MPA extends aid for maritime industry, bringing cumulative support to $33 million

The Seafarers Relief Package is meant to support some 500 Singaporean seafarers who are working behind the scenes to enable seaborne trade to continue to flow. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Aid for the more affected sectors in the maritime industry will be extended under the MaritimeSG Together Package to tide them over the Covid-19 pandemic, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Tuesday (Dec 8).

With various relief measures under the package set to expire after Dec 31, MPA said it will extend some of these till June 30 next year, bringing the cumulative amount of support to $33 million.

These include financial assistance for seafarers, port dues concession for ships that carry passengers, and extension of credit terms for maritime companies.

The MaritimeSG Together Package took effect on May 1 (2020) to provide support for shipping companies, Singaporean seafarers and people undergoing maritime training, to the tune of $27 million.

This was on top of relief measures announced by the Government in four supplementary Budgets.

MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said in a statement that MPA recognises the continued challenges faced by some in the maritime industry, and is committed to support them through the extension of relief measures.

Measures that are not extended will lapse after Dec 31. These include a 30 per cent port dues concession for ocean-going cargo vessels.

The Seafarers Relief Package for eligible Singaporean seafarers, who face uncertainty with increased border control measures and crew change restrictions, will be extended.

Those who are unable to secure shipboard employment between Jan 1 and June 30 next year (2021) can apply. The package provides up to $700 a month in financial assistance for a maximum of six months.

There are about 500 Singaporean seafarers who could benefit from the package. MPA said it worked with the Singapore Maritime Officers' Union and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen for the extension.

The three organisations, with the Employment and Employability Institute, will extend an award scheme to reward eligible seafarers up to $10,000 for successfully obtaining their Singapore-issued Certificate of Competency 1, and accumulating at least six months of working experience on board in senior shipboard management.

Another scheme to help maritime companies provide internship opportunities for Singaporeans or permanent residents will be extended for afurther six months.

MPA co-funds 50 per cent of the internship allowance paid by these companies, under the Internship Reimbursement Scheme. This is capped at $500 per month per intern, up to a maximum of six months.

The extension will cover internships that start from May 1 this year to June 30 next year.

Co-funding support of up to 90 per cent for selected training schemes - to encourage skills improvement and digital transformation efforts - will be extended for another six months.

With passenger volumes continuing to remain low due to the pandemic, MPA said it will continue to provide economic relief to passenger vessel owners and operators, as well as passenger terminal operators.

A 50 per cent port dues concession for passenger-carrying vessels from March 1 to Dec 31 that was previously announced will be extended for another six months.

For regional ferry service operators and their ferries, there will also be an extension for a 50 per cent rebate for counter rental at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and overnight berthing there and at the Regional Ferry Terminal at Harbourfront Centre.

Passenger terminal operators Sats-Creuers Cruise Services and Singapore Cruise Centre will be granted a 100 per cent waiver of their public licence fees for one more year.

As for companies which face difficulties managing their cash flows, MPA said it will continue to extend credit terms of up to an additional 45 days, beyond the existing 30-day standard credit terms, until June 30 next year.

The maritime industry contributes about 7 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product and employs more than 170,000 workers, according to the Maritime Singapore website.

Despite maritime trade routes largely being kept open to maintain supply lines, the total number of vessel arrivals in June fell nearly 40 per cent compared with a year ago.

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