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05.05.2017 - 19: 00

Maritime nation without ships: Estonia wants to return to the merchant navy

In the EU, shipping companies performance up to 90 thousand euros per employee per year. One job on a ship generates up to three additional high-paying jobs on shore.

Estonia is the only sea EU country in which there is no proper merchant ship. This was reported in the Marine Estonia consulting council of the government of the country, noting that the last ship left the Estonian register of ships in 2014 year.

Today, under the flags of other countries goes about 60 courts local shipowners. Bring them back and attract new shipowners - the task set by the new Cabinet to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for a period of 2017-2020 years.

Estonian Shipping Company since the Soviet Union employs 77 vessels and large-Estonian merchant fleet was considered the most advanced in Eastern Europe and went over all the seas and oceans. By the time of privatization in the year 1997 such ships remained just over 40. Today, it is recognized that in the course of the privatization of the Estonian shipping company used fraudulent schemes, and the new "owners" not only that bought shares of shipping companies at low prices, and have made the company unprofitable, bankrupt it and finally sold out the entire fleet. In this new foreign customers - the Norwegian company - do not stand on ceremony: from the resulting in 2001, the debt for the purchase of 80 13,5% of shares in million Estonian state could eventually get only 1,9 million euros.

However, not many foreign fraudsters guilty in the disappearance of merchant navy in Estonia as self Estonian maritime legislation and the position of the relevant ministries, acting on the principle of "dog in the manger." Thus, Estonia - the only maritime country in the world that does not provide tax and other incentives to ship owners. This dramatically distinguishes it even from their nearest neighbors. In Latvia and Lithuania, subsidies and benefits to ship owners up to 20-30% of various payments. In Latvia, the sailors and their employers pay the social and other taxes based on the minimum wage, while in Sweden, shipowners do not pay social tax at all. In Scandinavia, the income tax is replaced by the shipowners to the tonnage tax courts. As a consequence, not only the court, but the recruitment centers for sailors left Estonia.

In addition, the current situation of the Estonian shipping register does not comply with the requirements of the present day, too controversial and difficult for local and foreign shipowners and the procedure of registration of vessels and recruitment of crews - and multistage long time.

High tax charges and the intricacies of the law have led to the fact that not only the court but also the Estonian sailors came under the jurisdiction of other States. We are talking about approximately 6000 marine specialists. And this despite the fact that floating on ships under foreign flags Estonian sailors lose their social guarantees of the state, which leads to many tragedies and unpleasant situations. Sailors have to resort to the services of the shipowners with a dubious reputation, where they risk their health and even their lives to earn a living. Because of their belonging to the courts of Liberia, Antigua and Barbuda and other third world countries, Estonians can not benefit from European Union law, strictly regulates labor relations and the issues of employment and layoffs and protect their rights. All this creates a situation of "legal void".

This fact is compounded by the fact that the Estonian seamen and maritime professionals can not rely on legal and other support to their own state, because it is still no mechanism for emergency care, or focal point for a permanent monitoring of the situation with the "foreign" by Estonian sailors.

In February 2017 the Estonian Cabinet granted the offer of Minister of Economy and Communications Kadri Simson of early return to the country's merchant fleet. Ministry of tasked to develop detailed action plan and approve it until the fall 2017 years in order to be able to set the legislative initiative to a vote to parliament in the autumn. The proposed measures include: changes in income tax rates, minimization of social tax, a tax on tonnage availability of legal and other advice to shipowners through greater availability of electronic public administration environment, the creation of a special commission of the transition period for direct contact with stakeholders and others. It is proposed to create a customized "attractive package" of benefits and IT-solutions for specific majors shipowners. Another important issue is stated and the return to international recruiting firms to sailors and seafarers.

In addition, it was decided that Estonia owes more to advertise their achievements as a maritime country: a high level of local marine education, a large number of marine specialists, favorable business environment, a minimum of bureaucracy, development of IT-sector and more.

Experts predict the Marine Advisory Council of the Ministry of Economy, if all goes according to plan, the new legislative changes will come into force in the year 2018. However, much will depend on the shipowners themselves. Most of them will wait until others are doing it, to see the first results. Therefore, the Council hopes that the "first sign" will be the Estonian court, returned to home port. Much will depend on the results of the parliamentary elections in the spring of the year 2019. If the coalition will keep the current configuration, it will add confidence in the actions of shipowners. It is predicted that at the positive circumstances in 2020, under the Estonian flag will go up to 20 merchant ships.

According to the Estonian media, shipping, - one of the most profitable industries in the world. It is in fourth place after the financial services, insurance, and chemical industries. In the EU, shipping companies performance up to 90 thousand euros per employee per year. One job on a ship generates up to three additional high-paying jobs on shore. If the Estonian flag will go up to 400 courts, Estonia's GDP will grow by 1,8% per year, and the budget will additionally up to 0,5 billion euros

A source: A REGNUM

Tags: Estonia, Baltic States, Shipping, Ships, Economics, Research, EU