MANILA — A Central Luzon lawmaker is seeking a congressional inquiry into the petition of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) for a 15 percent average increase in toll rates in the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), which the solon warned will impact negatively on the cost of goods transported through the expressway such as rice, meat and other commodities.
Rep. Gavini C. Pancho (2nd District, Bulacan) said the State, through the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), supports the policy that any toll rate increases to be imposed must be just and reasonable, and should follow the procedures set by law, such as the conduct of public hearings and consultations, before being implemented.
“The MNTC has not yet complied fully with such requirements and similarly presents no justifiable basis at this time to seek an increase in toll rates at the NLEX, thereby rendering such request as inimical to the interest of the riding public and the business community who use the NLEX for their livelihood,” said Pancho.
In House Resolution 1653, the lawmaker sought an inquiry into MNTC’s toll rate hike petition and called on the company to submit to the House of Representatives and to the solon’s office any study the agency has done as basis for applying for a 15 percent average toll rate increase for the NLEX.
Pancho, a vice chairman of the House Committee on Cooperatives Development, said the ongoing industrialization and improving economy of Bulacan and other provinces towards the country’s northern corridor have resulted in greater migration, a rise in the number of factories and other business establishments. The developments also resulted in a growing local population along said areas and an increased production, flow and transportation of goods along the NLEX according to him.
Whereas, he said the MNTC which manages the NLEX reported posting a Php 1.82 billion, or six-percent increase in its net profit, in the first nine months of 2014 due to the significant rise in the traffic of vehicles passing through the NLEX.
The MNTC has filed a formal request with the TRB for a 15 percent average increase in toll rates in the NLEX, which it seeks to implement this January 2015.
Earlier, MNTC President Rodrigo Franco justified their toll rate petition, saying the increase is long overdue as the fees being charged today are cheaper than when the MNTC began operating the NLEX in 2005.
He cited that the MNTC originally charged Php 42 (USD 0.93) per entry for the open system and Php 2.48 (USD 0.055)/km for the closed system. The MNTC is now charging motorists Php 45 (USD 1) per entry. Minus the value added tax (VAT), the toll is only Php 41 (USD 0.91) per entry for the open system and Php 2.38 (USD 0.053)/km for the closed system.