• Businesses seek govt help on port congestion charges

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    THREE business organizations in Cebu sought the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) over the weekend to regulate the activities of international shipping lines calling at the Cebu International Port (CIP) in connection with their imposition of port congestion charges and container imbalance charges.

    The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association Inc. (PISFA), and Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. Cebu Chapter (CCBI) said they sent a joint manifesto last month to President Rodrigo Duterte, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez and Visayas Area presidential assistant Mike Dino.

    The heads of the three business groups said the practice of international shipping lines to impose port congestion charges and container imbalance charges on shippers that use the CIP is making local enterprises uncompetitive.

    They also lamented the fact that such additional charges are being imposed by these shipping lines “even though our Cebu International Port is not experiencing congestion.”

    They said these charges imposed by the liners are “based on perception only without considering the impact to consumers who will bear the increase of the price of commodities passed onto them by the businessmen.”

    In addition, citing reports from the import and export industries, they noted that a number of international shipping lines have not been returning the container deposits of importers “for at most two to three months.”

    They cited in particular Hanjin Shipping Co., which has gone bankrupt and sought court receivership in August, whose unreturned deposits they said have amounted to over a million pesos.

    “The Cebu International Port plays a pivotal role in the movement of goods and economic improvement of the Visayas and Mindanao regions, however, the charges imposed by the international shipping lines would adversely affect the [region’s] competitiveness and connectivity with the Asean neighbors.”

    The manifesto added: “The desire of the Cebu Business Organizations to become more competitive would only be achieved if government has full oversight of the international shipping lines’ operations using the Cebu International Port as their port of discharge.”

    The business community called on President Duterte to designate DTI as “the government agency tasked to oversee, review and regulate the operations of the International Shipping Lines for container imbalance and port congestion charges using the Cebu International Port as the port of discharge, thereby leveling-up Cebu’s competitiveness in the Asean Economic Integration.”

    CCCI president Melanie Ng, PISFA president Carmel de Pio-Salvador, and CCBI president Jose Jefferson Jajao signed the declaration September 13, 2016.

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