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Belize government nationalises the ship registry

Belize government nationalises the ship registry
The Belizean government has announced it was taking over the International Merchant Marine of Belize (IMMARBE) which sells the Belizean Flag as a flag of convenience to international vessels, and the International Business Corporations Registry, both foreign-owned entities that control and operate the entire offshore business sector in Belize.

Belize International Services Limited owns, along with the Panamanian Law firm Morgan & Morgan, IMMARBE and IBC Register.

An official release from the Belizean government was published Monday 10 June stating that “the ministry of finance announces that the Management Services Agreement between the government of Belize and Belize International Services Limited, to manage the International Business Companies Registry and the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) comes to an end, today, 10 June 2013.”  It added: “Accordingly, the government will assume control of the two registries with effect from tomorrow, 11 June 2013.”

Both registers were established in the early 1990’s. IMMARBE – the Belize Ship Registry celebrated its 20th anniversary at the end of 2012.

The Belize Ship Registry performed well in 2012, increasing tonnage by 8% to 2.21m tonnes and by 5% in the number of vessels to 942 ships at the end of last year, with 50% of the fleet trading in Asia. IMMARBE published a series of financial incentives for ship owners that came into effect January 1, 2013.

It is not clear why the government decided the take over the ship registry but local media reported that as a financial secretary had assumed control of the operations as of 11 June and that it was likely the government would win public support by explaining the takeover as a direct source of incremental revenue.

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