Business News of Tuesday, 5 December 2017
The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) is working on a new regulation that seeks to establish a public register for shipping service providers in the country.
Under the regulation, a person who engages in the business of providing shipping services without a certificate of registration from the authority will be liable to a fine.
The person shall be liable to pay an administrative fine of not below 2,000 penalty units and not exceeding 10,000 penalty units in the country.
The new regulation, which is known as ‘Shipping Service Providers Regulation, 2017,’ was tabled before stakeholders in the maritime industry in a crunch meeting on the premises of the GMA in Accra.
The Director-General (DG) of the GMA, Mr Kwame Owusu, said the new regulation was part of efforts made by the regulator to sanitize the maritime industry from unscrupulous personalities.
“As a regulator of the maritime industry, we want to ensure that things are done properly for the benefit of all stakeholders in the country,” he said.
He explained that the regulations apply to shipping service providers, including shipping line agents, freight forwarders, clearing agents, customs house agents and freight consolidators.
The rest also included ship bunkering companies, scanning companies, reception facility operators, service boat operators, stevedoring companies, off-dock terminal operators, ship chandlers, private marine surveyors and other shipping service providers determined by the DG.
Detailing aspects of the regulations, Mr Owusu stated that a person shall not engage in the business of providing shipping service unless that person has been registered and granted a certificate of registration by the authority.
He said a person who carried on the business of providing shipping services immediately before the commencement of the new regulation may continue to do so for a period of not more than three months.
“An individual may continue to engage in the business of providing shipping services after the expiration of the three months period if that individual has made an application for registration to the authority within that period,” he said.
Certificate of registration
However, he said, the authority shall not grant a certificate of registration for a person to engage in the business of providing shipping services.
“Unless in the case of an individual, that person is at least 21 years of age. In case of a firm or body corporate, that firm or body corporate is registered under the laws of Ghana,” he said.
The director-general observed that a person, firm or body corporate may apply in writing to the authority for a certificate of registration to engage in the business of providing shipping services.
“The application for a certificate of registration shall be addressed to the Director-General and submitted in accordance with the requirement specified in the new regulation,” he said.
The authority has proposed an increment in charges collected at the ports, in what could lead to fees paid by shipping lines and their agents increasing from US$200 to US$2,000.
Under the review, freight forwarders who presently pay US$200 annually are expected to cough up US$2,000 every year to renew their operating licences as shipping service providers.
Licensing of ship chandlers, which is presently paying US$200, has been separated into off-shore ship chandlers and smaller ship chandlers and they are to pay US$10,000 and US$500 respectively.
Although the figures are yet to be gazetted, shippers and their stakeholders are already up in arms against the proposed adjustment in the fees and charges by the regulator.
However, Mr Owusu noted that the authority by law had been mandated to carry out a periodic review of its fees and charges.
He opined that an application for the grant of a certificate of registration to engage in the business of providing shipping services shall be accompanied with fees as the authority may determine.
“The applicable fee for the grant of a certificate of registration is as specified in the Ghana Maritime Authority (Fees and Charges) Regulations,” he said.
He indicated that a person, firm or a corporate body issued with a certificate under the new regulation, shall submit to the authority two months before the end of the year the structure of fees and charges to be levied for providing shipping services.
“The authority shall also publish in the gazette, the schedule of fees and charges for each shipping service provider in the first month of each year.
A shipping service provider shall not impose any fees or charges other than for specified services provided to the customer or specifically requested by the customer,” he added.