PM promises better maritime performance, nods to new shipping policy

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his approval and hopes from the new shipping policy through a tweet on Saturday. He wrote, “I congratulate Ministry of Maritime Affairs for finalising a new & dynamic Blue Economy policy to revitalise our shipping sector, saving Pakistan valuable Foreign Exchange and creating more employment opportunities for our seafarers. We will ensure that Pakistan fulfills its enormous maritime potential”.

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs announced the country’s new shipping policy a week ago, which brought incentives for the private shipping companies. and exempted the vessels registered in Pakistan from customs duty, income tax, and sales tax till 2030.

“Under the impact of the new shipping policy, we will soon see registration of 3-4 local shipping companies, which will also ensure job security for our seafarers,” Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi said. He added that Pakistan currently spends around $5 billion annually in terms of freight charges for all foreign trade, of which the share of PNSC is mere five percent.

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He said the government aims to invite the private sector in the shipping business, assuring complete facilitation in this regard. “By the year 2030, customs’ duty will be abolished for all ships to be registered in the country so that they become national flag carriers,” he said. “The other incentives in the policy include exemptions of sales tax and income tax on all income of the ship.”

“Another relief for all the private sector is the reduction in the Gross Tonnage Tax (GRT), given that shipping companies agree to accept freight charges in Pak Rupees and not in the greenback. This incentive has been approved in the finance bill of 2020-21.”

Under the new marine policy, the state bank has allowed the Long Term Finance Facility (LTFF) for the ships and vessels, which was earlier available to exporters. 

“This will help investors buy all floating vessels including tug boats, dredgers, cargo vessels and even the fishing boats to obtain the long term borrowing at three per cent from the banks,” the minister said. “This will also help us upgrade our fishing sector to a deepsea fishing industry.”

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