Senate Grants Pres. Weah's Request, Amends LISCR Deal

 President George Weah.

The plenary of the Liberian Senate has amended the shipping agreement between the government and LISCR. 

The Senate’s decision followed a report from the Senate Committee on Maritime.

The Committee assured the plenary that the ratification would increase the Liberia Maritime Authority revenue share from 25 percent to 30 percent, which will, inter alia, facilitate the return of Liberia to the Council of the International Maritime Organization.

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's ship and corporate registry since its establishment in 1948.  And, in 1959, Liberia became a founding member of the International Maritime Organization.

The amended agreement, according to the Committee, is necessary for structural adjustment in the LISCR program and operation to increase Liberia's share of the revenue.

The Committee noted that the Liberian Registry has contributed immensely to the economy as a source of employment as well as contributing significantly to the national budget. 

The Senate ratification comes after President George Weah, on October 28, 2021, requested the Senate to ratify the first amendment to the extended and restated agency agreement between the Republic of Liberia and the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry.

President Weah added that Liberia has the second-highest registry in the World, but, regrettably, the country is not on the International Maritime Council. 

The country, according to the head of the Liberia Maritime Authority, noted the lost opportunity to have retained it's seet on the Council in 2019, but the amended agreement will change everything.

The Registry, since its inception, has been operated from the United States with the U.S. structure and principles governing the administration.

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.