Port operator Asian Terminals Inc. and its unit, ATI Batangas Inc., are proposing a 15.23% increase in cargo-handling tariff and other cargo-handling related and miscellaneous charges at Batangas Port
ATI said the petition has “relatively marginal” impact on cost of goods and commodities
Shipping associations oppose the proposal, citing its adverse impact on their business and clients amid the pandemic
Port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) and its unit, ATI Batangas Inc., are proposing a 15.23% increase in the cargo-handling tariff at Batangas Port.
ATI in February 2021 filed separate petitions for the upward adjustment in cargo-handling tariff and other cargo-handling related and miscellaneous charges covering Batangas Port Phase 1 and 2, ATI assistant vice president for business development Edward Ian Baking said at a virtual public hearing hosted by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) on May 7.
The petitions exclude empty container handling, rates for which took effect last January.
Phase 1 handles passenger, roll-on/roll-off, and bulk cargoes, while Phase 2, also called the Batangas Container Terminal, serves international containerized cargoes.
The petitioners referenced in their filing Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Administrative Order (AO) No. 02-2018, which prescribes a new standard and uniform formula and procedures for cargo-handling tariff adjustment.
Under AO 02-2018, which took effect in March 2018, the cargo-handling/terminal operator may apply for a cargo-handling tariff adjustment if the consumer price index (CPI) has increased by at least 5% within a three-year period.
CPI, computed and provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority, is a statistical measure of the average retail pricing of goods and services commonly purchased by a particular group of people in a particular area.
Baking, in a presentation during the public hearing, said CPI had increased in the period 2015 to 2020.
Baking said ATI is also eligible for tariff adjustment after having complied with requirements of AO 02-2018. In addition, he cited investments made—as part of ATI’s concession—from 2017 to 2020 totaling P5.34 billion to improve infrastructure and operations at both phases, as well as ATI’s ongoing and future projects for 2021 to 2023 that total an estimated P5.41 billion.
The last cargo-handling tariff rate adjustment for Phase 1 and 2 was implemented in 2017, when PPA granted an 11% increase for Phase 1 and a 9% upward adjustment for Phase 2.
Proposed rate increases
Baking said the proposal for Phase 1 would mean:
- Stevedoring rate for a 20-foot laden domestic container would be P362.41 from the current P314.50
- Arrastre for a 20-footer laden domestic container would be P1,197.28 from the current P1,0039
- Stevedoring for a foreign general cargo would be P86.09 per registered tonnage (RT) (non-palletized) from the current P77.85, and P60.88 per RT (palletized) from the current P55.05
- Arrastre for foreign general cargo would be P142.04 (non-palletized) from the current P128.45, and P111.30 (palletized) from the current P100.65.
Phase 2 adjustments:
- Stevedoring for a 20-footer laden container would be P4,476.83 from the current P3,885
- Arrastre for a 20-footer import container would be P4,070.63 from the current P3,532.50
- Truck weighing would be P159.02 from the current P138
Baking said the impact of their petition on the cost of goods and commodities would be “relatively marginal.”
Shipping associations opposed the proposal at the hearing.
Representing the Association of International Shipping Lines, Mariel Metzker said “the country is currently still in a middle of a pandemic” and any cargo-handling rate increase “will impact on the recovery of businesses and hurt our customers.”
Metzker noted the proposed increase comes on the heels of the implementation last January of empty handling charges in Manila and Batangas ports, as well as proposals for hikes in cargo-handling rates in Manila and Subic ports.
The proposed increases, she pointed out, would increase the cost of doing business and “definitely hurt our business and our customers.”
Baking said while they understand the association’s concerns, he noted PPA has policies governing tariff increases and in this case, the proposed upward adjustment is “not looking at the future costs, it’s actually trying to look at previous costs.”
He noted that operating costs have increased since the last tariff increase and ATI has absorbed all those increases.
“It’s not retroactive, it’s a perspective adjustment in tariffs that have been incurred in the past years,” Baking said.
Antonio Calingo, representing the Philippine Ship Agents Association, also manifested the group’s opposition, citing as well the impact of the pandemic.
He noted “a good number” of the association’s customers, whether for containerized cargoes, completely built units, or steel cargoes, “have already suffered more than enough with regard to the stagnant business… including ship agents and shipping lines.”
Calingo requested instead to defer the rate increase for another time.
Stakeholders were given five working days from the conduct of the public hearing to submit their position papers for evaluation by the technical working group. – Roumina Pablo