Law to enforce conventions

FIJI, through the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, has ratified one of the eight conventions that is being tabled for public submission before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.

Acting MSAF CEO John Tunidau told the committee yesterday that it was confirmed to MSAF that the Convention on Facilitation of the International Maritime Traffic (FAL convention) was ratified by FRCA in 1973. The convention, among other things, aims to prevent unnecessary delays in maritime traffic, especially for visiting vessels arriving in our ports

Mr Tunidau said all that was left was to establish national policies for all agencies that played a part in enforcing the convention such as MSAF, Fiji Ports and Customs.

“The FAL Convention or Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, that has already been ratified in 1973 for your information, by FRCA I will give you all the information on the latest international vessel conventions that has been ratified by Fiji,” Mr Tunidau told the committee.

“Unfortunately, we have tabled it but it has already been ratified. The only thing that is required is a guideline or policies for all the agencies involved. This involves Customs, this involves MSAF, this involves Ports for clearance of vessels when they come into the port.”

Deputy secretary for the Ministry of Transport Lui Naisara said maritime trade was important for a heavily import dependant country such as Fiji and the convention helped with the reduction of bureaucratic processes and documentation requirements when dealing with maritime cargo and passengers,

Mr Tunidau also explained following discussions with the Foreign Affairs Ministry that it was concluded the best way to ratifiy the eight conventions was to first have national legislation in place.

“Because most member states of IMO ratify the conventions.

“However, after five to 10 years, they do not have national legislation in place and they are not actually implementing the requirements of the international conventions. You can also ratify the conventions and then start drafting your national legislation but that delays the implementation.”

He said by 2016, it would be mandatory to be audited by the IMO, which made it more important to have national legislation in place that addressed the requirements of the conventions and speed up their ratification.

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