SCASPA gets greenlight to collect fees directly for seaport and marine services

SCASPA Headquarters at Bird Rock

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 7TH 2012 (CUOPM) – The St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly has given the green light to the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) to amend legislation that will facilitate the on-going transformation process and give it greater scope in conducting commercial activity, especially in collecting its revenue and improving its cash flow.

Minister of International Transport, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt told parliamentarians that SCASPA provides many varied services to the aircraft and ships that visit the island.

“These services may not always be visible to the public, but which are vital to our country’s global trade and commerce, and the continued development of our tourism economy through international travel and tourism,” he said, pointing out that seaport and marine services include navigational, pilotage and harbour services and services to aircraft are primarily aeronautical, and include navigation, aircraft landing and parking services.

“Now in its twentieth year of operation, SCASPA has recognized a need to enhance its commercial relationship with the various craft and vessels that berth in our island,” said Minister Skerritt.

Looking at the Cruise Terminal at Port Zante from the bow of the Allure of the Seas

He noted that a similar initiative was done in 2011 when a series of amendments were passed that in effect, allowed for greater efficiency in the consolidation and handling of payments from airlines for airline passenger fees through IATA.

“The main objective of this amendment is to allow SCASPA to have greater flexibility in the collection of fees for seaport and marine services and at the same time satisfy the needs of its customers,” said the two-term nominated member.

The original Section 41 of the SCASPA Act states: “The person in charge of every ship or aircraft shall appoint an agent who shall be responsible for the payment of the dues and charges without prejudice to the recovery by the agent from the owner or person in charge of the ship or aircraft of such sums paid on behalf of any such ship or aircraft.”

“Mr. Speaker, the present Act does not contemplate SCASPA interacting commercially with ships owners. While SCASPA has longstanding direct operational links with many maritime transportation operators, the current law dictates that we must receive payments through agents. Paying for services through an agent while maintaining direct contact with SCASPA is not the way some of our shipping stakeholders prefer to do business. We have encountered several unfortunate situations where large sums of monies due to SCASPA were paid by transportation companies to their local agent, but not remitted to SCASPA until months later. Following our complaints in this regard, we have received requests from ship owners to make direct payments to SCASPA, but section 41 of the current ACT prohibits such direct commercial interactions from taking place,” Minister Skerrit told parliamentarians.

A container ship discharging cargo at the Deep Water Port at Bird Rock (Photos by Erasmus Williams)

Highlighting the benefits that the proposed amendment will bring, he said the amended section will allow SCASPA to directly bill and collect payments from ships for services rendered to them.

“The amendment will also allow the ships to settle their bills with SCASPA instead of through an agent. Ships that currently do business with SCASPA through their designated Agents can continue to do so, but SCASPA now has the right to do business directly with transportation companies if and when SCASPA finds it appropriate so to do. The proposed amendment to section 41 of the Act, will allow SCASPA to expand its role from merely a facilitator to an active business partner with the airlines, cruise lines and other vessels that visit our shores. The amendment will allow SCASPA to make commercial decisions in relation to its receivables like any other business entity, in a manner consistent with its strategic interests and vision and will also result in a speedier collection of receivable since the Ships can make payments to SCASPA, directly,” said Minister Skerritt.

The St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority is a statutory body created in 1993 with the passing of the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority Act. The main purpose of the Act is to provide for the establishment of an Authority, and to provide for co-ordinated and integrated systems of airports and seaports services.

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