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Hike in prices of goods feared with Batangas port fee increase

/ 05:27 AM June 30, 2017

Prices of consumer goods like flour, pork and chicken are likely to jack up with the proposed 25-percent increase in the cargo handling tariff for international containerized cargo at the Batangas Container Terminal, importers and port stockholders have warned.

At a recent public hearing at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in Manila, Transportation Assistant Secretary for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez admitted that the planned adjustment, which is being evaluated by a technical working group of the PPA, would increase the prices of consumer goods.

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Buyers of motorcycles will also be affected since importers would pass the cost of the increase to consumers, Fernie Casiño of Suzuki Motorcycle Industries, also warned, according to the minutes of the meeting.

“This will impact on the regular Juan dela Cruz. The increase is too big for the ordinary layman,” he said.

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A PPA technical working group had earlier approved a hefty increase in cargo handling tariff for the Manila North Harbor Port Inc. (MNHPI) despite the opposition of stakeholders, who cited the adjustment’s adverse effects on consumers as well as on government efforts to improve business competitiveness.

The PPA board last week gave the green light for MNHPI’s request for 24 percent tariff increase which will be implemented in three tranches.

Clients of the Batangas terminal have rejected the argument made by the operator of the facility, Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), that the adjustment is a “cost recovery measure” since the port terminal’s profit actually increased last year.

Freddie Naagas, president of 101 Supply Chain Solutions Inc., said if the proposed tariff hike is approved, it would force cargo owners to move their operations to Manila.

“The freight in Batangas would be higher. Cargo owners and truckers would rather use Manila than Batangas,” Naagas said.

JG Summit Petrochemical Corp. (JGSPC) assistant manager Sarlie Trinos, for her part, said while they understand the need to adjust the tariff to cover maintenance and provide additional equipment, a 25 percent hike is “really high.”

“The increase should be lower or at least minimal. JGSPC has about 450 containers a month, and with the increase and in case there will be no improvement, we will opt to use Manila,” Trinos said.

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MCC Transport/Maersk raised through JR Dayco the issue that ATI enjoyed an increase in volume since 2013.

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