Review of tax benefits for Indian Seafarers by National Shipping Board (NSB). The Hindu Business Line reports that one of the industry’s longstanding demands, that seafarers working on Indian ships be granted the same tax benefits as those working abroad, is being revisited by the NSB. This was disclosed at the 113th meeting of the NSB, an organisation setup to advise the Shipping Ministry. Led by Capt P.V.K. Mohan, Chairman, other NSB members include Capt Subhash Kumar, Chairman, Chennai Port Trust, and Capt Harish Khatri, Deputy Director General of Shipping (Tech). Capt. Mohan says that the issue will be taken up again with the Ministries of Shipping and Finance.
Seafarers working on foreign ships have not had to pay any income tax provided they stayed out of the country for 182 days each financial year. This always put them in a comparative advantage over Indian seafarers, who were liable for tax since they sailed on Indian registered tonnage. With alarming figures of officer shortages projected in the future and with seafarers from the country preferring to work on foreign ships partly because of the tax advantage, this is a step that is long overdue, and, if approved, will contribute greatly to the retention of officers for the Indian fleet.
The NSB’s agenda also included a proposal to ban ships more than 25 years old from entering Indian waters, and a plan to have fishing harbours located away from major ports. Vizag’s fishing harbour is the first one in the spotlight, and, if moved, will become a model that can be adopted at other ports. Most fishing harbours in the country are located close to major ports, a fact that is seen as a major security threat in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Was the Shen Neng I Chief Officer asleep when she ran aground on a World Heritage Site? Australian authorities have suggested that the first mate on the Chinese Ship may have been dozing when she ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, Tradewinds reports. Federal authorities are now interviewing the crew and examining AIS data. The Shen Neng 1 ran aground at full speed in the protected area without a pilot. The incident had the Chinese government apologising to the Australians, who were livid when they found out that the Ship’s Captain had taken a short cut through a prohibited area and was 15 miles away from where he was supposed to be. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that Captain Wang Jichang could face jail if he is found to have breached any laws, and that the ship’s owner (Shenzhen Energy, not COSCO as reported widely earlier) could be fined up to USD 5 million. Salvage experts are concerned that the ship is still working against the reef, and are trying hard to prevent the ship breaking up; they say that the ship has suffered severe damage to some of its tanks and is leaking oil. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the world; the UN declared the area a World Heritage Site in 1981, along with the Galapagos Islands and the pyramids of Egypt.
Paradip Port handles record traffic. Paradip Port Trust (PPT) Chairman K. Raghuramaiah declared last week that the PPT registered a 22.84% growth in the current year, handling a record 57.01 million tons in 2009-10 fiscal. The figures are particularly impressive given the global economic meltdown and the consequent sluggish recovery. “The 57.01 million tons of traffic, handled during 2009-10, is a record surpassing the previous year's record of 46.41 million tons,” the PPT chairman told a press conference. “Paradip Port achieved the highest growth rate amongst all the major ports in handling of traffic during 2009-10. Its position improved to fifth from earlier eighth among major ports in terms of volume of traffic handled,” he added. PPT has generated an operating income of Rs 786.41 crore this year against Rs 696.71 crore in 2008-09. Expenditure stands at Rs 409.17 crore against Rs 358.17 crore last year.
In the next two years, PPT plans to increase capacity to 135 million ton per annum [MTPA] from the current 76 MTPA. A project report for the construction of a new dock system for building six berths has been started. The Rs 2,000 crore project is in addition to plans for the 800 crore construction of an island breakwater with berths on the lee side.