Positive medium to longer-term outlook for maritime industry: Josephine Teo
The shipping industry is currently in difficult waters, with the port authority seeing a decline in container volumes in 2015 for the first time since the 2009 global financial crisis.
But Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said there is a positive medium to longer-term outlook nonetheless.
“The maritime community here is resilient and adaptable,” she said in the Committee of Supply session in Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 12). “Employment levels in the maritime sector have also remained stable at around 170,000. With Government support, we believe that recovery in shipping will return, and broad-based growth momentum will pick up again.”
In response to a question about the sale of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), Ms Teo said: “We all feel a bit ‘sayang’ because it is like marrying off a daughter that has long been a flag-bearer for our maritime sector.”
“In its proposal to acquire NOL, CMA-CGM has made clear its intention to establish its regional head office in Singapore and commit more volumes through Singapore. This is a testament to Singapore’s importance as a maritime hub, and will reinforce Singapore’s leadership position in container shipping,” she said.
As part of efforts to steer the sector forward, the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) will top up a maritime research fund – the Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund – by fifty million dollars, and extend its term to 2021.
The fund helps researchers develop products for the maritime industry. A total of S$150 million has been set aside so far.
MPA is also setting aside S$12 million over the next two years to attract, develop, and retain local talent.
These include an internship reimbursement scheme to help students gain relevant work experience and defray costs incurred by employers when providing internship placements, a graduates attachment program for those fresh out of school, and a maritime career conversion course for those considering a mid-career switch.
About 5,000 individuals are expected to benefit from these schemes.