Manila North Harbor Port Inc. said it is open to a gradual tariff increase after shipping operators and consumer groups opposed the petition before the Philippine Ports Authority.
“Our original submission was 37 percent increase, PPA has to decide if that’s fair or not or whatever increase they wanted. It might be approved in two [tranches]. Let say in October 1st they grant x percent and six months later the balance for that. We’re open to that,” MNHPI chief executive Richard Barclay said.
MNHPI under a concession agreement is to increase tariff every two years.
“But it’s already 6 to 9 months over. We are still awaiting for the PPA go give us the feedback form all the position papers submitted,” Barclay said.
Elvira Medina, president of the National Center for Commuters Safety and Protection, had said that the port tariff increase was “unjustified” because of MNHPI’s monopoly in the domestic shipping market.
“It will have a heavy impact on the public, not just on cost of freight and consumer goods but also on petroleum products, which eventually will jack up transportation costs,” Medina said.
The Philippine Inter-Island Shipping Association and the Philippine Liner Shipping Association rejected the cargo-handling tariff increase as it could increase consumer goods.
Barclay refuted the claim of the oppositors, noting that the company invested P11 billion to modernize the Manila North Harbor, which includes the modernization of passenger terminal and other facilities, acquisition of heavy equipment and dredging operation equipment.
MNHPI, which is now majority owned by San Miguel Corp., won the 25-year contract to manage, develop and operate the 52-hectare seaport terminal.
San Miguel earlier acquired a majority interest in MNHPI after San Miguel Holdings Corp. subscribed to and fully paid for 13 million common shares, resulting in SMHC owning a 43.33-percent equity interest in MNHPI. Along with a 35-percent held by San Miguel-owned Petron Corp., the conglomerate as a group now controls a 78.33-percent interest in the port terminal company.
The port operator also asked the PPA to allow it to handle foreign cargoes pursuant under R.A. 10688, or the Cabotage Act Amendments, and the applicable orders of the Bureau of Customs.
But PPA on June 21 issued a memorandum prohibiting MNHPI from providing terminal services to foreign vessels at the Manila North Harbor due to the contractual limitation of MNHPI.