PPA feels the pinch of COVID-19 as March income dips 79%

14 APRIL 2020, MANILA—The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is feeling the pinch of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic in all aspects of its operations.

This after PPA’s income for March plunges 79% from the registered P1.401 billion in the same period of last year to a meager P300.93 million this year, approximately 16 days after the imposition of the Community Quarantine in Luzon.

Unaudited net income for the first three months of the year also decreased by 25% from P3.337 billion posted in 2019 to P2.538 billion this year as all revenue sources of the agency registered negative performances for the period.

Even on PPA’s regulatory income, only Manila North Harbour Port Inc. registered a positive deviation of 3.75% while the fees coming from International Container Terminal Services, Inc., and Asian Terminals, Inc. went down by 8% and 15%, respectively.

PPA General Manager Jay Santiago explained that the low net income registered in March and subsequently the first quarter of the year was primarily because of the effects of the COVID-19 dating back when China first imposed a lockdown on 23 January 2020 and eventually the government’s imposition of the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine from March 15 up to the present.

“As early as January, there has been a slowdown in the movement of cargo as China, being the location of several transshipment hubs and a number of large manufacturing firms, has imposed necessary restrictions to control the spread of the dreaded disease,” Santiago stressed.

“Other countries, including the Philippines followed suit, thus, justifying the negative effect of the same in almost all areas of our revenue sources,” Santiago said.

“Hopefully, with the relaxation of some restrictions on trade, we will be able to arrest the downward trend in the next couple of months particularly when the country is already able to lift its restrictions on some trade and commercial processes,” Santiago added.

Total revenues for the first three months, meanwhile, decreased by 17% to P3.753 billion from P4.509 billion registered in the same period last year. For March, revenues fell 59% to P726.64 million from P1.773 billion.

From PPA’s revenue sources for the quarter, the hardest hit are the fees coming from its vessel Lay-up operations, which went down by 71% followed by Storage that decreased by 57.42% and arrastre and stevedoring now down by 41%. For March, hardest hit include Lay-up fees, Storage fees and share from the Terminal Appointment Booking System or TABS.

Total expenses for the quarter, on the other hand, went up by 7.32% to P1.215 billion from P1.132 billion in the same period last year wherein bulk of the expenses went to Personnel Services which increased by almost 11%. For March, expenses went up by 14% to P425.71 million from P372.72 million.

Late last month, the PPA has remitted at least P5 billion in dividends to the National Government to help in the country’s fight against COVID-19. The amount remitted is by far the highest dividend registered in the 45 years of existence of the agency. PPA is mandated to remit at least 50% of its net income to the National Coffers annually. PPA is a regular member of the top 10 ‘billionaires club’ of GOCCs remitting dividends to the Government.

To further help Government in its fight against the dreaded disease, PPA is now in the process of retrofitting the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal located inside Pier 15 of the Manila South Harbor to become a COVID-19 treatment facility using the P100 million funding support from the Lopez Group of Companies. This 206-cubicle facility, when completed, is expected to complement the two Bayanihan Quarantine vessels docked at the same port which are being used for returning overseas Filipino workers and seafarers. It will also address the shortage of COVID-19 treatment facility in the National Capital Region as well as its nearby cities and provinces.

“This is such a trying moment for all of us as we continue with our battle against COVID-19. If we are united and everyone will be strictly following orders and measures, I believe, we will be able to beat this disease and be back to our normal ways again in no time,” Santiago said.

“Hopefully, when this is all over, we should not take for granted the lessons we learned from this pandemic but instead we should use these lessons to make ourselves better and stronger as we continue to sail to a better tomorrow,” Santiago added.