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Govt mulls to set up Maritime Development Fund to support shipping sector

Wednesday, 21 Feb 2024
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The government is considering setting up a Maritime Development Fund (MDF) with the aim of providing low-cost, long-term financial support to the shipping sector.

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Secretary T K Ramachandran stated that the government is also looking at granting infrastructure status to the shipping sector. There are two options to set up an MDF, one is setting up a dedicated maritime vertical under the newly proposed development finance institution, or constituting a standalone MDF as a company with majority ownership by a multilateral/ bilateral agency.

The government is also considering notifying guidelines for setting up non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) to undertake vessel financing/ leasing from IFSC. It also intends to remove restrictions on foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) investing in category-I and category-II AIFs and amend Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) regulations to create a separate category of AIFs for investments in ship leasing companies.

The Ports Ministry is planning to extend the shipbuilding financial assistance policy for another 10 years and working on developing shipbuilding and repair clusters at Mumbai, Kochi and Chennai. An investment of around Rs 75-80 lakh crore is envisaged in the maritime sector under the Blue Economy 2047 initiative. The government aims to rationalise port charges by 2030 to make Indian ports competitive vis-a-vis global transhipment ports.

Besides, the government is also exploring the public-private partnership (PPP) model in towage services and dredging. It is working on a proposal to provide long-term buyers’ credit for ships in the open market. It is working on an initiative to implement a coastal shipping incentive scheme to provide up to a 50 percent reduction in port dues and terminal handling charges for ships demonstrating modal shifts.

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