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India announces sweeping ports sector reform

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India’s maritime sector is set to go through sweeping reforms. The Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Mansukh Mandaviya, hoped these changes will bring more investments.

India and several Gulf countries recently began collaborating in the maritime sector and such cooperation is expected to receive a shot in the arm with these reforms.

“We are working on the creation of a National Port Grid,” the Minister said while unveiling the reforms. “This will be a game-changer in the Indian maritime sector, especially for bringing more investments.”

Releasing the text of the legislation as a draft, he said it “will bolster structured growth and sustained development of ports and ensure achieving this objective on fast track basis. It will result in revolutionary maritime reforms transmuting the Indian maritime set-up entirely in the times to come.”

The draft legislation will repeal and replace the obsolete, century-old Indian Ports Act of 1908, which was enacted when India was under British rule. Once the new law is approved by Parliament, it will be called the Indian Ports Act, 2020.

Among other things, it will constitute a Maritime Port Regulatory Authority, formulate a National Port Policy in consultation with coastal states, Maritime Boards across the country and create adjudicatory tribunals to curb anti-competitive practices as well as ensure a speedy grievance redressal mechanism.

All this will enhance the concept of “ease of doing business” in the maritime sector through “increased opportunities for investments in ports by removing barriers,” the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said.

Meanwhile, the Indian government today invited bids to sell its 63.75 percent stake in the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) to private investors. The deadline for submitting bids for the Indian rupees 39.15 billion-worth ($529 million) company has been set for February 13, 2021.

SCI owns and operates a third of India’s total tonnage and has four joint ventures for transporting liquefied natural gas. All these assets will be included in the sale.

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