At the Tokyo MoU’s Port State Control Committee meeting held in Singapore this week, INTERTANKO put over the growing concern from Members that facilitation payments are becoming more commonplace during ship inspections.
INTERTANKO’s Regional Manager Asia-Pacific, Tim Wilkins, spoke during an Industry Open Forum session at which Intercargo, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and the Association of Asian Classification Societies (ACS) also spoke and provided views and proposals for improved port state control inspections and regimes.
Wilkins focused on the information which has been obtained from Members through the Port State Control Inspection Feedback Forms (PSCIFF) noting that 11% of reports stated that the PSC inspector had proposed the issuance of an improved report in return for payment. He added that this provided interesting statistical information which backed up anecdotal reports relating to facilitation payments being requested by PSC inspectors globally.
While there was little opportunity for discussion during the meeting, it was clear that the facilitation payment issue raised by INTERTANKO was one that needed further attention by the PSC Committee. In particular, it was commented that it was time to begin sharing more details regarding this 11% of incidents with the relevant MoUs in an open manner.
By way of background, INTERTANKO has, through its ‘Port State Control Inspection Feedback Form (PSCIFF)’, provided its Members with a means of reporting these concerns regarding PSC Inspections. This feedback system has enabled INTERTANKO to collate this information and raise these concerns with the relevant port state control authorities and/or MoUs in a manner confidential to the reporting Member. This feedback system has been implemented with a view to improving inspector behaviour and inspection procedures.
INTERTANKO’s general comments at the meeting included the need for harmonised standards and training of inspectors; a global approach to inspection and targeting criteria; the need for the mutual sharing and recognition of inspection information across different MoUs; and consistency regarding Clear Grounds for Detention as well as standardised procedures for independent Detention Appeals. These were echoed by fellow industry associations including ICS, for whom Esben Poulson spoke, as well as Intercargo’s Rob Lomas. IACS’s Derek Hodgson provided a different angle of approach, focusing on the need for better alerts and information sent from the PSC to the Recognised Organisation in the event of a detention or deficiency.
Wilkins’ presentation can be viewed here.
The issue of facilitation payments in general has been high on INTERTANKO’s agenda for some time, in particular in the light of the UK Bribery Act 2010, which has now been in force for 18 months. INTERTANKO would be pleased to hear from Members with regard to other situations where such payments are demanded by officials. The Serious Fraud Office in the UK has in the past offered to assist specific industry sectors with problems with facilitation so we would like to be prepared to take specific examples to them to demonstrate the difficulties that the shipping industry faces with this common practice.