Congress to look into PPA, shipping companies over logistics costs 

By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, Reporter
and Beatriz Marie D. Cruz 

A SENATOR has filed a resolution seeking to probe, in aid of legislation, orders issued by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) that supposedly led to excessiverise in port fees.

These administrative orders are causing distress not only to the shipping operators but also to ordinary consumers,Senator Ana Theresia RisaN. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in a statement on Wednesday.  

An increase in shipping costs poses a risk of further raising already burdensome pricing and inflation,she added. This may affect how importers price their products, and in the end, it is the general public who will be hit by the biggest blow.

Senate Resolution 484 cited administrative orders pertaining to the grant of port terminal management contracts to bidders with the highest concession price, the implementation of a Central Ticketing System, and the increase in garbage collection fees. 

It also included the creation of a mechanism for registration and monitoring of containers entering and exiting ports.

The Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association, the largest shipping association in the country, has said that these policies have caused an increase in port charges within the country (by) as much as 2,000%, thus increasing domestic logistics costs to the detriment of the public. 

PPA Department Manager Mark Jon S. Palomar, on the other hand, told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of a House committee meeting that their fees were not excessive nor comprise a large part of total cargo logistics expenses. 

What weve been saying is, were talking about the total logistics cost… only the port dues, port rates are regulated,he said.

In the total logistics cost, the contribution of port dues is less than 5%, so its effect on the total logistics cost is not that significant,he added.

Under the resolution, Ms. Hontiveros said that the direct charges for registration and monitoring of containers in the ports such as insurance, transaction, and transportation fees, would raise import prices by over 50%. 

An efficient maritime transport network is of critical importance to our economy. Even the National Economic and Development Authority recognized that shipping costs are too high and they are a threat to national development,Ms. Hontiveros said. 

At the House of Representatives, the committee on Metro Manila development has created a technical working group to further study the charges being imposed by international shipping lines and how these can be regulated under Philippine laws.  

The move came after Quezon City Rep. Marvin D. Rillo told the panel that he has copies of documents showing the different fees collected by international shipping lines.  

He revealed that one international shipping line had 25 hidden charges, while another company would collect an average of $1,600 for various fees.  

Each shipping line has its own charges that are too much theres a banker fee, cleaning charge, he said, adding that Congress should pass measures regulating these fees.  

It is but high time that we enact a law that would really tell these shipping lines the rightful charges that must be charged to consumers,Mr. Rillo said, noting that the burden of excessive fees will be passed on to consumers.  

Patrick Ronas, president of the Association of International Shipping Lines, told the panel that they stand as representatives of international carriers, and follow the charges dictated by their foreign counterparts.  

They (international shipping lines) have their own costing matrix they come from different factors but thats not for us here as agents to decide,Mr. Ronas told the committee in Filipino.  

He added that as members of Association of International Shipping Lines, were not supposed to compare our pricing because of competition rules or anti-trust in countries abroad and also with the Philippine Competition Commission.