Shippers, bunker firms lobby against rate rise.
Philippine bunker suppliers and shipping firms have lobbied against a rise in service fee at Manila North Harbour by an incoming operator. Shipping firms have warned of higher freight and passenger rates while bunker suppliers have cautioned of a rise in bunkering costs if Manila North Harbour Port, Inc. (MNHPI) is allowed to impose the fee.
The fee, equivalent to 5% of service providers' revenues, would apply mainly to companies that offer bunkering services for ships at the harbour, according to the Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA).
That would mean an automatic 5% hike in their service costs, the PLSA said in a letter to the Department of Transportation and Communications.
The group stated that the fee on bunkering and other services should be removed because "of its economic impact on port users directly and the general public".
The PLSA went on: "The biggest cost factor of shipping is the fuel cost and most, if not all, our members refuel at the North Harbour in order to avail [themselves] of the lower cost of fuel in Manila.
"This provision will have an impact on shipping operation costs and subsequently, on freight and passenger fares," the group added.
"Many companies are complaining about this fee," Fil R Santos, general manager of Marine Fuels Philippines, Inc., told Bunkerworld.
"MNHPI was supposed to takeover North Harbour a week ago, but it has been postponed for another 30 days, and I don't think the fee will be imposed anymore," he said.
The fee was one of the issues raised by stakeholders, and it subsequently resulted in the delay in MNHPI's takeover of the harbour.
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the harbour's current operator, said MNHPI had agreed to suspend the imposition of the fee.
But the PLSA added this would not stop MNHPI from reimposing the fee once it formally takes over the harbour's operation.
Separately, the PLSA has threatened to boycott the harbour and move to other terminals in the area if the docking fees at Manila North Harbour become too expensive.