THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is seeking an audience with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to push for the creation of an inter-agency task force to police or regulate supposedly hidden fees billed by international carriers.
PPA has already forwarded a letter to the DTI and the Office of the President for the issuance of an executive order creating a task force to determine the extent of hidden fees collected by international carriers.
The supposed hidden fees are the terminal handling charge, bill of lading fee, container cleaning fee and the facilities administration recovery fee. Based on Philippine Shippers’ Bureau records, the THC alone has cost Philippine shippers approximately $130 million to $200 million per year.
PPA assistant general manager for corporate affairs and special projects Raul Santos claimed the hidden charges jack up freight cost by 30% to 40%.
The proposed task force will comprise representatives from the DTI, PPA, Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority and the private sector.
The PPA said the creation of the task force is the most practical solution in helping the ailing export sector, and not suspension of the wharfage fee as earlier proposed by the DTI.
Santos said scrapping the P250 to P500 per container wharfage fee will do little in arresting exporters’ woes considering the strength of the peso.
“The export wharfage fee has only a minimal impact on the entire shipping cost compared to the ease we could get once these (hidden) shipping line charges are reduced if not eliminated,” Santos explained, noting the move will also invigorate the import sector.
DTI wants the wharfage fee suspended at least for the next six months to aid exporters hurting from the strong Philippine peso. In addition, the department is looking at a 5% lower trucking rate for the same period. The DTI is now working with different trucking groups such as the 500-member Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines to determine measures to cushion the impact of lower trucking rates.
“We are suggesting the creation of an inter-agency task force through an EO to control these rates levied by international carriers and to do away with legal impediments in the suspension of the wharfage fee,” Santos stressed.
“What we feel is that the President is the only one authorized to increase or reduce our charges but not to suspend it,” he added.