Port firms seek relief from ‘oppressive’ charges

Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An umbrella organization of companies operating at the country’s seaports are seeking President Duterte’s intervention to get relief from what it described as “unregulated and oppressive charges” imposed on its members even during the pandemic.

The Port Users Confederation of the Philippines (PUCP) said on Thursday that it filed a test case in September before the Shippers’ Protection Office (SPO), created by the Department of Transportation in June, to address its concerns that the charges remain unchecked over the past two decades.

The group said its biggest problems are the unabated collection of demurrage and detention charges and container deposits by foreign shipping lines and their local agents.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) continues to impose storage charges and penalties, unmindful that the cargo delays were basically caused by the pandemic and beyond the control of the consignees and other industry players such as the cargo owners, brokers, logistics firms, and manufacturers, PUCP said.

In its complaint, the PUCP urged the SPO to issue an order prohibiting the shipping companies from collecting allegedly baseless and exorbitant destination charges such as container deposit, peak season surcharge, congestion fee, and emergency cost recovery fee, terminal handling fee, container imbalance charges and container cleaning fee.

PUCP also sought an order requiring shipping lines to secure prior approval from concerned government agencies to impose any charges or fees.

The SPO has yet to release a decision on the case, PUCP said.

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