The Norwegian Shipowners' Association (NSA) had high hopes
of maintaining status quo while the White Paper on shipping policy was still pending. These hopes were not met in the Government's proposal for a National Budget, put forward last week, according to NSA. The net-wage scheme for ferries is to continue, but cuts are proposed
for offshore vesssels.
According to NSA, there are no proposals affecting the tax regime for shipowning companies or owners in the National Budget. NSA contends that Norway is still out of sync with the rest of
Europe, and the maritime industry in Norway has growing expectations for
this to be righted in the forthcoming White Paper, says Marianne Lie,
Director General of The Norwegian Shipowners' Association.
The Government announced a full evaluation of the tax system this fall. NSA calls on the Parliament to hold on
to the agreement that was reached for the seafarers three months ago. It is
clearly a need to determine a long-term policy for seafarers in connection
with the ongoing development of a White Paper on shipping policy, which is
due in the spring 2004, says Lie.
In relation to economic support for using Norwegian seafarers, NSA was
hoping the Government would continue supporting this in the Budget. However, according to NSA, the Government proposes to abolish the net wage system for seafarers on shuttle tankers and offshore vessels that was introduced on 1 July 2003, and instead introduce a 19 percent refund scheme. In reality, this means the Government is proposing to cut the existing arrangement by 50 percent.
Despite the bad news, a glimmer of hope was found in the Norwegian government's proposal to increase the allocations to industry oriented maritime research by 10 percent.