Open arms greet private investors
Monday, 30 April 2012 | 00:00
Major ports have undertaken aggressive expansion plans to boost capacity such as dredging and development of new berths using the Public Private Partnership model.
Guidelines for private sector participation in India's Major Ports encourage multinationals to become involved with 100% foreign direct investment.
Gujarat has been following a proactive policy of private sector participation that led to development of private ports like Pipavav, presently part of the APM Terminals group and Mundra port, part of the Adani group.
Angre, a greenfield port promoted by the Chowgule Group, 110 nautical miles south of Mumbai, is an example of a specialist port, targeting agricultural produce from western Maharashtra and nearby areas of Karnataka. Chowgule owned 270 acres of land so could implement the project in just four years.
The Indian government is implementing a National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP) to set the parameters of PPPs, to ensure that private sector monopolies are not created.
All major ports covered by the Major Port Trusts Act must adhere to rules whereby, for example, if there is only one private terminal/berth operator in a port for a specific cargo, the operator will not be allowed to bid for the next terminal/berth for handling the same cargo in the same port.
Strict criteria are applied, and permissions have to be obtained, for long-term leases of waterfront and port facilities like existing berths, offshore anchorages, transhipment jetties etc on captive basis.
Where more than one eligible bidder is received for facilities like land and waterfront access, ports are encouraged to offer captive facilities to all eligible applicants if sufficient facilities are available.
Against this backdrop of ports becoming landlords and the larger operators being invited in to run terminals, private investors have been keen to come on board. Predictions are that by 2015 the private sector will handle half of the nation's cargo movements.
The Bangladesh government is following a similar tack, in trying to create a more open and competitive climate for private investment, both foreign and local.
Its open-door policy has welcomed direct foreign investment in export-oriented and high-technology industries. Specific opportunities listed by the Bangladeshi government include investment in infrastructure projects such as power generation, oil, gas and mineral exploration, telecommunications, ports, roads and highways.
This drive for foreign investment is being spearheaded by the Board of Investment, which was created to provide assistance to investors. The board is headed by the country's Prime Minister and it includes Ministers and Secretaries from the concerned ministries as well as representatives from the private sector.
Source: Port Strategy
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