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MPA announces MaritimeSG tgether package for maritime companies, individuals and seafarers



MPA announces MaritimeSG tgether package for maritime companies, individuals and seafarers. Image: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
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The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will provide further financial support to the maritime industry in the wake of the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) outbreak.

The maritime sector is key to Singapore’s economy. Sea trade, which accounts for over 80% of global trade, is particularly important during this time to ensure the flow of essential goods including food and medicine. To provide support to the industry, MPA has announced the MaritimeSG Together Package which will take effect from 1 May 2020. This is on top of previous measures announced under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets.

The MaritimeSG Together Package, amounting to about $27 million, will provide:
a) Financial support to companies;
b) Financial support to individuals for training; and
c) Financial and employment support to Singaporean seafarers.

Financial support for maritime companies and individuals
30% port dues concession for all cargo vessels
To help vessel owners and operators of cargo vessels, MPA will provide a 30% port dues concession[1] for cargo vessels[2] from 1 May to 31 Dec[3] 2020. MPA will also grant a 30% port dues concession for all non passenger-carrying harbourcraft in the Port of Singapore over the same period.
50% rebate on counter rental and overnight berthing for regional ferry operators
MPA has earlier announced a 35% rebate to regional ferry operators to offset their monthly rental fees for overnight berthing of vessels and counter rental at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal for three months starting Mar 2020. With effect from 1 May 2020, MPA will increase this support to 50% until 31 Dec 2020.
A new Maritime Cluster Fund-Internship Reimbursement Scheme will help maritime companies continue to provide students[4] who are Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents with internship opportunities. MPA will co-fund 50% of the internship allowance paid by maritime companies, capped at $500 per month per intern, for up to a maximum period of six months.
MPA will also increase its co-funding support under selected Maritime Cluster Fund schemes to up to 90%. These measures seek to encourage upskilling and further support maritime companies in their digital transformation efforts during this period.
Credit management measures for maritime companies
MPA recognises that maritime companies may face challenges in managing their cash flows and meeting their financial obligations. MPA will exercise flexibility in credit management measures from 1 May to 31 Dec 2020.
Support for seafarers
Singaporean seafarers
During this COVID-19 period, seafarers are faced with uncertainty due to increased border control measures and crew change restrictions. MPA has been facilitating the return of Singaporean seafarers who wish to sign off when their ships call at Singapore.
We have about 500 Singaporean seafarers and they are an invaluable asset to Singapore’s maritime sector. To support them, MPA and the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) will roll out the Seafarers Relief Package for eligible seafarers who are unable to secure shipboard employment between 1 May to 31 Jul 2020. They can apply to receive up to $800 per month in financial assistance.
To encourage Singaporeans to continue to pursue their career advancements, MPA, the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), SMOU, and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) are jointly providing $10,000 to eligible Certificate of Competency Class 1 (COC 1) holders who can accumulate at least six months of sea experience as Chief Officers or Second Engineers from Jan to Dec 2020.
To enable the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) cadets to complete their diploma and obtain their Certificate of Competencies (CoC) as scheduled despite disruptions to their shipboard training, MPA and SMA will exercise flexibility on the curriculum requirements and put in place alternative arrangements such as carrying out classroom trainings online and deferring shipboard training. MPA has also started to carry out oral examinations via video-conferencing for seafarer candidates so as not to hold up the advancement of their careers.
Seafarers associations
MPA will continue to partner seafarer welfare associations to providing for the needs of seafarers onboard ships calling at Singapore. MPA will provide a one-off increase of $50,000 to its annual contribution of $150,000 to the seafarer missions in May 2020.  The annual grant supports a wide range of welfare services for seafarers including free counselling services and pastoral care which are both available online.
“The effect of global supply chain disruption is increasingly being felt by the shipping industry. It is timely that more support be offered to the industry. While every crisis brings uncertainty, it also brings opportunity. The MaritimeSG Together Package aims to provide targeted support for the maritime companies, individuals, and seafarers. They have been working tirelessly to keep our ports open and cargoes going. Besides showing our appreciation for them, MPA also hopes to take this opportunity to accelerate the transformation of Maritime Singapore for the future. I am confident that this will better position Maritime Singapore for the new normal post COVID-19,” said Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA.
Please refer to Annex A for video links to soundbites by Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, Ms Mary Liew, General Secretary of the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union, and Capt Lee Chee Seong, Fleet Director, Pacific Carriers Limited Singapore.


£17m government package to protect freight routes to Northern Ireland



£17m government package to protect freight routes to Northern Ireland. Image: Pixabay
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Vital ferry routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been safeguarded, thanks to a multi-million-pound government scheme to help ensure critical freight can continue to move into and across the Union.

The package, worth up to £17 million, is being funded by the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive and will be made available to operators so that they can continue running freight services on five sea routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced today that further funding, worth tens of millions of pounds, will also be made available to support more routes across the UK, subject to discussions with operators.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Essential supplies are continuing to flow well, but operators are facing challenges as fewer people travelling means less capacity to move goods.

Today’s action will help ensure we have the freight capacity we need across the UK. This funding will help ferry operators protect our supply chain and maintain the flow of critical goods across the Irish Sea and throughout the Union.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, said:

This is excellent news for Northern Ireland and the connectivity of the entire United Kingdom.

Although this coronavirus outbreak has reduced travel demand, this support package from the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive will ensure that essential ferry routes are kept open and vital transport links across the entire UK are safeguarded – guaranteeing the continued supply of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies.

I am pleased that a further support package is also being developed to help ensure crucial air passenger services to and from London, Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport are maintained. And we will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive to help deliver that.

In addition to the funding announced today, the Department for Transport is working closely with the wider transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the situation on air routes which are vital in helping maintain transport links across the union.

The Secretary of State for Transport also confirmed that the Department has been working with the Northern Ireland Executive to develop a support package which will ensure passenger flights from Belfast and Derry-Londonderry, to Great Britain are maintained during the pandemic.

The Department is in discussions with the relevant airlines, airports and the Northern Ireland Executive to finalise this package guaranteeing lifeline air passenger services remain in operation.

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China’s land port sees burgeoning e-commerce export business



China’s land port sees burgeoning e-commerce export business. Image: XINHUANET
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Alataw Pass, a major rail port in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has seen a booming cross-border e-commerce retail export business this year.

In the first quarter, a total of 287,400 e-commerce parcels, worth about 520,000 U.S. dollars, have been delivered via the land port to EU countries, including Belgium and Germany, according to the Urumqi Customs.

Alataw Pass launched the cross-border e-commerce retail business on Jan. 21, exporting toys, furniture, clothing, daily necessities and other goods.

Parcels delivered by train through the port takes half of the time of shipping. During the epidemic prevention and control period, the logistics cost is nearly 70 percent lower than that of air transportation.

It is estimated that more than 20 million cross-border e-commerce parcels will be exported to EU countries through Alataw Pass this year.

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Ministry of Shipping plays a pro-active role towards ensuring smooth shipping operations in COVID-19 situation and lockdown in the country



Ministry of Shipping plays a pro-active role towards ensuring smooth shipping operations in COVID-19 situation and lockdown in the country. Image: Flickr/ Ramnath Bhat
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Total traffic handled at Major Ports from April to March 2020 shows 0.82% growth in tonnage Over 46,000 crew/passenger thermal- scanned at ports Penalties, demurrage, charges, fee, rentals levied by the Major ports waived off on any port user Hospitals across the Major Port Trusts are prepared for Covid-19 Over Rs. 59 crore Contributions from Salary and CSR funds to PM CARES Fund; DG, Shipping provides reliefs concerning Seafarers, Waivers, Shipping Lines, Sanitization, Safety certificates

In the wake of unprecedented crisis due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Shipping has been taking pro-active steps to ensure smooth running of shipping and port operations, ease the hardships, and at the same time, following the restrictions imposed during the lockdown.

Traffic Handled by MajorPorts

The total traffic handled at Major Ports from April to March 2020 was 704.63 Million Tonnes as against 699.10 Million Tonnes handled during the corresponding period of the previous year, showing an overall growth of 0.82% in the traffic handled.

Ministry of Shipping plays a pro-active role towards ensuring smooth shipping operations in COVID-19 situation and lockdown in the country. Image: PIB


During April to March, 2020, Container tonnage and TEUS were 146934 and 9988 thousand respectively, whereas it was 145451 and 9877 thousand during April to March, 2019. There was growth of 1.02% in Container tonnage and 1.12% in ContainerTEUs.

Ministry of Shipping plays a pro-active role towards ensuring smooth shipping operations in COVID-19 situation and lockdown in the country. Image: PIB


In March 2020, the total traffic was 61120 tonnes which is more than 57233 tonnes in February 2020 but 5.25% less than March,2019 (64510 tonnes).

No. of vessels handled
The number of vessels handled by ports during 2019-20 was around 20837, whereas during 2018-19, number of vessels handled was 20853. The vessel traffic declined slightly by 0.08%in comparison to last year.

Measures taken to handle the COVID-19

  1. Thermal scanning

Total of 46,202 passengers have been scanned between 27/01/2020 to 04/04/2020 using Thermal Scanners at Indian Ports. Out of which, 39,225 people were scanned at Major Ports.

  1. Waiver of penal fee

Ministry of Shipping, vide order no: PD-14300/4/2020-PD VII, dated 31st March, 2020 issued directions to the MajorPorts:

  1. Each Major Port to ensure that no penalties, demurrage, charges, fee, rentals are levied by the Major ports on any port user (traders, Shipping lines, concessionaires, licensees etc.) for any delay in berthing or loading/unloading operations or evacuation of cargo caused by the reasons attributable to lockdown measures from 22nd March to 14th April, 2020.
  2. Therefore, each Major Port shall exempt or remit demurrage, ground rent over and above the free period, penal anchorage/berth hire charges and any other performance related penalties that may be levied on port related activities including minimum performance guarantee, wherever applicable.
  1. Force majeure

Ministry of Shipping, vide order no: PD-14300/4/2020-PD VII, dated 31stMarch,2020 issued directions to the Major Ports:

  1. The period for completion of any Project under implementation in PPP mode or otherwise, can be extended by the Ports.
  2. For existing and operational PPP projects, the Major Ports can permit waiver of all penal consequences on a case-to-case basis along with deferment of certain performance obligations under the relevant provisions of Concession Agreement.

The period of Force Majeure starts from the date of order of Ministry of Finance referred above and will end when the competent authority so orders

  1. Preparation of Hospitals

Hospitals across the Major Port Trusts have been supplied with the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and the arrangement of sufficient staff round the clock has been made. In some Port Hospitals, a part of the hospital can be earmarked for Covid-19 with separate entry and exit.

  1. CSR Funds transferred to PMCARES Fund

Ports and PSUs under the Ministry of Shipping have contributed more than Rs 52 Crore from the CSR funds towards PM CARES Fund.

  1. Employees contribute from their salary

Employees of Ports, PSUs and other offices of the Ministry of Shipping have contributed over Rs 7 crore from their salaries towards PM CARES Fund.

  1. Steps taken by DG Shipping

DG Shipping vide Order No. 02 of 2020 dated 16.03.2020, Order  No.03  of  2020 dated 20/03/2020 and  Order No.  04 of 2020 dated 20/03/2020 issued Instructions  on dealing with novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Directorate prepared a guidance document for shipping industry to help combat the spread of the Coronavirus. The document contains the advice on managing port entry restrictions, practical protective measures against COVID-19 for seafarers, pre-boarding screening, and education and what to do in suspected cases of infection, hygiene measures for seafarers on ships, managing high risk exposure, case handling, isolation and cleaning, disinfection and waste Management etc. All the stakeholders including Indian Shipping companies, RPS Service providers, MTIs, seafarers were directed to strictly comply with the instructions. DG Shipping issued Addendum No.  1 to DGS Order No. 04 of 2020 dated 21/03/2020 updating countries list with mandatory quarantine and travel ban by MoHFW, Govt. ofIndia.

    1. Waiver

In order to ensure that the EXIM trade does not suffer dueto certain unavoidable delays in loading and discharge of cargo due to thelockdown;

  1. The Shipping lines have been advised by DGS order No 7 to not impose any container detention charge on export and import shipments of containerised cargo for the period from 22th  March, 2020 to 14th April, 2020 (both days inclusive) over and above free time arrangement that is currently agreed and availed as part of any negotiated contractual terms. During this period,the shipping lines are also advised not impose any new or additiona lcharge.
  2. In order to grant relief to the Indian EXIM trade the Shipping companies and carriers have been advised by DGS order No 8 to not charge any demurrage, ground rent beyond free period, storage charges in the  port,  additional  anchorage charges, berth hire charge, or vessel demurrage or any other penal charge on cargo owners/ consignees of non-containerised cargo (i.e. bulk, break bulk and liquid cargo) for the period 22nd March, 2020 to 14th April,2020 (both days inclusive) due to delay in evacuation of cargo by reasons attributable to lockdown measures since 22nd March,2020.
    1. Shipping Lines

DG Shipping vide order no. 07 of 2020, dated 29/03/2020 issued advisory to the Indian ports and Shipping lines not to impose any container detention charge on import and export shipments from 22ndMarch, 2020 to 14th April, 2020 (both day inclusive). During this period Shipping Lines were also advised not toimpose any new or additional charge.

Relief given to the Shipping Companies:

  1. Since all DGS approved Training Institutes have been closed down and the seafarers on board ships have not been able to sign off on completion of their contract, many of the Certificates of Competency (COCs), Certificates of Proficiency (COPs) and Certificates of Efficiency (COEs) of seafarers on board  or for those kept in reserve as replacement crew, have lapsed or are likely to get lapsed. In order to keep the validity of these certificates alive, DGS has on its own extended the validity of certificates expiring up to 31st October, 2020 for a period of 6 months (It means all certificates will remain valid till 31.03.202. International Maritime Organization has been informed accordingly.
  2. Similarly, the validity of safety certificates of Indian ships is lapsing.  In view of the difficulties faced by ship surveyors in carrying out the requisite safety inspections of the ships during these times, the validity of ship certificates has been extended till 31st June, 2020 subject to the Master of the Ship certifying that the ship is safe to operate.
  3. To deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, DGS has developed revised guidelines for sanitisation of all ships, PPEs requirements for ship staff and pilots boarding the vessels, sanitisation and PPE requirements for ship and port  staff for loading and unloading of cargo at all major and minor Indian Ports, protocol for management of sick crew and  dead  bodies  on  board, protocol for sign-on and sign-off of crew in emergencies etc. The revised protocol of DGS is being used by many foreign countriesalso.
  4. The above protocols have been dealt with in DGS orders 1 of 2020 to DGS order 9 of 2020 and addendums. The Directorate continues to constantly watch the functioning of Indian ships and ships in Indianwaters.
  5. Due to the proactive approach of the maritime administration all Indian ships have been kept in working condition with valid certificates, are adequately manned and are engaged in carriage of goods.

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