New Delhi: A monopoly policy that restricts private port operators from bidding for second terminal at major ports — administered by the Centre — is likely to go as it has come under the review of the shipping ministry.
The ministry has written to the chiefs of all 12 major ports seeking their views on whether the policy needs to be continued when the government is encouraging private sector investment in the port sector in the face of large investments made by private sector in this field.
Moreover, the share of private sector in handling the country’s port traffic has steadily grown. “All the restrictive policies are being reviewed. The stakeholders are being consulted on these and a decision to remove them is under active consideration,” said a senior government official.
As per the monopoly policy, an existing private operator cannot bid for the next terminal at the same port for handling similar cargo. This is aimed at preventing monopoly of a private terminal at major ports. The government has, however, now realised that the policy has lost its meaning and it needs to be scrapped to foster competition.
Since the number of private operators in the port sector was limited in the past, the government feared that more terminals in the hands of few companies could create a monopoly situation that could hurt users — traders and ship-liners.
But now the port facilities have significantly expanded with more and more private players investing into it allaying the fear of monopoly. “Now there is so much competition that if one operator raises tariff the customers will go to other terminal,” he said....