THE government is still hopeful that the seemingly endless tug of war between the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and tollroads units of the Metro Pacific Investment Corporation (MPIC) over delayed toll rate increase requests can be settled in amicable talks, an official from TRB said.
“We would like settlement talks,” TRB consultant Dante Suansing told reporters in a chance interview on Friday.
MPIC is the mother company of the operator of Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) Cavitex Infrastructure Corp. (CIC), and the operator of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Sublic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), and filed several requests for toll rate increase in 2012 and 2014.
Because none of the requests have been granted, MPIC took the matter to arbitration courts in Geneva and New York.
Last April, MPIC through CIC issued a Notice of Arbitration and Statement Claim to TRB after the government apparently put off the approval of toll rate adjustment petitions which were filed a couple of years ago.
MNTC also filed an arbitration notice against the TRB in April for toll rate hike approvals that were long overdue.
The adjustments, had they been approved by the TRB, should have been implemented in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The adjustments should have allowed CIC to implement incremental increases of up to 16 percent.
MPIC noted that the requests for adjustments are consistent with the existing Supplemental Toll Operation Agreement (STOA).
CIC is asking the government for P877 million in compensation for the TRB’s “inaction on lawful toll rate adjustments.”
“We, at TRB, are still crafting a suitable solution that conforms with our STOA, with the operator, and which should also conform with the Supreme Court and be acceptable to the general public,” Suansing said.
He said an amicable settlement between MPIC and TRB will be beneficial for both the government and the private tollroad operator.
“If we push though with the arbitration it will be costly,” Suansing said.
Suansing, however, said the talks might not be settled within the few weeks left of the Aquino Administration.