BUSINESSES have called on the President to order the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to exercise its regulatory authority over shipping companies and clamp down on “exorbitant destination charges.”
In an open letter to President Rodrigo R. Duterte published in a newspaper on Wednesday, the Port Users Confederation of the Philippines, Inc. (PUCP) said it wants MARINA to be in charge of streamlining the fee structures of international shipping companies.
“We… recommend that an Executive or Administrative Order be issued authorizing MARINA to register and accredit local agents of international shipping lines and other similar enterprises, and strengthening its regulatory and supervisory functions, including the vetting of all shipping charges,” it said.
The PUCP said agents of international shipping lines are imposing “destination charges,” which are sometimes as high as 50 times the actual freight rate.
“These charges… escalate import costs of countless products, which Filipino consumers and businesses ultimately bear. This imposes hardship on families, and erodes the earnings and competitiveness of our enterprises,” it said.
These fees include container deposits, container cleaning fees, terminal handling costs and document fees, which the PUCP said requires review and rationalization from the MARINA.
“It is our humble opinion that MARINA can undertake regulation of the local agents of international shipping lines in order to streamline public services and remove excessive fees burdening consumers and businesses,” noting that shipping and freight forwarding agencies, including similar enterprises, fall under the jurisdiction of the agency.
MARINA was asked for comment on the group’s letter but had not provided any at deadline time.
Among the signatories in the PUCP’s letter are the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport); Federation of Customs Brokerage Companies of the Philippines (FCBC) and Philippines Integrated Exporters, Inc. (PIE). — Denise A. Valdez