EXPORTS: Complaints About Port Tariffs
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE proposed port tariff increases of nearly 12 percent were excessive, unjustified and could have a devastating effect on exports, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce.
Addressing Riad Kahn, the Ports Regulator, the Chamber said it had been shocked to learn that the Transnet National Ports Authority had requested tariff increases of 11.9 percent for next year, despite the fact that the ports had made a healthy profit last year.
South African port tariffs were already among the highest in the world and the requested increase was well in excess of the inflation rate.
Albert Schuitmaker, Director of the Chamber, said “we fear the new tariffs will be the last straw for many of our exporters who are already suffering in the wake of the world financial crises made worse by the sharp increase in the value of the rand.
“As business we understand that costs go up every year, but we have to find ways to manage increases and improve efficiencies. We know that in difficult times extraordinary measures are sometimes required and many companies in the private sector have had to reduce margins, freeze wages, work short hours and even reduce staff in a bid to survive.”
He said the aim of the Ports Authority should be to reduce tariffs to bring them into line with those of comparable ports in other parts of the world.
“Simply increasing tariffs year after year is not acceptable, and when the increase sought is double the inflation rate it becomes clear that something is very wrong,” said Mr Schuitmaker
“The Ports Authority is a public sector monopoly and, as such, it is free of the restraints and discipline imposed by the kind of competition to which any normal South African company is subject. We feel that the only yardstick by which the reasonableness of present application can be judged is a comparison with the port tariffs in a selection of other countries in both the developed and the developing world.
Schuitmaker quoted the vision set out in the national commercial ports policy which stated that “South Africa’s commercial ports system should be globally competitive, safe and secure, operating at internationally accepted levels of operational efficiency consistent with the goals and objectives of the Government’s macroeconomic strategies. The commercial ports system must serve the economy and meet the needs of the port users in a manner which is economically and environmentally sustainable.”
He said the proposed increases were excessive and likely to be counter-productive. “We urge
Transnet to rethink its proposed increases in much the same way as any private sector company operating in a competitive environment would have to do. We ask the Ports Regulator to adjust the proposed increase accordingly.”
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