The last months have proven to be a very challenging time for the shipping sector due to the ever changing scenarios caused by port restrictions, decrease in demand and limitations in seafarers movements.
The sector has been suffering and will continue to do so. Notwithstanding low cargo rates and a reduction in prices of fuel, COVID-19 led to overcapacity in shipping containers with a demand of goods and raw material decreasing sharply compared to the previous years.
For this reason the Government of Malta allocated to the port handling cluster a €2.08 million fund to be granted to port operators, importers, exporters and ship agents as a partial refund of handling fees incurred for all those activities and operations which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic period earlier this year.
Beneficiaries of this scheme are all those ship operators,
import and export agents as well as freight forwarding and shipping
agents who operated in Malta between December 2019 and May
During such period Transport Malta registered 1,357 ship calls, and movements involving 24,719 containers and 14,755 trailers. These will all be eligible for refunds under the scheme.
Some operators will be paid automatically and no application will need to be submitted since the Authority for Transport in Malta is already in possession of the required information. Transport Malta will be informing eligible persons about their refunds.
Importers and exporters of unitised cargo, need to support their applications with documentation and receipts of payment during this period. Ship Agents and Freight Forwarders need to provide Delivery Orders and Bills of Lading as applicable.
Port pilotage and mooring services costs will receive a 35% refund while freighters will receive a compensation of 40 Euros per trailer and 20 Euros per container, irrespective of whether it is a 20 or a 40 foot unit.
Minister for Economy Mr. Silvio Schembri said that "Without a doubt, the pandemic created a challenge both logistically as well as by increasing transport costs; this is what we are in fact addressing today through this scheme. We want to continue helping the local industry to maintain its competitivity while ensuring that there is no impact on the prices of essential goods".
"Therefore, while incentivising and giving some relief to operators to carry on with their work with a sense of peace of mind, on the other hand we are protecting consumers from the possibility of increase in prices due to administrative costs. This measure, which forms part of the economic regeneration plan, complements other measures that we launched even recently to safeguard the exportation and importation economic sectors".
Minister responsible for Transport Dr. Ian Borg said that "our ports are essential, both for our daily lives as well as for our economy. The shipping sector has proven its strength and determination when during the difficult months we had, they kept supplying us, our hospitals and essential shops with all we needed. We are speaking about an industry that generates around 14 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, while creating thousands of value-added jobs. It was therefore more than appropriate to ensure that we help this industry to get back on its feet. Government appreciates and acknowledges the value of workers and industries. We will continue talking, listening and working hand in hand towards more growth and progress for the benefit of all."
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