A bill seeking to provide greater autonomy in decision-making to 12 major ports in the country and professionalise their governance by setting up a Board for each one of them, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday.
The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016, which seeks to repeal the Major Port Trusts Act of 1963, was introduced by Minister of State for Road Transport and Shipping P Radhakrishnan. The new legislation, which would replace the Act, aims to provide greater autonomy and flexibility to the major ports and professionalise their governance.
It proposes to set up Board of Port Authority for each major port, in place of the Board of Trustees. “This will empower the major ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision making and by modernising the institutional structure of major ports,” the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said.
With a view to promote expansion of port infrastructure and facilitate trade and commerce, the measure aims at decentralising decision-making and aims to infusing professionalism in the governance of ports. It would also help impart faster and transparent decision-making, benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability.
The Bill is more compact in comparison to the Major Port Trusts Act, as the number of sections has been reduced to 65 from 134 by eliminating overlapping and those which were obsolete, an official release said.
The measure proposes a simplified composition of the Board of Port Authority which will have 11 members, as against the present 17 to 19 members, representing various interests.
A compact board with professional independent members will strengthen decision-making and strategic planning, the bill said.
The role of Tariff Authority for Major Ports has been redefined in the Bill which also gives powers to the Port Authority to fix tariff, which will act as a reference tariff for purposes of bidding for public-private partership (PPP) projects. The measure proposes that the PPP operators will be free to fix tariff based on market conditions.
The Board of the Port Authority has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets including land.
An independent Review Board is proposed to be created to carry out the residual functions of the erstwhile Tariff Authority for Major Ports, to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires, review stressed PPP projects and suggest corrective measures.