Singapore's port payment rules change

USERS of Singapore's port facilities will have to pay for services through a debtor's account with the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) from March 1, according to Business Times.

The PSA's revenue expenditure manager, Syed Abdul Rahim, said that most regular users, numbering about 3,000, had already opened accounts.

But the PSA hopes to net a further 700 companies and individuals using its services.

These people now pay up front, either by cash or cash card.

Cash cards, which range in value from $20 to $500, are similar to TransitLink cards in that a user draws down the value.

Any residual value on a card will be refunded by the PSA.

Mr Syed said those the PSA hoped to get to open accounts were mainly small operators with irregular transactions ranging from a few dollars to around S$1,000.

According to a port circular, all operational transactions at Pasir Panjang and Sembawang terminals and container freight stations will have to be done through accounts from March 1.

The charges that will be affected are wharf handling, store rent, hire of PSA mechanical equipment, removal and miscellaneous fees.

There are two categories of accounts. Users with monthly transactions exceeding $1,000 deposit with PSA when they open an account.

They will be told of the size of the deposit at the time and given an account number within a day of submitting it.

Users with transactions under $1,000 a month will not have to place a deposit.

They too will be given a number within a day of opening an account.

Under the account scheme, users will be billed for services within a couple of days but will get a 30-day credit period.

The PSA will also issue fortnightly statements.

An account can be opened at any PSA terminal.

The aim of the change is to standardise port administration procedures and help with the broader plan to make Singapore a cashless society.

However, even after March 1, those who use port services only occasionally and find opening a PSA account impractical will still be able to make cash payments at Tanjong Pagar Complex.

Meanwhile, owners of cargo shipped between Singapore and the Indonesian port of Belawan will get their goods more quickly in future.

A shorter port stay is one of the benefits that shippers can look forward to when an electronic data interchange link is established between the two ports.

The PSA has signed a preliminary agreement with PT (Perscro) Pelabuhan Indonesia in Medan to develop the link.

Perscro is the port authority which oversees Belawan and 14 other ports in the provinces of Acch, North Sumatra and Riau.

Belawan will be the first Indonesian port to get an EDI link to Singapore.

PSA deputy executive director Goon Kok Loon signed for Singapore while Perscro managing director S.F. Makalew represented Indonesia.

The PSA said: ''The EDI link will allow both parties to better plan their respective operations, providing advance and timely information flow.'' With the link, exporters in Belawan will be able to use personal computers to look up the sailings schedules in Singapore and plan for just-in-time feeder connections.

The same applies to exporters in other countries which have shipments bound for Belawan.

At first, the EDI link will provide only vessel arrival and departure information. Later, information on container stowage, dangerous goods and container vessel bay plans will be included.