Shipowners demand PPA fee review, cite 'indirect taxation'

Shipowners demand PPA fee review, cite 'indirect taxation'
SunStar Local News GPX

VARIOUS shipowners have urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to look into and review “exorbitant” fees collected by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), stressing its ripple effect on the prices of goods shipped across the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

Lucio Roger Lim Jr., chairman of the Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association (PCSA), told reporters on Friday, April 19, 2024, that he brought up the concern with Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, who was in Cebu for the PCSA’s General Membership Meeting held at the Fili Hotel in Nustar Cebu.

Bautista is the chairman of the PPA’s board of directors.

Lim said the PPA collects high cargo handling/stevedoring fees and garbage collection fees from shipowners each time they dock at PPA-controlled ports.

Stevedoring charges are fees collected for loading and stowing or unloading a ship.

According to data provided by the PCSA, as per PPA Administrative Order 10-2019, PPA collects cargo handling fees for general cargo shipment rates at P489 (palletized) and P543 (non-palletized), compared to the previous rates of P12.75 (palletized) and P18.10 (non-palletized) per cubic meter or metric ton.

Lim said shipowners raised this concern with the PPA for some time but received no response. As a result, they met with the DOTr secretary last Friday.

For consumer goods, such as rice, corn, flour, sugar and milk, PPA collects rates of P117 (palletized) and P130 (non-palletized), in contrast to the previous rates of P12.75 (palletized) and P18.10 (non-palletized) per cubic meter or metric ton.

“According to our lawyers, they constitute almost indirect taxation on the people. Can you imagine that our cargo handling rates before, which only constituted 20 percent (of) maybe the freight rate of the ship, (now) it’s almost equivalent to a freight rate,” Lim said.

Lim said the PPA collected this fee at the ports of Ormoc, Tagbilaran, Zamboanga, Ozamiz, Tacloban, Dapitan, Nasipit, Legazpi and Surigao, among others.

Garbage collection fee

He added that every time a ship docked at a PPA-controlled port, its clearance to depart would not be released if it could not pay the garbage collection fee of around P500-P2,000, depending on the ship tonnage.

Lim said this is disadvantageous to passenger or cargo ships that have less garbage collection on board the vessel and have multiple port calls in a PPA-controlled port in a single day.

He said the waste can be stored in the ship, which can be disposed of at the end of the day, instead of disposing every time the ship docks.

He said the PPA hired a third-party service provider to collect the garbage and the fees; however, most of these service providers allegedly lack permits and designated dumpsites for disposing of the waste they collect.

Moreover, during the forum, Transportation Undersecretary for Maritime Elmer Francisco Sarmiento said the PPA told him that if a shipowner declines to pay for garbage collection fee, it is assumed that the waste is disposed of in the sea.

Lim also pointed out that the fees charged by the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) were much lower, up to 25 percent less than the cargo handling rates of the PPA.

He said the CPA does not impose separate charges for garbage collection as these are already included in the usage fee.

Due to these high fees, Lim said that it could lead to the legislative proposal of extending the coverage of the CPA to other provinces, while legislators on Negros Island are considering establishing an independent port authority.

In response, Bautista assured the PCSA’s members that he would raise these concerns, particularly on the legal aspects of the policies, during their next board meeting.

The PCSA is the largest shipping association in the Philippines and the biggest in terms of total gross tonnage of ships combined. It represents 50 members with more than 600 vessels from small to medium in size.


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