IMPORTERS and port stakeholders have called on the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to reject the 25-percent hike in cargo handling tariff for international containerized cargo at the Batangas Container Terminal.
Earlier, a PPA technical working group approved a hefty increase in cargo handling tariff for the Manila North Harbor Port Inc. (MNHPI) despite a united position of stakeholders rejecting the hike, citing adverse effects of such adjustment on ordinary Filipinos as well as on government efforts to improve business competitiveness.
The PPA board last week gave the green light to MNHPI’s request for 24-percent tariff increase, which will be implemented in three tranches.
But in a statement, clients of the Batangas terminal have rejected the argument of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), which operates the facility, that the upward adjustment was a “cost recovery measure” since the port terminal’s profit actually increased last year.
JR Dayco of MCC Transport/Maersk raised the issue that ATI enjoyed an increase in volume since 2013.
ATI vice president for commercial and marketing Sean James Perez, however, argued that since 2010 when the company started operating the container terminal until 2013, there was “no market or income.”
ATI earlier issued a statement announcing that its net earnings rose eight percent last year at P1.91 billion, up from P1.77 billion in 2015 on the back of record volume of cargo handled by its international ports in Manila and Batangas.
In a recent public hearing, Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez admitted that the planned upward adjustment will lead to higher prices of consumer goods even as he acknowledged the need for the Batangas terminal to survive.
“This [tariff]will impact on the regular Juan dela Cruz as the consignees will just pass this increase to the consumer. The increase is too big for the ordinary layman,” he said.
Based on minutes of the meeting, Fernie Casiño of Suzuki Motorcycle Industries said the increase will jack up prices of motorcycle units.
Perez noted that the impact of the tariff hike will not just be on motorcycles but on other goods as well such as chicken, rice and flour.