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MARINA flagged over inefficient vessel monitoring

MARINA flagged over inefficient vessel monitoring
Elizabeth Marcelo September 13, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has admonished the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) over the lack of a reliable inventory of registered domestic vessels that are still operating.

State auditors said the lack of inventory resulted in poor monitoring of delinquent vessels and low collection of annual tonnage fees.

“The management admitted that it has no updated master list of registered domestic vessels, especially those pertaining to prior years,” the COA said in a 2021 annual audit report on MARINA.

It said the agency, whose primary task is to regulate and develop the country’s commercial maritime industry, does not also have an updated record of tonnage fees it collected from the vessels as well as the identities or profiles of vessel operators.

“There were non-operational vessels that are still included in MARINA’s master list, but could not be deleted from the registry unless an application for deletion is filed,” the audit report read.

“The actual records of existing and operational vessels are not updated and the personal identities of the operators are not captured,” it added.

The lack of an updated master list adversely affected MARINA’s assessment and collection of fees, especially tonnage fees from the operational vessels, the COA said.

Tonnage fee is calculated based on the gross tonnage of a Philippine-registered ship engaged in domestic trade, except fishing vessels.

As provided under the General Appropriations Act of 2021, tonnage fees should be used to promote and develop the domestic shipping industry, enhance maritime safety, and promote ship-building and repair industry.

Of the assessed P13.62-million receivable tonnage fees as of December 2020, MARINA collected only 12.29 percent or P1.67 million, the COA said.

State auditors said several vessels were allowed to renew their licenses by the MARINA regional office in Bicol, despite non-payment by these vessels of their tonnage fee obligations from previous years.

“Had MARINA-Bicol strictly implemented and monitored payment of tonnage fees, the correct amount could have been aptly collected. The renewal or issuance of licenses or certificates to shipowners and operators with arrears could have been prevented,” the COA said.

In a reply, MARINA said it has started implementing its integrated domestic shipping information system project, which aims to achieve real time online updates of the list of operational vessels.

The maritime agency said that with the project’s implementation, the inventory system of domestic shipping vessels would be updated, accurate and complete by next year.

It also committed to address lapses in reporting, assessment and collection of tonnage fees.