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Maharashtra Cabinet clears sops for port operators

      07/10/2019

The Maharashtra government has paved the way for sops to private port operators months before the Assembly elections. The Cabinet on Tuesday cleared changes to the Maharashtra Port Policy -- 2016, allowing major concessions in wharfage charges (reducing them to half from three times), extending benefits to ‘greenfield’ ports and multimodal jetties up to 50 years from 35 years, and extending the period of concessions for shipyards to 30 years from 10 years. The changes were made based on the representation made by the Indian National Shipowners Association, Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India (AMTOI) and other stakeholders last month, officials said.

The Hindu had reported last week that several concessions were in the offing for around 500 private and pubic ports across the State, including an assurance from the government to recommend to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council a cut in levy to 5% from the existing 12% for “multimodal” transport operators in Maharashtra. The Cabinet also cleared the use of the jetties of the Maharashtra Maritime Board for a proposed Ro-Ro service, tourism and other training purposes. The Cabinet approved new measurement rates for the foreshore land -- a land string that margins a water body -- for which development charges have to be paid upfront as per the ready reckoner rates.

Senior officials said the 5% GST levy on road transport operators is far less than that imposed on multimodal operators, who have to pay 12%. AMTOI had requested the government to ensure a reduction in this duty. The government has promised to take up the issue with the Centre once AMTOI provides the relevant data to back its claims. The new Cabinet changes will also reduce the current rebate given on inter- and intra-State movement in ports and jetties, officials said.

The amendments will also address concerns around the security of the State’s ports. Recently, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had, along with the Indian Navy, declared 20 ports in Raigad alone -- of the 591 ports in Maharashtra -- as “sensitive”, and made the information public in the Legislative Assembly.