Indian shipping needs a fund backed by the government to spur growth of the country’s merchant fleet, David Rasquinha, deputy managing director of Export-Import Bank of India, has told the INMEX-SMM Conference in Mumbai.
Indian-flagged ships carry barely 10% of the total export-import cargo of the country and the share is even less (7-8%) for Indian-built ships.
While Exim Bank finances shipbuilding projects, it has a broad portfolio and is not a specialist lender to the shipping industry.
The economic downturn has hit Indian shipbuilders hard but, Rasquinha argued during a panel discussion, some of them only had themselves to blame for their debt woes. He later clarified to IHS Maritime that “they mismanaged the funds, took on more orders than they could handle and even diverted part or all of the money borrowed for building vessels”. He declined to name any particular examples.
Some of the smaller yards, however, have prospered.
“The economic downturn is a business opportunity. We have been able to cash in by building quality ships at low prices,” Suraj Dialani, business head of Vijai Marine Shipyards, said. “The downturn will not last forever. This is the best time to order.”
Vijai Marine has so far delivered 75 vessels and claims to have built India’s first river-sea vessel.