The House of Representatives has vowed to pass a bill that mandates government regulation to stop high shipping rates.
Once signed into law, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday the measure would result in lower costs for importers, and in turn, bring down prices of consumer goods,
Cayetano said that shipping rates being unilaterally imposed by international shipping lines, had become excessive, leading to increases in the costs of imported raw materials and other goods.
At first glance, Cayetano said regulating shipping rates would appear to benefit only local importers. But he said this measure had far-reaching consequences, as high shipping fees force importers to pass on these costs to consumers, leading to higher prices of goods.
“Local producers who import raw materials are forced to pay these exorbitant shipping fees, which jack up their production costs, and, in the process, result in higher prices for domestic consumers,” said Cayetano.
“This will also help the government improve its tax collection capabilities,” the Speaker added.
Among the Speaker’s goals under his “Presyo, Trabaho, Kita” advocacy to help President Rodrigo Duterte fulfill his promise of a safe, secure and comfortable life for every Filipino is to pass laws that will lower prices, generate jobs and raise incomes, especially in the countryside.
He said the House would coordinate with the DTI in crafting a law that will regulate shipping fees. Several bills on the subject had been filed at the Lower House.
At least two bills have been filed at the chamber proposing to regulate and standardize local fees imposed by foreign shipping lines operating in the country.
House Bill 431, filed by Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera, aims to standardize local charges at both the origin and destination imposed by international shipping firms.
HB 4462, authored by Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong, mandates the Maritime Industry Authority to promote fair and transparent destination fees and other shipping charges among freight forwarders and agents of international shipping lines.
The DTI had earlier planned to issue a Joint Administrative Order, together with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Finance, on the regulation of local fees charged by foreign shipping lines, but later decided on asking the President instead to issue an Executive Order on this matter.
But the lack of an enabling law covering the regulation of fees imposed by foreign shipping lines operating in the country prompted the DTI to draft a bill on this concern and submit it later to Congress to give more teeth to the measure.