Our Bureau

Mumbai, March 1

THE shipping industry had nothing much to cheer about in the Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, on Monday.

Reacting to the Budget, Mr A.R. Ramakrishnan, chief operating officer of Essar Shipping Ltd, said though the Budget proposal did not offer any major direct benefits to the shipping industry, it, however, did provide in various measures for the development of the industry, which could benefit shipping in some ways.

"With the reduction of corporate tax rate, effective tonnage tax for shipping industry will also reduce. Also, with the Government identifying the port sector as one of the four sectors to be supported through SPV for infrastructure projects, investments in ports and port-related projects are expected to get a boost," he pointed out.

Commenting on the Budget, Mr S.K. Shahi, Chairman of SKS (Ship) Ltd, said, "There is nothing very spectacular about this year's Budget for the shipping industry, with the largest sops going to the textiles, IT and construction industry."

He lamented that although the dredging sector has been brought under the tonnage tax regime, inland vessels have been left out.

He felt that the Government should consider setting up a separate Shipping Development Bank that could provide loans to ship owners at rates close to LIBOR.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 2, 2005)
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