India has begun to phase out archaic shipping rules and procedures in earnest, Director-General of Shipping Deepak Shetty told the INMEX SMM India 2015 Conference in Mumbai on 23 September. The country is keen to improve its image in terms of making it easy to establish and run businesses, Shetty said adding that as many as 13 provisions deemed unnecessary have been struck down.
“The Directorate-General of Shipping will be acting more as a facilitator than a regulator,” Shetty stressed.
Steps in this direction include the provision of a one-time licence for the life cycle of a vessel and decentralisation of licensing, under which six more centres have been opened against the earlier practice of handing out licences from the DG headquarters in Mumbai.
Speaking to IHS Maritime on the sidelines, Shetty, however, ruled out removal of cabotage restrictions.
“We have relaxed these restrictions selectively, but in the interests of the growth of the domestic merchant shipping fleet coastal cargo must be reserved for national tonnage,” he emphasised referring to demands by ports seeking to attract transshipment cargo to enable foreign container lines to operate on the Indian coast.
“Also in times of emergency the country should be able to muster sufficient merchant ships to move cargo,” Shetty pointed out.
As reported in IHS Maritime India has exempted foreign ro-ro ships and project cargo vessels from cabotage restrictions. However, Captain Gur Prasad Kohli, managing director, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (India) pointed out during a panel discussion that the fuel subsidy given to Indian car carriers were not applicable to foreign vessels.
“Therefore foreign ships cannot be competitive. So opening up the Indian coast to foreign ro-ro vessels is meaningless,” he observed.