The Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced that it has published a revised tolls proposal that defers the implementation date of new Canal tolls to October 2012 and October 2013.
The ACP announced in April its intention to adjust tolls to bring them closer to the value of the route for certain market segments, to redefine some segments and to adjust minimum tolls. After a 30-day public consultation period, the ACP conducted a hearing on May 23. The April proposal has been slightly modified. At the request of the industry, implementation of the new charges has been postponed from July 2012 to October 2012, giving the industry additional lead time before implementation of the new tolls as well as providing an additional three months before the second step of increase in 2013. In addition, the revised proposal eliminates the proposed container/breakbulk segment. Container/breakbulk vessels will continue to be classified as part of the segment known as others.
The revised tolls adjustment will apply only to the following market segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro and the segment known as others. Due to this modification, the ACP today is reopening the issue for public comment and will consider additional input, suggestions and feedback from interested parties over the next 15 days.
After receiving comments and feedback from the maritime and shipping industry during its official consultation period, the ACP responded to industry requests by modifying the proposal and postponing implementation of the new pricing. “The Panama Canal is the only organization in the shipping industry that consults with customers and interested parties prior to implementing any modification to its pricing structure. This open and transparent process has given the ACP an opportunity to listen to the needs of its customers and to adjust its proposal accordingly,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.
After the ACP’s Board of Directors reviews the comments received during the 15-day period, it will make a final decision and submit its recommendation to the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama for its final approval.
Prior to this announcement, the ACP held a consultation period (April 18, 2012 – May 21, 2012) and made the proposal available to all interested parties. The ACP received a total of 18 written submissions, in both English and Spanish, from representatives of countries, shipping associations, customers and other interested parties. The consultation period culminated with a public hearing in Panama in which seven representatives from shipping and government expressed their views during an open and transparent process.
The revised proposal increases the number of segments from eight to ten by Panama Canal vessel type. It also breaks down the tanker segment into three distinct segments and incorporates the roll-on/roll-off vessels into the vehicle carrier segment. Once approved, the Panama Canal market segmentation scheme will include the following segments: full container, reefer, dry bulk, passenger, vehicle carrier and ro-ro, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, general cargo and others.
Effective October 1, 2012 and October 1, 2013, respectively, the ACP proposes to increase the tolls for the following segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro, and the segment known as others. The remaining segments -container, reefer and passenger – will not be adjusted at this time, nor will the price per TEU for containers carried onboard a vessel. Additionally, there will be changes to tolls applicable to small vessels based on vessel length, to incorporate adjustments not previously considered.
Dredging Today Staff, June 29, 2012; Image: pancanal