Solomon Islands Maritime Association (SIMTA) wants justice in the Solomon Islands Government’s (SIG) tax levy on fares and freights imposed on seafarers and the shipping industry.
It was reported the tax levy is very high compared to that imposed on other sectors in the country.
SIMTA representative, George Takeli, highlighted this hefty levy imposed on seafarers and the shipping industry during the celebration of the International Day of Seafarers in Honiara.
“SIG tax levy on fares on seafarers and freights is too high compared with SIG tax levy on fares in other sectors,” he said.
Takeli, who was once a seafarer, also highlighted other challenges faced by seafarers in the country.
One of these other challenges is the high cost of fuel.
“SIG doesn’t support the shipping industry in the country, high cost of meeting the operation costs or running a shipping business is hefty and the revenue collected from the ship’s operation is minimal,” he said.
These challenges have forced most ship operators to liquidate.
Takeli said SIG must look seriously at these challenges and support the shipping industry in the country by cutting the hefty tax charges.
“The SIG government does not really support the shipping industry in Solomom Islands.
“In 2022, during the COVID-19, SIG only allocated stimulus package funding to support other sectors. It did not allocate any funding support to the shipping industry and this left SIMTA to struggle by itself, resulting in some shipping companies closing down their business operations during the severe destructions caused to our businesses and economy by the COVID-19 storm,” he said.
Despite the lack of recognition from SIG, seafarers’ transport about 90 to 95 percent of the international and national trades vital for the economy of the country.
Seafarers ensure that the global and national supply chain is running and delivers goods and services to islands across the country.
Seafarers and the shipping industry do not only transport goods and services, but people as well – government and private sector administration and work and church mission work in the islands.
During times of natural disaster, seafarers and the shipping industry transport relief supplies to the affected areas. They also contribute towards protecting the ocean environment. With these advantages from the seafarers and shipping industry, they want fair treatment on tax levies just as like other sectors in the country are enjoying for the sustainability of the industry and the provision of jobs to seafarers still without a job.