THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said it is open to reviewing the practice of collecting weighbridge fees for inter-island cargo and passenger vehicles after Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo proposed to eliminate the fees, but added that it needs some way to fund its investments in port facilities.
“In so far as the weighbridge fees are concerned, we are willing to revisit and re-evaluate the current system being implemented in the ports. PPA is willing to shoulder the cost of the weighbridge and PPA is willing to not collect weighbridge fees,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said during a House Transportation Committee technical working group hearing on Tuesday.
“However there must be some cost recovery mechanism by which PPA should be able to recover the cost of that facility.”
The TWG, chaired by Bukidnon-3rd district Representative Manuel F. Zubiri, was hearing testimony on the improvement of the Roll On-Roll Off (Ro-Ro) System, particularly addressing high shipping costs. The Speaker had proposed in a hearing conducted in Leyte on March 5 to stop charging weighbridge fees to ease the burden on users, who include bus passengers traveling inter-island on the Ro-Ro system.
Mr. Santiago argued the PPA, as a “self revenue generating agency,” does not receive allocations from the annual General Appropriations Act.
“If we take out the charges being assessed by the PPA against all the port users we will have no source of revenue to be able to develop or continue developing, repairing or maintaining all of these ports, which will be more detrimental to the riding public,” he told the panel.
He added that the PPA charge only constitutes about 2% of the total shipping cost.
“Even if we remove the 2%, we will still be left with 98% of the current charges.”
The panel will also look into truck cargo rates for possible adjustment with the overall intent of reducing shipping costs, after learning that the PPA charges only P516 for type 4 vehicles, including 10-wheeler trucks and buses and the like.
“The trucking rate… from Leyte to Manila ranges from P100,000 to P150,000, one-way,” Alberto Suansing of the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines 9 (CTAP) said.
“The PPA and shipping charges are minor. The really big cost is trucking. But we don’t know how to unbundle the trucking charge. Of course you have to consider (the trucking company’s) fuel and labor costs,” Transportation Committee chair Cesar V. Sarmiento, the Representative for Catanduanes, said. He asked CTAP to submit a report on current truck cargo rates. — Charmaine A. Tadalan