Pakistan to trade port charge discounts for seamens jobs

Pakistan to trade port charge discounts for seamens jobs

Pakistan has announced that foreign ships employing 80 percent Pakistani national crew will get a rebate of 25 percent in charges when they call at the country's ports.

Pakistan's Ministry of Communications, in a notice issued last week, said the concession in port charges given to Pakistani flag vessels is being extended to foreign flag ships provided they fulfilled the condition that they carry Pakistani crew.

Ship calls to ports in the Indian sub-continent region are generally more expensive compared to Singapore and Dubai due in part to high expenses at state-run facilities.

The announcement meets a long-standing demand of Pakistani seafarers that the government take measures to increase their employment on foreign vessels.

An estimated 24,000 Pakistani seafarers around the world have lost their jobs since Sept. 11, 2001. Pakistani seamen reportedly have found it difficult to obtain visas from many Western countries.

A mariner's society also estimates that Karachi could see revenues of as much as $3 million annually if 200 Pakistani seafarers get jobs.

- N. Vasuki Rao in New Delhi