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Gov't urged to support maritime sector, reduce hiring fees: stakeholder

Gov't urged to support maritime sector, reduce hiring fees: stakeholder
Jekki Pascual, Feb 17 2023

MANILA - The government must explore ways to reduce fees paid by foreign shipping firms when hiring Filipino seafarers to avoid a decline in employment numbers, a stakeholder said on Friday.

Hiring Filipino seafarers has become more expensive, said WMOC President and CEO Rachelle Lopez said, who also organized the recent Expo Maritime Philippines 2023.

She said aside from Filipinos, foreign shipping lines are now looking at other nationalities as crew members since hiring Filipino seafarers has become a bigger investment for companies due to high expenses.

Expenses include fees, permits and tests that need to be paid, she said, adding that the potential employment decline is based on her observations and that there is no data available yet.

"To tell you honestly, sobrang nagkakaroon na tayo ng decrease of numbers in employing seafarers. There are some principals na inaayawan ng mga Filipino seafarers kasi namamahalan sila," Lopez said.

(We are having a decrease in numbers employing seafarers. There are some principals who are avoiding Filipino seafarers since its more expensive)

"Kailangan lang talaga natin tutukan, kailangan natin tingnan ano pa ba yung pwedeng tanggaling mga fees doon para maging marketable ulit ang mga Filipino seafarers," she said.

(We need to focus on looking at reducing the fees)

For example, a crew change of 21 to 22 people in Manila would cost shipping companies about a million pesos, but firms pay a smaller amount in other countries like Singapore, Lopez said.

Lopez said the government should also support the maritime sector by collaborating in the reduction of fees, improving training, and procuring additional vessels for training.

The European Commission is set to release its order to recognize or not the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of the Philippines.

If it finds the local standards unfavorable, the jobs of about 50,000 Filipino seafarers on European vessels may be at risk.

"Standardization ng training. Magkaroon ng collaboration ang maritime sector at the same time ating gobyerno. Kailangan na natin ng tulong," Lopez said.

(There should be standardization of training. At the same time, the maritime sector should collaborate with the government. We need help.)