Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shipping Ministry should standardize the agency service fees:  Arul Joseph


Port Wings News Network:

The Ministry of Shipping should standardize the agency service fees to be same in all the major and non major ports in the Indian sub continent, Mr Arul A. Joseph, Managing Director of Unicorn Maritimes (India) Pvt. Ltd (Unicorn Group), has said.

In an exclusive interview to Port Wings after receiving the prestigious "Jewel of India" award for his outstanding achievements in the shipping industry, Mr Arul Joseph, said, “Since this will enhance the Indian ship agents’ presence in the world market and as such the Indian ship agents’ services is in no way inferior to the services rendered by the overseas counterparts who are been paid heavily for the services as ship agents.”

Excerpts of the interview…

Q: Congratulations on receiving the prestigious award. Could you tell us about your shipping background?
Mr Arul A. Joseph: Thank you gentlemen, let me begin by saying that I was graduated from Loyola College in Andhra Pradesh. Later I joined the sea in 1975 starting sea career from the scratch and by 1981, I reached zenith. After which I quit sea service since I had successfully completed all family obligations.
In 1981, I started Unicorn Maritimes (India) Private Limited ( with one table and chair. Today, I have succeeded in creating an internationally recognized brand Unicorn, catering to the needs of worldwide clients in the field of ship agency, chartering and brokering with main focus on the dry bulk cargoes.

Q: Tell us about the “Jewel of India” award?
AAJ: On the 15th of November, the Indian Solidarity Council at New Delhi had invited me to participate in the seminar on economic and education development held in the auditorium of the Indian Society of International Law. After which, the ISC had honoured me with the “Jewel of India” award for outstanding achievements in the shipping industry. The award carried gold medal, citation, merit certificate and a plaque. It was a great honour to receive this award from eminent personalities of India like Dr Bhishma Narayan Singh (Former Cabinet Minister and Governor of Tamil Nadu), Dr G. V. G. Krishnamurthy (Ex Chief Election Commissioner), Justice O. P. Varma (Former Governor of Punjab and Chief Justice of Kerala), Mr Joginder Singh (Former Chief of CBI), Mr O. P. Saxena (President of All India Lawyers’ Forum) and Dr N.S.N. Babu (Secretary-General, Indian Solidarity Council).
I am pleased to inform that the ISC gives these awards annually to eminent personalities like teachers, social workers, doctors, scholars etc for their outstanding services to the community in which they are serving.
I am delighted to bring to your notice that this is the first time that shipping fraternity has been considered. And out of the awardees who represents every corner of the country, only a few were rewarded with the Jewel of India award, gold medal and me, representing the shipping industry was the first one to be called on the stage to receive the prestigious award amongst the prestigious gathering.

Q. What is your message to the fraternity?
AAJ: It is time to recall to the Shipping Ministry that the ship agents fraternity is a professionally reputed service oriented sector.  And that the Ministry of Shipping should recognize their service. Since most of us as ship agents do not stop just entering and clearing the ships at ports but are one of the main source of marketing in the port sector and solely responsible for all the inward revenues in millions of dollars to the ports and the country.
After this juncture, the ship agents’ fraternity would be grateful to the Ministry if they consider our following requests.
  1.  The ship agents’ services should be recognized by the Ministry of Shipping as published in United Nations (UNCTAD) Minimum Standard For Shipping Agents, 1988.
  2. All the heavy documentations followed by the Customs during the vessel’s entry and clearances (including the TDS documentations) should be abolished and brought online, even the port clearance should be online in par with all the leading ports in the world.
  3. Most importantly, the Ministry of Shipping should standardize the agency service fees to be same in all the major and non major ports in the Indian sub continent.  Since this will enhance the Indian ship agents’ presence in the world market and as such the Indian ship agents’ services is in no way inferior to the services rendered by the overseas counterparts who are been paid heavily for the services as ship agents. Bound by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) Act, neither the ship agents association nor by individual MNC ship agent firm cannot impose any agency service fee schedule which has now become great advantage to the foreign ship owner who is bargaining with the Indian ship agents on the agency service fee. The principals expect a world class service but bargain to pay world-class fee as they are doing to the overseas counterparts.
In the event, the MoS standardize this ship agents’ service fee, the ship agents’ fraternity would serve their principals with dignity. And moreover, it should be highlighted that by the virtue of such standardization process, the Government of India will be in a position to reap heavy income in the form of service tax whilst reducing the procedures for filing service tax with the tax authorities.

Q. Tell us about your view on Chennai Port- Maduravoyal Elevated Expressway?
AAJ: With regards to the Chennai Port- Maduravoyal Elevated Expressway, it is a very needy and essential project for not only to Chennai Port, but for the entire state. The project would reduce the road congestion to the maximum.

Q. What is the importance of EMRIP for both Chennai and Kamarajar ports?
AAJ: As you are aware, EMRIP is also a vital project between Kamarajar Pot and Chennai Port. But, I fear that by the time the EMRIP comes into full reality, it may not serve the purpose for which it was intended. Since the cargo volumes are increasing day by day thus demanding more roads for transportation.

Q. What is your take on RamSethu Project?
AAJ: RamSethu is also a vital project which you all know has been stopped for reasons known to the nation. Now that the alternative is being sought by the new dynamic government to pave way via Pamban is applaudable. Subject to condition that the depths for suitable draught have to be considered between two narrow coral islands – Pullivasi and Kurusadai which is always filled with silted sand.

Q. Tell us about the government’s ambitious Sagarmala project?
AAJ: Sagarmala was the dream project of our ex Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who revolutionized the road transport system by creating the Golden Quadrilateral. India has been blessed by natural coastline extending to 7517 km precisely with 11 major ports and a corporate major port. The need of the hour is for the Ministry of Shipping to identify all the mid-stream ports along the coastline and announce to the general public which will encourage the MNCs to take advantage and set shop along the coastline.
  At this point of time, the mega vessels could be handled at stream or anchorage wherein the draught are naturally available at easily navigable distances from the shore. Thus, saving the Ministry of Shipping /users from dredging, building big ports and berths engaging heavy harbor crafts.
The only requirement would be a point for pilot contact and a lighthouse or a floating beacon. Thus encouraging the user who would need only to invest on floating cranes and mechanical barges, while building a small barge jetty on shore. This will start fetching revenue to the government by way of anchorage dues from a lighterage and cargo handling dues etc.,
For the user, it would be advantageous since his import would directly go to his industry set on the shore. Thus making way forming industrial clusters, employment opportunities and development on the coastal and the fishing sectors.

Q. Tell us about the growth of coastal shipping?
AAJ: Having highlighted the importance of Sagarmala, our government would start fetching revenue by handling vessel as outer anchorage at stream. Such incomes could be safely diverted for developing the coastal waterways, in the form of dredging, building berth etc.
Needless to mention coastal waterways and inland waterways can make a great change to our country. And, this has already been widely discussed by eminent people in various important forums.  
In conclusion, its my pleasure to bring to the notice of the fraternity that we at CHENSAA are always available 24X7 365 days to share with the Ministry of Shipping all our expertise and ideas in the development of the shipping sector of our nation.
Once again, I am happy to the Ministry of Shipping for having recognized our fraternity and proud to dedicate this award to the entire shipping fraternity.

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