A GROUP of shippers is urging Malacañang to stop the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) from implementing an “unjustifiable” 949% hike in tariffs once the new operator takes over the Port of Pasig.
“We… urgently and humbly seek your intervention in the PPA’s attempt to unjustifiably and unconscionably increase arrastre, mooring and other tariffs at the Port of Pasig by as much as 949% for dry bulk cargo…, 615% for general cargoes…, and 71% for prime commodities,” the Pasig Port Users Against PPA Tariff Increases said in a full-page newspaper ad on Monday.
Signed by representatives of 54 companies, the appeal was addressed to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua, and incoming NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.
The 54 companies, which include Movers and Managers Corp., J-Tram Integrated and Marketing Corp., CQ Heirs Shipping Lines, San Nicholas Lines, Inc., JCAP Shipping Lines, JVS Journey Sea Trans., Inc., and Masuda Marine Corp., said the new tariffs are “exorbitant (and) without justification.”
The companies argued that raising tariffs amid rising fuel prices and a looming food crisis is “against the interest of the people.”
The tariff hike, which is applicable to all “tier 3” ports including the Pasig Port, is expected to affect the prices of grains used for flour and bread, animal feeds, construction materials, sugar, rice, and cooking oil, among others.
The port tariffs are “without consideration for the minimum wage of the locality of the affected port users,” they said.
“If tariffs are increased at the Port of Pasig, which ships to and from Palawan, the increase in tariff rates at Palawan will be added on to the increase in rates at the Port of Pasig for products shipped to the Port of Pasig, and vice-versa,” the group said.
The statement was published a week after the PPA awarded the terminal management contract for the Port of Pasig to the Manila-based Mega Lifters Cargo Handling Corp.
The Port of Pasig, which is situated near the M. Roxas Jr. Bridge (Delpan Bridge) spanning the Pasig River, covers 43,247.07 square meters on both banks of the river. It handled 848,960 metric tons of domestic cargo last year, according to the PPA.
“In other words, for dry bulk cargo imported at both Pasig and Palawan, the Palawan increase of 215% will be added to the 949% increase of Pasig, for a punishing 1,164% increase to the end consumer,” the Pasig Port users also said.
The group said they issued a similar appeal to the PPA Board of Directors on April 11, but did not receive a reply.
In their petition in April, port users Movers and Managers Corp., J-Tram Integrated and Marketing Corp., CQ Heirs Shipping Lines, TBB Enterprises, San Nicholas Lines, Inc., and JVS Journey Sea Trans., Inc. proposed that the “tariff increase be similar to that granted to MNHPI (Manila North Harbour Port, Inc.) in 2017, i.e. 24% increase implemented in three tranches of 8% each over three years.”
Two communications officers of the PPA received and acknowledged receipt of BusinessWorld’s request for comment on Monday, but the agency has yet to issue a statement on the matter as of press time. — Arjay L. Balinbin