Proposed tariff hike by Manila North Harbour Port meets stiff opposition

THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has been requested by an umbrella group of consumer stakeholders to postpone a petition by Manila North Harbour Port Inc (MNHPI) to raise tariffs by 37.45 per cent, asserting the public must be consulted before the move. "Consumers will ultimately be burdened by this planned tariff hike because traders will just pass on the added costs to the public," said United Filipino Consumers and Commuters president Robert Javellana, warning that the price of basic commodities will rise if the tariff hike is implemented. "The PPA must conduct democratic consultations where consumers must have representation," Mr Javellana told the Manila Standard. "The port operator must explain where the tariff hike will go. This might have a domino effect with other port operators seeking tariff increases also," he said. Port stakeholders earlier rejected the petition, saying it was both unwarranted and unjustified that the MNHPI, which they accused of already acting as a "monopoly", should hike its fees. The Philippine Inter-Island Shipping Association (PISA) rejected the claim of the port operator that it needs to adjust cargo-handling tariff to compensate for the "upward trend in cost drivers" and the increasing cost of operating Manila North Harbour. "For every increase incurred for any cost driver reflected as expense, computed per twenty-foot equivalent unit [TEU], there is already a proportionate revenue earned to compensate such costs incurred by the port operator," PISA said. The MNHPI has listed labour, fuel and power rates as among the cost drivers, but these were all debunked by the Philippine Liner Shipping Association. The group said the fuel and power consumption of the company was "alarming" at the very least and should trigger an audit instead. PISA said statistics from the Philippine Ports Authority show that MNHPI's net profit has been steadily increasing from PHP177.9 million (US$3.79 million) in 2012 to PHP305.7 million in 2013 to PHP332.6 million in 2014. This means the port operator's net profit went up 13 per cent, 19 per cent, and 16 per cent for the said period. Source : Schednet

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