-- Wants increase share from 25 percent to 30 percent
President George Weah has called for an amendment to the maritime agreement between the government and the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) to increase the country's revenue share.
The President in a letter to the Senators disclosed that the amendment, when ratified, amongst other things, seeks to provide an increase in Liberia’s maritime authority share of program revenue from 25 percent to 30 percent.
Additionally, President Weah asserted that the ratification would allow agents to be more aggressive in seeking new business expansions and provide overall stability in the Liberian maritime program.
“Given the ongoing changes in international shipping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new OECD regulations prohibiting bearer-share corporations, as well as the increasing competitive shipping environment and the need to preserve the crown jewel of Liberia’s international reputations, we have approached the agents from both parties, and have mutually agreed that some structural adjustments to the current agreements are warranted so that the program can remain viable and thrive,” the President said.
The Liberian Registry – the second largest in the world – includes over 4,300 ships of more than 160 million gross tons, which accounts for 12 percent of the world's oceangoing fleet. The Liberian fleet is one of the youngest of all nations, with an average vessel age of 12 years. According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, Liberian-flagged vessels carry more than one-third of the oil imported into the United States.
It has become the preferred tanker flag in the world, with the recent addition of 2.7 million gross tonnes of new tankers. The Liberian Registry is administered by LISCR, a U.S.-owned and operated company that provides the day-to-day management of the country ship and corporate registry.
President Weah added that it is unfathomable that Liberia, as the largest maritime nation in the world, is not a member of the governing body which controls maritime policy. As such, an urgent attempt is needed to regain a seat to protect the interest of Liberia.
“As more changes to the International Maritime policies are contemplated to provide structural adjustments, in program operations to allow for an increase in net revenue transmitted annually to the consolidated fund,” President Weah assured.
The Liberian Registry was established in 1948 with the support of former U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius and, in 1959, Liberia became a founding member of the International Maritime Organization.
However, the Registry, since its inception, has been operated from the United States with the U.S. structure and principles governing the Administration of the Liberian Registry are embedded into Liberian law.
It is noted that the Registry must be principally operated from the U.S. and managed by international maritime professionals for the benefit of the people of Liberia and serve as a sovereign maritime jurisdiction responsible for the registration, regulatory enforcement, and safety of ocean-going ships. The Registry establishes identification details for ships and records legally enforceable documents, such as mortgages and bills of sale.
The Registry is also responsible for the enforcement of maritime treaties, including Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); the Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The Ship Registry runs in parallel with the Liberian Corporate Registry, which performs the same functions as the corporate registration service of any other government.
Through a motion by Senator Saah H. Joseph, Secretary of the Senate was requested to send the communication to “the appropriate committee.”