Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA) will approach the Shipping Ministry to sort out the issues in the collection of light dues by the Customs Department in all major ports.

The issues in this regard have been raised at the 43{+r}{+d} session of SCOPE (Standing Committee on Promotion of Exports) and CSLA pointed out that this has resulted in additional costs for shipping companies.

The SCOPE (Shipping) meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of Madhusudan Prasad, Additional Secretary, Commerce Department, has directed the CSLA to meet officials of the Shipping Ministry, as the light dues are fixed by the Ministry and collected by the Customs.

It is pointed out in the meeting that the Customs Department has wrongly interpreted the Light House Act 1927 through two crucial areas. One – they have instituted the charging of light dues on containers carried on decks of ships, resulting in additional costs. Further, in one case, they have started charging light dues for every 30 days that a vessel stays in port.

Additionally, light dues are chargeable on earning capacity – and empty containers cannot be considered under earning capacity of ship as they earn no freight and should not be charged.

In all such cases, the Customs have given wrong interpretations of the Lighthouse Act, CSLA said. It may be recalled that the shipping fraternity in Kochi Port had opposed the collection of Light Dues for ‘on-deck cargo’ on all vessels calling at the port, saying that the Customs Levy had virtually taken away the sops offered by the port management to attract vessels.

With the decision of the Customs Department to collect fee from November 1, ships had already started paying Rs 8 for a tonne for the total tonnage of containers/cargo on deck. This has forced shipping lines to spend additional money for each port of call.

The shipping community also alleged that this would have an adverse impact on calling of mainliners to the Vallarpadam terminal at a time when the neighbouring transhipment hub in Colombo is on a major expansion drive.

sajeevkumar.v@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 17, 2013)
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