Thu, Oct 29, 2009 - Page 2 News List

MOTC plans harbor bureau to oversee port operations

COMPETITIVENESS The ministry aims to turn local seaports into commercial port corporations and boost ties with China's second-tier inland ports

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday it was planning to establish a Harbor Affairs Bureau by 2011 to supervise the operations of all the nation’s ports.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) told a briefing at the legislature’s Transportation Committee that the ministry was also planning to enhance the competitiveness of the nation’s international seaports by turning them into commercial port corporations.

CARGO

“We will also take advantage of the opportunity brought by direct cross-strait sea transportation and enhance our ties to some of the second-tier inland river ports in China,” Yeh said. “We hope this will help increase the amount of cargo transferred via Taiwan.”

The ministry’s Aviation and Navigation Department currently supervises the operations of the nation’s international commercial seaports, including Keelung Port, Taichung Port, Kaohsiung Port and Hualien Port.

Taipei Port is managed by Keelung Harbor Bureau.

Kaohsiung Port, the nation’s largest, fell out of the top 10 global ranking in terms of container cargo handled last year.

The lackluster performance of Kaohsiung Port was the focus of the question-and-answer session at the legislative meeting yesterday, which was scheduled to review the port’s operational budget.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Jen-fu (楊仁福) said the nation had not benefited from direct transportation services. Instead cargo delivered via Taiwan had gradually dwindled, he said.

Yeh attributed the drop in Kaohsiung’s ranking to the global economic downturn, shrinking domestic demand and relocation of the nation’s manufacturers to China.

VALUE

“The nation should focus on increasing the value of goods delivered via Taiwan, rather than just raising cargo volume,” Yeh said.

Both KMT and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers opposed the ministry’s budget plan for the next fiscal year, which seeks to transfer NT$8 billion in seaport construction funding to the treasury.

Yeh said the ministry was indeed short of funds for construction work at Kaohsiung Port, adding that the Executive Yuan may have other considerations on budget allocation.

“We will respect the committee’s decision if it insists we keep the fund,” he said.

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