Snagg: Port deal successful – Eustace questions agreement
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August 6, 2010
Snagg: Port deal successful – Eustace questions agreement

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has described the recent agreement reached between the management of the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority and some shipping companies from Florida as “very disgusting”.{{more}}

But less than 24 hours after Eustace made the statement on the New Democratic Party’s New Times programme, Edwin Snagg, Chairman of the Port Authority, responded on the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) “Shake Up” claiming that he believes Eustace has “lost it” and “the business community should wonder where is his real interest.”

On Tuesday, August 3, Eustace told Vincentians while Snagg boasts about the success of a recent settlement with shippers that do business with St.Vincent and the Grenadines, this country will lose approximately EC$500,000 and more per year from that agreement.

He stated that instead of receiving a 10 per cent fee on the orginal tug service charge which ranged from US$1,100 to US$6,500, the Port will now receive a 10 per cent fee on the reduced tug service charge which now stands at US$1,000 for ships 650 feet and under.

According to Eustace, additional losses stem from the Port Authority agreeing to remove the Heavy Lift Charge.

He said the Port will now lose approximately EC$3,750 per week in total from the five ships that paid an average of EC$750 per ship in Heavy Lift Charges. He added when the figure for 52 weeks is rounded off, the Port will be losing approximately EC$200,000.

Eustace said the Port Authority will also be losing EC$300,000 worth of revenue for reducing the charge for storing empty containers by 50 per cent. He stated that on average, this generated funds annually that amounted to approximately EC$600,000 to EC$700,000 .

“Why is the Port giving up revenue to subsidize the tug boat service (operated by W.J. Abbott)? Why is the Port giving up its own revenue?” Eustace asked.

Eustace contended that the Port Authority is willing to lose that amount of money only so that they could reach a settlement with the shippers, with the only beneficiary being the tug boat service operators.

On the other hand, he argued that shippers struck this deal because they wanted compensation for the tug service charge.

“Mr. (Ken) Boyea and the others could talk what they want, that is a subsidy.

“What they should have done is reduce the $1,000 further. The Port should not have to give up its own revenue especially when the port is only getting 10 per cent of the tug boat charge,” he added.

SEARCHLIGHT’s efforts to reach Snagg on the issue were unsuccessful, but while responding to Eustace on “Shake Up”, Snagg addressed the issue of the Heavy Lift Charge.

Snagg said the Heavy Lift Charge was an old charge on the books of the Port Authority. He further stated it was a charge that was instituted when shipping at the Port had moved from bulk cargo (palettes and boxes) to containers.

This for many years forced the Port Authority to rent a “piece of equipment” from Geest to move the containers and as a result of this, depending on the weight, a fee was charged ranging from $30-$100, said Snagg.

Subsequent to that, the Port Authority purchased its own equipment, he disclosed. Snagg said the fee that was now charged related to handling from the ship to the point of storage.

“The argument that was put forward with discussions with the Caribbean Ship Owners Association, and we know that this was orchestrated by the local agents, is that the charge is antiquated and in fact is really a duplicated charge,” said Snagg.

“The reality about it, (is that) the ship owners raised it in the debates…Finally at the Port Management of the Caribbean Meeting in Canada recently, final resolution was brought to this matter and that included the removal of that charge,” said Snagg.

“The cost of business has also gone down. The Leader of the Opposition was on radio indicating that the Port has given up this amount of money to subsidize the tug service which is totally not so,” said Snagg, noting that this measure reduces the cost of business on every container, which will benefit the business community.

Snagg said persons leak information from time to time by passing documents to others, but on many occasions, the receiver does not understand “the implications of certain decisions that are taken.”

“There are a lot of people who mouthing and running their mouth, who have absolutely no idea what takes place with shipping. They don’t know that that industry is going through tremendous changes all the time. And at this particularly period, it is becoming more and more competitive. Those persons who are economists, etc., should expect those things,” said Snagg.

He said opposition critics have to be careful when they are pulling down citizens of the country who are doing voluntary work most of the time.

Snagg also used the opportunity to address the issue of restructuring of the Port which encapsulates the areas of infrastructural development, technological development and equipment procurement, and human resource development. (HN)