Central Port Authorities Act to replace Major Port Trust Act
The Ministry of Shipping has prepared a draft bill The Central Port Authorities Act 2016 to replace the Major Port Trust Act, 1963. The step is aimed at giving more autonomy and flexibility to the Major Ports and to bring in a professional approach in their governance.
Under the bill, the composition of the board has been simplified and it will comprise nine members including three to four independent members instead of 17-19 under the Port Trust Model, as per the draft of the proposed legislation.
Provisions has been made for inclusion of three functional heads of major port as members in the Board apart from a government nominee member and a labour nominee member.
The disqualification of the appointment of the members of the board, duties of the members and provision of the meetings of the board through video conferencing and other visual means have been introduced on the lines of Companies Act, 2013, the draft Bill says.
"Port related and non-port related use of land has been defined. A distinction has been made between these two usages in terms of approval of leases. The Port Authorities are empowered to lease land for Port related use for upto 40 years and for non-port related use upto 20 years beyond which the approval of the Central Government is required," it added.
Besides, the need for Government approvals for raising loans, appointment of consultants , execution of contracts and creation of service posts have been dispensed with.
The Board of Port Authority have been delegated power to raise loans and issue security for the purpose of capital expenditure and working capital requirement.
Besides the provision for maintenance of books of account and financial statements in accordance with the accounting standards notified under the Companies Act, 2013 or as prescribed by Central Government has been provided. "Concept of internal audit of the functions and activities of the Central Ports has been introduced on the lines of Companies Act, 2015," according to the draft.
The Board has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for service and assets and the regulation to tariff by TAMP (Tariff Authority for Major Ports) has been removed.
Also, an independent Review Board has been proposed to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for Major Ports, to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaries, to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to review stressed PPP projects and revive such projects.
At present, there is no independent body to look into the above aspects and the Review Board will reduce the extent of litigation between PPP Operators and Ports.