambi said “a stronger collaborative effort must be done, not just to further increase our rankings, but to also serve as our strategy to greatly facilitate trade and connectivity, as it is considered as one of the catalyst of economic growth.”