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ACP Holds Public Hearing On Planned Price Changes

by Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington

21 March 2007


The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) last week held a public hearing in the Ascanio Arosemena Auditorium in Balboa, Panama, on its proposal to restructure the Panama Canal's pricing system and certain regulations. Fourteen representatives from shipping and government participated in the meeting.

"Today, Panama Canal customers and members of the maritime industry were welcomed to participate in a unique, transparent and open process," announced ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

He added:

"This process, where customers participate as we set new rates, is rare in the business world. We will seriously study the comments made today, as well as the written submissions."

Throughout the consultation period (February 2, 2007 - March 12, 2007), the proposal was made available to all interested parties. The ACP received a total of 21 written submissions, in both English and Spanish, from individuals and groups.

Prior to the proposal's announcement, informal consultations were conducted by the ACP with customers and the maritime industry to listen and receive their input.

The ACP's Board of Directors will review the comments received during the official consultation period and will submit its recommendation to the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama for approval in the coming weeks.

Significant elements of the planned changes include:

  • Maximum Displacement Draft vs. Arrival Draft: The ACP is proposing a change for vessels charged based on their displacement to simplify and streamline the process. The Canal proposes that the charge is based upon the maximum displacement draft instead of the arrival draft to assess tolls according to the specified tonnage rate.
  • Administrative Changes: Some administrative changes have been made, but these changes will have no economic impact whatsoever. These revisions provide necessary linguistic and grammatical clarifications to the document or reinsert missing words to processes and procedures.
  • Passenger Vessels: Regarding passenger vessels, the ACP is proposing an assessment of tolls based on maximum passenger capacity. In general, under this change, large vessels will be charged tolls on a per berth basis, and smaller ships will continue under the Canal tonnage tolls system. These changes are largely due to suggestions from industry representatives and evidence another example of the ACP listening to the industry.
  • Tolls: The adjustments and implementation dates of proposed tolls depend on each segment that transits the Canal: container vessels, passenger vessels, general cargo, refrigerated cargo, dry bulk, tankers and vehicle carriers. The proposal calls for an average increase of 10% per year over three years. Of note, tolls for non-container segments have not increased in the last four years.


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