From March 2020 to December 2020, the entire world saw a huge halt; from commencing big events to buying grocery for living, people faced many difficulties. The entire world was praying for one thing and that is the vaccine for COVID-19. Coronavirus came with a turning plot for each and every industry. Many individuals faced troubles personally as well as professionally. Some lost their loved ones while some lost the source to keep their loved ones happy.
Talking about its impact on jobs in the shipping world, Lars Jensen, CEO, Sea-Intelligence Consulting stated, “The shipping industry could lose up to 40,000 jobs as more than 50% of the people in shipping lines work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic” ( Source: Offshore Energy). Whereas, The Directorate-General of Shipping (DGS) has estimated that 3,620 Indian seafarers would have lost their jobs to other nationalities on board ships between March 23 and June 30 as the lockdown restrictions derailed crew change plans both in India and overseas(Source: Seatrade Maritime).
As the shipping world is now balancing from its job losses and crew change issues, another storm hit the market and that is the NRI Status of seafarers.
Seafarers are suffering for losing their NRI (non-resident Indian) status. In the series of lockdown measures adopted by the central or state governments since mid-March 2020, in consideration with the Coronavirus pandemic, seafarers were at home for a lengthy period of time.
The Government of India needs to take corrective measures to qualify seafarers for NRI status for the current fiscal year. As the status quo emerged against their intentions. It is noteworthy that even though most of the business have ceased, seafarers work persistently without any interruption and they brought valuable foreign exchange to the country. So, it will be fair to give them priority by exemption of income tax for the fiscal year 2020-21.
But if nothing in this regards occurs, will the seafarers join the vessel before 31st March 2021 to cope up with the regulations or will the seafarers get ready to pay the tax as per the existing regulations? And yet again, the shipping industry will face the crew shortage.
Now the question is, how the industry will react to the upcoming crisis and how will shipping companies plan out for their future if govt. doesn’t give priority to tax exemption?