ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Maritimes Affairs Thursday showed grave concerns over non-registration of new ships, companies since more than two decades.

“No company or ship has been registered in Pakistan except Pakistan National Shipping Cooperation (PNSC) ships because of the wavering policies which is not in favour of the investor,” official of Pakistan National Shipping Cooperation (PNSC) said while briefing Senate Standing Committee on Maritimes Affairs. Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs met under the chairpersonship of Senator Rubina Khalid here to discuss the Pakistan Merchant Marine Policy, 2001, and the amendments made therein in 2019, and to review the budgetary allocation and its utilization by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and its attached departments, during financial year 2022-23.

The Committee showed grave concern on non-registration of new ships or companies since more than two decades. The Senate Committee was apprised that no company or ship has been registered in Pakistan except Pakistan National Shipping Cooperation (PNSC) ships because of the wavering policies which is not in favour of the investor. “Due to changes and inconsistency in policies in terms of tax exemptions, incentives and tax regimes the investor has lost its confidence” the chairman PNSC added. The Committee examined a detailed comparison of the global practices in terms of preferences and incentives. The chairman PNSC was of the opinion that if the polices and regimes become constant and competitive in the global market it will encourage the investors. The Secretary Maritime Affairs said that to resolve the issue of inconsistency in policy and compatibility to that of the global market a revised policy may be devised in relation to the current incentives and feasibility in terms of country’s capacity. The Committee sought brief on the revised policy within a fortnight.

The committee reviewed the budgetary allocation and expenditure for the financial year 2021-22 and its utilization by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs. The Committee sought details on the expenditure made and revenue generated by the departments. The committee also demanded details of the developing budget on Port Qasim and Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and other departments.

The chairperson Committee also sought details on the procurement policy of PNSC. The chairman PNSC informed the committee that on the procurement of new ship a wait and see policy is being applied globally since IMO ship regime will change in 2025 and again by 2030. The chairperson Committee raised question as to why an old ship is being purchased in comparison to a new one. The Ministry informed that there is a financial dynamic behind procuring an old ship instead of a new one and proposed to present a brief on it in the next meeting. The chairman PSNC also informed the committee that the cost of an old ship is 21 million dollars and of a new one is around 55 to 60 million dollars.

While briefing the committee on the Merchant Marine Policy, 2001, the committee was informed that the target of the Merchant Marine Policy is to expand and update Pakistan Flag merchant marine fleet to increase the present share of Cargo from 5pc to 40pc. The committee was informed that no preference will be given to PNSC in private sector cargo. The committee was also informed that amendment in the policy 2019 also includes that no federal taxes (direct or indirect ) shall be levied to the detriment of Pakistan Resident Ship Owing companies during the exemption period and the Pakistan flag vessels to be provided priority berthing at all Pakistan Ports. The committee was also informed of the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs is Rs 1.190b in the financial year 2022-23. The Committee expressed its satisfaction on the budget utilization by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and asked for further details, to be discussed in future meetings.

The meeting was attended by Senator Abida Muhammad Azeem, Mohamad Abdul Qadir, Danesh Kumar, Dost Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Akram, and Senator Saifuallah Abro. The Secretary, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Chairman PNSC and officers of other attached departments were also in attendance