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'Green' ships flying the Singapore flag will receive tax rebates and be charged lower fees

The article first appeared in The Straits Times on  8 Oct 2021. 

Ships registered in Singapore that have found ways to reduce their carbon emissions will from November be designated "green", qualifying them for rebates on taxes and other benefits to be introduced next year.

It is hoped that the incentives will push more vessels towards prioritising sustainability, with the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) being one of the five largest fleets in the world, with more than 4,000 vessels under its purview.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Friday (Oct 8) that future “green” registrants will also have their initial registration fees reduced. 

All "green" ships will also be issued a certificate of recognition and have their details published on MPA's website at no extra cost, which should boost their commercial attractiveness, the authority said.

No other registry in the world currently uses the same accreditation system.

At an event celebrating the 55th anniversary of the SRS on Friday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said MPA is engaging major charterers to promote the accreditation system so that qualifying ships are considered more favourably.

"We aspire for the (accreditation) to be universally recognised as an assurance of a vessel's quality and future-readiness," he said.

There are three other categories for the new accreditation system. A "smart" label for vessels that make good use of digital technologies; a "cyber" label for those that have adopted advanced cyber-security measures to protect their key operations; and a "welfare" label for those that have good infrastructure and amenities for the well-being of their crew.

MPA said it will consider incentives for awardees of these other categories, including financial benefits that have been rolled out for "green" vessels.

The SRS Forum was held at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, where Mr Chee remarked on how far the registry has come since it started in 1966.

He pledged to further expand the maritime industry, growing the pie for Singaporeans by attracting more companies to come here and getting existing companies to make new investments.

"As economies open up further and global trade recovers, maritime Singapore, which comprises our global hub port and international maritime centre, is poised for further expansion," he said.

"Our diversity as a cosmopolitan city is our strength. Singapore cannot be a successful hub, whether in finance, aviation or maritime, if we become inward-looking and lose our links with the world.

"This is a topic which is close to my heart."

Singapore-registered ships are internationally recognised for their quality and safety, with tighter rules than other large registries elsewhere, such as those in Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands.

Due to this, these vessels have no restrictions placed on where they can trade, and have significant business advantages and savings. For instance, they are subject to fewer inspections when they call at foreign ports.

Today, Singapore-registered ships have an aggregate gross tonnage of more than 93 million. The fleet is also one of the youngest, with an average vessel age of 10.9 years.

"The SRS continues to provide good support for Singapore-flagged ships," Mr Chee said. "Owners and operators of Singapore-registered ships can be assured that the SRS will do its best to support (them) in times of need."

 

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