SINGAPORE - With shipping companies firmly in cost-saving mode, Singapore is extending more goodies to make sure its business environment and port remains "conducive" for maritime companies and vessel calls.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew on Thursday announced a change in Singapore's port dues structure that will save the shipping industry $11 million a year.
In addition, Singapore will be more generous to Singapore-flagged or Singapore-bound ships that use green technology or clean fuels, going some way to soothe the financial anxiety of cost-conscious shipping companies.
"I know that in these challenging times we all face in the maritime sector, this is something that we in Singapore and at MPA can do to help you along," said Mr Lui at the Singapore International Maritime Awards dinner on Thursday.
From July 1, more than 80 per cent of vessels calling in Singapore will pay less port dues, the fees that entitles them to enter, use and leave the Port of Singapore.
Last year, over 130,000 ships called at the Port of Singapore. Seven per cent of these vessels will pay more under the new structure, which Mr Lui said will be announced by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore in due course.
"I am pleased that the MPA has taken note of our industry's feedback to simplify the port dues tariff structure. Given the challenges faced by the shipping community, any cost savings is certainly welcomed," said Patrick Phoon, the president of the Singapore Shipping Association.
Singapore will also begin extending more generous rebates on fee reductions to ships under the $100 million Singapore Maritime Green Initiative. Shipping companies worldwide have been hit by stricter environment regulations requiring expensive equipment upgrades or retrofits during a time when they are less able to afford them because of a prolonged shipping downturn.
For instance, Singapore will begin giving discounts to Singapore-flagged ships using approved SOx scrubber technology - which removes pollutive sulphur content that exceed the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) emissions standards.
They get 25 per cent off their initial registration fees and 20 per cent annual tonnage tax. And a ship that burns clean fuel or uses approved abatement technology during its entire port stay will see their port dues slashed by 25 per cent, instead of their current 15 per cent.
Mr Lui made clear that a recent enhancement to the Maritime Sector Initiative, a suite of comprehensive tax incentives given to ship owners, operators and maritime service providers, was aimed at providing "greater fiscal certainty".
The tenure of the MSI was recently increased from 30 years to 40 years. He added the MPA will continue to refine the MSI scheme when necessary to meet changing business needs.
"We will continue to ensure that our environment remains conducive for maritime companies to do business and tap on growth opportunities here in South-east Asia and across Greater Asia," he said.
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