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Port tariff hike scored

By: Betheena Kae Unite

An umbrella group of consumer stakeholders has slammed the cargo handling tariff hike implemented at the Manila North Harbour Port Inc.

The United Filipino Consumers and Commuters said it is “unjustified and would lead to higher cost of goods.”

“Consumers will ultimately bear the brunt of this tariff increase because traders will just pass on the added costs to the public. The public will always be at the losing end,” United Filipino Consumers and Commuters President Rodolfo Javellana Jr. said.

“MNHPI says it wants to upgrade its facilities to justify the tariff increase, but they want consumers to pay for their upgrade. It is as if MNHPI wants to be the only one who benefits from this set up and the technical working group sided with them,” Javellana added.

Javellana bared that the 24 percent tariff hike was approved by the Philippine Ports Authority despite protests from all major clients of MHNPI.

Javellana said San Miguel Corp., which holds majority share of MNHPI through Petron Corp., will enjoy double profits with the tariff adjustment.

“This adjustment serves two purposes: On one hand, tariff increase for MNHPI, and on the other hand, more profit for Petron because of what they claimed to be increases in fuel cost. That is double profit for Petron and a double-whammy for all consumers,” he said.

Javellana said that the “technical working group that recommended the approval of the tariff increase is aware of this.”

“In fact, during the consultations held by the PPA, almost all stakeholders have opposed the plan of MNHPI. Yet PPA still favored the increase,” Javellana said.

Memorandum No. 4 upheld by PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said the upward adjustment will be implemented in three tranches – eight percent this year and eight percent each in 2018 and 2019.

“It is unfair and unjustified for a monopoly like MNHPI to be allowed to impose upward tariff adjustments. Port stakeholders have no choice but to transact business with them,” Javellana lamented.