50 pc seaborne cargoes in foreign trade must be carried by BSC vessels


Dhaka, Jan 28: The Cabinet has approved in principle the draft of the Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection) Bill 2019 with a provision stating that at least 50 percent instead of the existing 40 percent of the seaborne cargoes relating to Bangladesh’s foreign trade must be carried by BSC flag vessels.The approval came at the Cabinet meeting held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at her office on Monday.

“As per Article 3 of the draft bill, at least 50 percent of the seaborne cargoes relating to the country’s foreign trade will have to be carried by vessels of Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC),” said Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam while briefing reporters at the Secretariat.

He said the draft law was placed in the Cabinet as the existing Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection) Ordinance 1982 was promulgated during military regime, which was declared annulled by the Supreme Court.

He said the bill was drafted in Bangla though the existing ordinance is in English.

per the existing ordinance, at least 40 percent of the sea-borne cargoes relating to foreign trade of Bangladesh shall be carried by Bangladesh flag vessels, he said.

The articles 6 and 7 of the ordinance were abolished in the draft law.

According to the article 8 of the draft bill, if any vessel carries goods violating the provision of the proposed law, the maximum Tk five lakh will be fined. But there is no provision of pecuniary punishment in the existing ordinance, he said.

The Cabinet also gave the final approval to the draft of Bangladesh EPZ Labour Bill 2019 for making the Bangladesh EPZ Labour Ordinance 2019 promulgated on January 15 last, into the law as it is, he said.

“There’s no change in the draft bill,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

The ordinance reduced minimum membership requirement to create a workers’ welfare association to 20 percent in a factory in the Export Processing Zone (EPZ).

Earlier, 30 percent workers’ consent was required to form a workers’ welfare association.

Noting that an annual report on the cabinet’s decisions was placed at the meeting, Shafiul Alam said implementation rate of the Cabinet decisions taken in 2018 is 86.26 percent.

He said a total of total 313 decisions were taken at 35 cabinet meetings held in 2018. Of these, 270 decisions have already been implemented.

A total of 193 laws were formulated in 2018, while 10 ordinances were promulgated.