Proposed toll hikes have minimal impact on inflation

By Aerol John Pateña

October 23, 2018, 6:58 pm

MANILA -- Tollways operator Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) on Tuesday assured that its proposed toll increases will only cause minimal impact on the country's inflation rate.

“Any adjustments will have impact but we have implemented measures that will mitigate or lessen the impact especially on the socially sensitive sectors,” MPTC president Rodrigo Franco said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the launching of the company's motorist assistance program in Quezon City for the All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day break.

The MPTC plans to implement toll hikes on a staggered basis and has submitted a proposal that will exempt delivery trucks to mitigate its impact on consumers.

The MPTC has submitted three petitions, currently pending before the Toll Regulatory Board, seeking for a 21 percent increase in tolls.

The first petition was filed in 2012, the second in 2014 and the latest was submitted in 2016.

“The maximum increase would be 21 percent. It will really depend on how much will be approved by the regulator and what is the scheme for its implementation,” Franco said.

“In case, this is approved, the adjustments will be done for a period of several years,” he added.

The initial tranche will be an increase of 10 percent, which will be implemented on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

The MPTC expects that the toll hikes will enable them to recoup compensation claims for NLEX and the Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX), which amounted to around PHP9 billion.

This will also provide funding for ongoing improvements and expansion projects across its toll roads.

The MPTC earlier disclosed that it will spend around PHP123 billion on new toll road projects over the next five years, which include the Cavite Laguna Expressway, NLEX and South Luzon Expressway connector road and the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway.

Last August, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade urged the MPTC to drop its arbitration case against the government to recover its compensation claims and to implement its proposed fare hike on a staggered basis to mitigate its impact on motorists.

Tugade said settling the arbitration case would be too expensive for the government and it is more feasible to gradually implement the toll hikes.

Franco, on the other hand, said the company is open to terminating the arbitration case.

The MPTC, through its subsidiary NLEX Corp., filed last April 2016 a notice of arbitration for around PHP3 billion in compensation for toll adjustments due to take effect on NLEX in January 2013 and January 2015.

Meanwhile, Cavite Infrastructure Corporation, also filed a notice of arbitration and statement of claim against the government to obtain PHP877 million in compensation for its supposed inaction over toll hike petitions due since Jan. 1, 2012; Jan. 1, 2014; and Jan. 1, 2015.

The arbitration case against the government has now amounted to more than PHP7.5 billion equivalent to foregone revenues of the MPTC.

The MPTC, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, holds the concession for the operations and maintenance of NLEX, CAVITEX and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. (PNA)