The government will provide economic relief to ship owners and offer returning seafarers with free Covid-19 testing as part of its initiatives to help the economy recover and mitigate the spread of the dreaded disease.
Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said the government, through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act 2, will be waiving the collection of a number of port fees for shipping companies and owners as a form of economic support to the “critically-impacted maritime sector.”
Roughly P250 million will be used to subsidize the fees that will be waived, specifically the dockage and lay-up fees for domestic ships.
Returning seafarers, meanwhile, will receive free swab testing for Covid-19. A total of P270 million has been earmarked for the Covid-19 tests of returning Filipino seafarers. Only inbound or returning Filipino seafarers who have disembarked through Philippine ports and airports are entitled to avail of the free Covid-19 testing.
“These initiatives will be a great help for shipping companies and operators and seafarers, especially since we have yet to see the end of this pandemic,” Tugade said.
For shipping companies/operators to avail of the financial assistance, they must be a holder of a valid Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), Provisional Authority (PA), or Special Permit (SP) issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
They must be a holder of a valid accreditation certificate issued by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). Shipping companies/operators who have pending applications for accreditation are also eligible.
The financial assistance shall also be on a “first come, first served” and per vessel, per transaction bases.
“Ever since the Covid-19 broke out, our maritime workers have been vital to keep the economy thriving. They are also considered as frontline workers during these challenging times and so we will implement this as soon as possible,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said.