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Ministry of Shipping seeks aid for port development

Mumbai: The secretary of India's Union Ministry of Shipping (UMS) has asked for a special stimulus package to fight out recession in shipping sector and to aid the development of nine major ports, writes Steel Guru.

Speaking at a conference on building logistics for competitive business, UMS secretary Sarma is reported as saying, "we have asked for the special package for the first time in view of ongoing meltdown to meet dredging operations for nine major ports as also sought relaxation on taxation as shipping industry is highly taxed".

 "The coastal areas states do not have funds for necessary dredging operations which according to Ministry of Shipping should be allocated to them as part of proposed stimulus package which can be granted any day," he added, without disclosing specific details of the request.

"Of the proposed nine projects, two have already been cleared by PP Advisory Committee for which financial bidding would commence shortly as all major known players are competing. The Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways would shortly seek clearances for three more ports through PP Advisory Committee in current fiscal itself and remaining four would be referred to it for necessary approvals in next few months."

He emphasised the need for introduction of transparency in shipping sector, which he claims would reduce logistics and freight costs and benefit end users.

Additionally, Sarma is said to have added that the Ministry intends to focus on the creation of deep draft terminals so that large vessels, especially from Brazil and other producing nations, are able to ferry iron ore and other raw materials at much reduced costs with higher speed. He added that with the establishment of Indian Maritime University, the workforce for shipping industry would be made easily available since currently shipping industry has been facing crunch of qualified staff, as India is a reputed source for trained seafarers.  [22/12/08]

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