Operation Phakisa to develop merchant shipping

Operation Phakisa: SA needs own merchant ships…

mapafrica&saCurrently, the cabinet is focused on Operation Phakisa, or South Africa’s exploitation of its oceanic resources, bearing in mind it has 6,000kms of coastline. In its budget vote presentation to Parliament, the department of transport (DoT) has indicated that it has every intention of not only building a South African maritime fleet but encouraging “Panama type” registration for vessels around the world.

Dramatically announcing that South Africa had to become “a maritime nation”, minister of transport, Dipuo Peters, said that a maritime delivery unit had been established within DoT to support the NDP’s key growth strategy for the development of the oceanic economy, launched earlier by the President in his SONA address as Operation Phakisa.

Focus on shipping world

MSC-Beatrice-PanamaCurrently she said DoT had introduced a new shipping tax regime for international shipping which exempts qualifying ship owners from paying income tax; capital gains tax; dividend tax; and withholding tax on interest for a number of years.

Minister Peters said, “We believe this tax exemption will undoubtedly encourage the South African ship register to be sought-after internationally and we are further engaging national treasury to consider a special tax regime for coastal and regional shipping.”

In June 2012, a department of DoT led by Tsietsi Mokhele of the SA Maritime Safety Authority, called for a policy framework to enable the establishment of both a coastal and a blue-water merchant fleet, following a meeting with the then NA Speaker, Max Sisulu, who had called for more information on where South Africa stood with regard to maritime affairs internationally.

All foreign vessels

Mokhele told Parliament’s transport portfolio committee that about 98 percent of South Africa’s total import and export trade was currently carried by foreign ships and currently South Africa does not have a single own-flagged commercial vessel on its shipping register.

He said at the time, “South Africa has no ships on its register and paid in 2007 about R37bn in maritimeSAFMARINE_CHAMBAL transport services to foreign owners and operators and had approximately 12,000 vessels visiting the country’s eight commercial ports each year”.

In the previous year (2011), 264 million tons of cargo were moved by sea at an estimated cost of R45bn to the country the committee heard and in the BRICS grouping, South Africa stood alone with no vessels, whilst Brazil operated a fleet of 172 merchant vessels, India 534, China 2044 and Russia 1891.

Not self-reliant

“We are almost 100 percent dependent on foreign shipping to get our goods to market, despite South Africa being a maritime country with over 3,000km of coastline and a vast seaward economic exclusion zone”, he said.

Mokhele told parliamentarians that the country’s sea-borne cargo constituted at that time a “significant” 3.5 % of global sea trade. “Yet all the benefits of shipping cost overheads to export destinations in the case of South Africa accrue to the nation from which the ship transport emanates”, he said.  He claimed that all South Africa’s maritime fleet had been “sold off by the apartheid government”.

Infrastructure is there

oil_tankerDuring this year’s budget vote speech, minister Peters said the facts were extraordinary and she confirmed that SA had a massive coastline positioned on sea trading routes with thee world’s largest bulk coal terminal port in Richards Bay; the busiest port in African Africa with the largest container facility in the Southern Africa; the deepest container terminal in Africa; Cape Town had the biggest refrigerated container facility in Africa and Saldhana Bay was the largest port in Africa by water footprint.

She added that South Africa is among the top fifteen countries that trade by sea with 96% of the country’s imports and exports moving by sea transportation yet the country had no merchant fleet of any kind.

Elements to Operation Phakisa

Minister Peters said that Operation Phakisa focused on three areas, namely, offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture; and marine protection services and oceans governance, the last named being run by the aforementioned SAMSA whose new maritime safety programme has a specific focus on ship safety inspection programmes which have resulted in “nil” reported ship losses in SA waters.

Working with treasury, minister Peters said that DoT had been able to increase the mortgage ranking for financial institutions supporting the maritime sector – particularly, those that finance actual vessel purchases. Also the Transnet Port Regulator in Durban had brought greater certainty to port regulations with a new framework on which the 2015/16 tariff would be based.

Plans starting

oil rigIt was now proposed to establish a National Ship Register for registration of vessels worldwide; work with the private sector to develop initiatives and support the local ship building, ship repairs and maritime skills development.

On matters of policy and legislative framework and Operation Phakisa generally, minister Peters said that DoT would finalise a national maritime transport policy; a policy towards the cabotage (the illegal hire of transport for passengers or goods between two destinations in the same country) and coastal and international waters law.

Small  beginnings

The budget of R392m had been set aside for all maritime related programmes and projects, the minister said which was approved.

In the meantime, the minister has tabled the Merchant Shipping Amendment Bill which carries out very necessary amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act of 1951 to bring it line with South Africa’s Constitution.

The Amendment Bill also gives effect to the Maritime Labour Convention and the Work in FishingCoega harbour equip Convention both Conventions being adopted by UN’s ILO. International Labour Organisation.”  This aligns domestic legislation to global instruments ensuring global protection to the rights of seafarers and decent working and living conditions thus enabling South Africa to intervene in cases where foreign ships enter SA ports have contravened the rights of seafarers.”

The adoption of this legislation, its promoters say, will improve the operations and image of SA’s emerging maritime industry and is also an imperative in international trade.
Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/merchant-shipping-bills-on-oil-pollution-levies-approved/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/green-paper-nautical-limits/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/uncategorized/search-and-rescue-bill-to-set-up-search-centres/
 

 

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