The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) took its two decade contribution to the Public Treasury to near-$96 million following its last financial year in which total comprehensive income rose by 8.7 per cent.
Its annual report which were tabled in the House of Assembly, confirmed that it continues to be a steady if unspectacular revenue earner for Bahamian taxpayers at an average of just under $5 million per year since its creation in 1995.
The shipping registry, which is the authority’s most prominent function, added 1.458 million in gross tons during its latest financial year even though the total number of ships registered fell by seven.
“As at June 30, 2019, the register consisted of some 1,552 ships totaling over 65.17 million gross tonnes, with an average age of 15.82 years,” the authority’s annual report said.
“The Bahamas flag continues to attract the eminent and most respected shipping companies in the maritime industry who are not only leaders but also pioneers in the industry…..
“For the fiscal period The Bahamas remains the largest flag for passenger ships, with other 160 passenger ships registered, and where new registrations included new buildings that ranged from a small expedition ship to one of the world’s largest passenger ship. There are ongoing preparations for additions by new entrants to the sector.”
The annual report added that The Bahamas continued to be a “leading flag” for liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, featuring 121 ships weighing a combined 10.9 million gross tonnes on its registry at end-June 2019.
The total tonnage of registered offshore vessels grew during the year to more than 8 million, with this class accounting for 15 per cent of all ships on the registry.
“The authority’s value proposition of quality customer service delivery has enabled a continued growth of the fleet size through market retention and acquisition of new business,” the authority’s annual report said.
“This increase of the fleet has resulted in the operating profit for the Authority exceeding $16m for the last four years.
“The balance sheet remains strong with operating revenue before taxes of $5.06 million compared to $4.67 million in 2018. This level of return has contributed to the Authority remitting $95.7 million to The Bahamas’ consolidated fund from inception in 1995.”
The Authority described strengthening its “financial sustainability” as one of its “core strategic objectives” during the current 2020 financial year.
It is attempting to achieve this from an already-solid platform, with operating revenues jumping to $16.89 million in 2019 as compared to $16.252 million the year-before.
“For the 2019 fiscal year, the net operating cost of the Authority was $10.028 million, an increase of $272,378 or 2.8 per cent compared with the 2018 costs of $9.755 million.
The increase is mainly due to the increase in operational cost attributed to the opening of a dedicated office in Japan, and an increase in staffing levels.
“The authority is making a conscious effort to reduce operational costs while balancing the need to maintain the level of customer service to attain and retain customers.”
The authority’s annual report said The Bahamas had maintained its “low risk” status as a shipping flag, retaining its status on the Paris and Tokyo inspection regimes’ “white lists”.
Only 26 Bahamian-flagged ships were detained following in-port inspections during 2019, a decline from the prior year’s 28 detentions.
Source: The Tribune