Truckers face probe on 50% rate hike
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is probing trucking firms for possible collusion and anticompetitive practices after some of them raised their hauling rates by an average of 50 percent due to the truck ban being implemented by the Manila City government.
At the sidelines of the Sikat Pinoy Food Fair on Wednesday, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said they have started looking into reports about the hike which he noted was implemented without prior consultation with stakeholders.
“This looks like a cartel type of behavior. If the increase is 5 to 10 percent, that I think is reasonable given the situation. Why raise their rate by 50 percent just because they can’t park in the streets?” he told reporters.
Domingo added that they have started conducting a survey among exporters to determine which of the trucking groups raised their hauling rates and by how much.
“This also looks like collusion because they raised their rates at the same time and that’s not allowed because that shows that competition is not working. Once we have the facts, we will ask the Department of Justice to look at the anticompetition provisions under Executive Order 45 and investigate this further,” he said.
Even Philippine Economic Zone Authority officials have started asking their locators to verify whether they were also affected by the increase in hauling fees.
It was reported in the Inquirer on Tuesday that members of the Confederation of Truckers Associations of the Philippines (CTAP) agreed to hike their hauling rates by an average of 50 percent during the group’s regular meeting on March 12.
CTAP director Bert Suansing even warned that the effects of the increase would be felt within two months with consumers bearing the brunt of the burden.
In another interview, Teddy Gervacio of the Integrated North Harbor Truckers Association also confirmed that their members have started charging higher hauling rates.
This was their response to the truck ban policy being implemented in Manila which bans eight wheelers and vehicles with a gross weight of above 4,500 kilograms from plying the city’s streets between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Following a dialogue, the city government agreed to allow them to ply their routes during the window period of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but for just two weeks.
Domingo further stressed that the move to increase hauling charges exorbitantly would have a long-term negative impact on the economy.
“This will make the country less competitive … This is like shooting ourselves in the foot. We’re doing everything to make ourselves more competitive then here comes the hike in hauling rates which, I think, is counterproductive at the least and could be severely damaging at worst,” he said.
A DTI fact-finding team created to look into the matter is expected to come out with the results next month. If there is enough basis for possible collusion and anticompetitive behavior among the trucking groups, the results will be turned over to the Department of Justice for investigation.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.