The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) held a public hearing on its proposal for a new toll structure, set to enter into force in April 2016, once the expanded canal begins operation.
“The public hearing is a very important step in this process. We want to ensure that the new toll structure is appropriately informed by all interested parties and that once approved, it is reflective of the Canal’s value and our efforts to continually improve its service responsiveness while charging a fair market price,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Jorge L. Quijano.
Commenting on the proposal the Japanese Shipowners Association (JSA) said that the toll rates for ships that would not benefit from the expansion should not be raised, adding that ACP should consider expanding loyalty program to other sectors apart from container vessels.
Among other issues raised were details of the charges for using the auxiliary services related to locks, such as tugboats, along with a potential discount for ships carrying empty containers.
ACP said that comments made during the hearing, as well as those shared with the ACP in writing, will be analyzed and taken into consideration before submitting a final proposal for approval by the Canal Board of Directors and the Cabinet Council.
The last tolls modification was put into effect in 2012-2013 for dry bulk vessels, tankers, chemical carriers, gas carriers, vehicle carrier/Roll-on/Roll-off, general cargo and other vessel types segments. Container, reefer and passenger tolls have remained unchanged since 2011.
The proposed restructuring calls for each segment to be priced based upon different units of measurement, while aligning with customers’ needs and requests, and modifying pricing for all Canal segments.
The expansion will open new global shipping routes and allow the transit of non-traditional commodities through the waterway, such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).