21 de February de 2017

Ship Operating Costs to Escalate in 2017

The operating cost of cargo ships has decreased for two years in a row, but it is set to increase as from 2017 pursuant to the last annual report on 2016/17 operating costs and forecasts, published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.

According to the report, 2016 was a very tough year for the majority of shipowners and operators. Weak freight rates, deterioration in the values of assets, erosion of profitability and low cash balances have forced shipowners to reduce costs whenever possible, including the vessels’ operating expenses.

Drewry’s assessment of 2016 operating costs for 44 types and sizes of vessels shows that the shipowners reduced costs for the second year in a row. The average decrease in the total operating costs of vessels among the different categories covered was 4.4%. This after a 1.5% fall, in 2015.

“The reach of new significant reductions of costs is limited. It is our opinion that the costs will increase in 2017 and afterwards, but maybe at levels lower than estimated”, comments the report editor, Nikhil Jain. The consultancy anticipates moderate increases in the crew costs as a consequence of the international wage agreements. The insurers’ excessive capacity and the competition among the insurance providers will help to compensate the impact of the increase in the assets’ values in the market of hull and machine insurances.

“Notwithstanding the relative youth of the world fleet, the disbursements with hull and machine insurances are expected to increase. The recent legislation concerning the modernization of the ballast water management systems will lead to a raise in the expenses; therefore, it is safe to assume that the expenses with repairs and maintenance will increase at rates higher than the inflation rate”, Jain adds.

21 de February de 2017

Government examines plans for the Port Sector

The proposals prepared by a work group created by the Ministry of Transportation, Ports and Civil Aviation (MTPAC) to unfetter investments and reduce the red tape in the port sector processes are under analysis at the Office of the President’s Chief of Staff. The draft will still return for new examination by the Ministry’s legal department. Then, the draft proposal may already be published so that the private initiative may learn about the new rules.

MTPAC created a work group formed by representatives of the Ministry and the National Waterway Transportation Agency (Antaq) to adjust the legislation of the port sector to modern requirements. The purpose is to propose new procedures and adequate the currently established ones in order to allow for the fostering of the port activities in Brazil, including the solicitation of foreign investors.

According to the Ministry, it took the group three months of work and 30 further meetings, which included getting together with entities of the sector.

Among the prepared proposals is the extension of the port terminal concession periods to 10 years more. The plan is that the areas may be exploited by the private initiative for 35 years, extendable for an equal period of time.

Today, the port leasing agreements have duration of 25 years, extendable for an equal period. It is expected that, as from the decree, the time period for exploitation of the areas may jump to 35 years under same conditions.

The plan would be valid only for new lessees. However, a precedent may be set so that lessees with shorter lease agreements may attempt to adapt accordingly.

Besides said matter, the Ministry work group is assessing the possibility of enlarging the areas and unifying the contracts, provided that they have same lessees. In this case, however, the separate bidding processes for the pieces of land may not be deemed feasible.

Necessary measures

Specialists consulted by ‘A Tribuna’ point out that the increase in the lease periods will provide more ease, safety and profitability to investors in the short run. Nevertheless, the plan has still to come along with adaptations.

One of these adaptations concerns the possibility of adjusting the already existing contracts to the new period. Moreover, issues such as the decentralization of decisions concerning the port sector and the professionalization of the port management were reminded as necessary to ensure advancements and increase the competitiveness of the Brazilian ports.

21 de February de 2017

Turnaround for importers

The recent struggle raised by importers with respect to the payment of the Tax on Manufactured Products (IPI) seems to have had positive results. Sundry importers decided to bring actions for non-payment of the tax at the time of resale to the national market of imported products.

According to importers, the application of the IPI tax can only take place at the time of customs clearance (imports). It is not possible that same tax apply again when the product leaves the establishment to be sold in the domestic market once no other manufacture occurs.

In June, Justice Marco Aurélio granted the injunction suspending the collection of IPI until a final decision is issued by the Federal Supreme Court (STF) following the filing of an extraordinary appeal by an importer that is discussing the issue in court along with the filing of a provisional remedy to operate a supersedeas.

In his decision, the Justice Marco Aurélio pointed out that, from the issue of the legislation and the National Tax Code – articles 46 and 51 –, a situation of excessive taxation was created to the importer when compared to the national manufacturer. According to the Justice, when producing goods in the Country, the importer is subject to the Tax on Manufactured Products (IPI) only when the product leaves the establishment while it is being cleared with customs and then on resale, although the importer is not actually manufacturing. “The application of the tax fails to level the national product to the similar imported one creating distortion between them”, he noted.

To Amal Nasrallah, tax lawyer, on analysis of the case, the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) deemed that the imported goods are subject to the application of IPI on occasion of customs clearance, and it applies anew on the resale operation, “once those are different taxable events, that is to say, it is not the case of “bis in idem” (double taxation on same act). With this decision, STJ reversed its prior opinion, which was in favor of the taxpayer”.

According to Nasrallah, although STJ has established that there is no “bis in idem” in this case, it is incumbent on STF to analyze the matter once such issues and double taxation are a matter of constitutional order. “Besides, the issue is very important for the constitutional jurisdiction in the tax field, since it deals with the limits for the definition of the cases of application of IPI”, he pondered.

16 de January de 2017