MPIC on toll hike petitions: Taxpayers bear brunt

Chrisee Dela Paz
MPIC on toll hike petitions: Taxpayers bear brunt
When the private concessionaires signed an agreement with the government for the operations and maintenance of the expressways, they were promised a toll increase

MANILA, Philippines – The private concessionaire of Luzon’s major expressways asked the government to come up with a decision for its toll hike petitions as soon as possible – or else, the taxpayers will bear the brunt for subsidizing the promised rate increase.

Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) told the Philippine Stock Exchange last April 6 that its unit Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) filed a notice of arbitration against the government before the UN Commission on International Trade Law in Geneva, seeking a P3-billion compensation for its inaction on its petitions. 

MNTC said the toll rate adjustments were due since January 1, 2013, but the government has not acted on the petitions yet.

“When there is a delay, the claim is settled by the national treasury. In effect, the taxpayers of the Philippines will be subsidizing the users of the service whether it is an expressway or water,” MPIC chief finance officer David Nicol told reporters on the sidelines of a forum in Makati City on Friday, April 8.

“Frankly, I’m hopeful that we can resolve this sooner rather than go the full length of arbitration process, becase the concession mechanisms provide for compensation for delay,” Nicol added.

The TRB is evaluating the bid of the operators of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (CAVITEX) to implement a 15% and 25% hike, respectively, in the fees they collect from motorists.

“It seems that it is in the best interest of everyone if these things can be resolved immediately, rather than dragging it on for the next 12-18 months, and therefore making the claims even bigger. Otherwise, we proceed with the arbitration process overseas,” Nicol said.

Alberto Suansing, consultant for the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), told reporters last month that regulators are having a hard time deciding what a “just and reasonable” fee would be.

It was during its last decision to review the toll hike in 2012 when the Supreme Court added a clause that new rates must be “just and reasonable.”

“They should settle it quickly rather than allowing it to drag on. We’ve been quite patient. It’s a simple contract. It’s not a controversial thing,” Nicol said.

The TRB in December 2014 said in a bid bulletin that the CAVITEX operator has proposed the following hike in toll rates:

  • Class 1 vehicles including cars, jeepneys, pickup trucks, and vans, to P27 from P22;
  • Class 2 vehicles, including two-axle trucks, buses, and vans, to P54 from P44; and,
  • Class 3 vehicles, including trucks and trailers with 3 or more axles, to P81 from P66.

The NLEX operator, meanwhile, has proposed the following rates, exclusive of value-added tax:

  • For open system or per entry: Class 1 should be P46.811343; Class 2 P117.028356; and Class 3 P140.434028; and,
  • For closed system or per kilometer: Class 1 should be P2.741807; Class 2 P6.854518; and Class 3 P8.225422. – 

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