• 2017 December 22

    Vitaly Klyuyev about mitigation of administrative burden

    It is recognized that administrative burden hinders the development of business. Yet, international and national regulations are introduced to ensure safety and environment protection, prevent illicit activities and unfair competition. Vitaly Klyuyev, Director of RF Transport Ministry's Department of State Policy for Maritime and River Transport, tells IAA PortNews about the ways to avoid overregulation of shipping and simplify the document flow system.

    - Mr. Klyuyev, what are specific features of shipping regulations?

     - The shipping is global. Administering of this activity is the competence of the International Maritime Organization, International Labour Organization, International Telecommunication Union, World Health Organization, etc. Many rules and requirements, so called administrative barriers, are based on international documents.

    Russia also has its own national regulations including the Merchant Shipping Code, Inland Water Transport Code, EEU Customs Code and other documents.

    Administrative barriers are not always bad, it is important to understand their purpose, sometimes they reflect the facts of life. For example, the SOLAS Convention (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) was adopted in response to the Titanic disaster. Following the Erika and the Prestige incidents, when oil spill caused environmental damage along the European coastline, single-hull tankers were banned for operation. When it became clear that sulphur contained in marine fuel causes air pollution it was decided to reduce sulphur content in bunker.

    - In this context, barrier is a synonym of protection …

    - Essentially, yes. Restrictions are not driven by a wish to overadminister the process, they are intended to prevent incidents or disasters from happening again. Besides, administering lets streamline and harmonize the interests of businesses and the public as well as solve state tasks.

    I would divide all documents setting requirements for vessels into four basic groups. The first one includes documents related to the legal status of a ship since all vessels are subjects of law, international and national. Another package of documents relates to technical characteristics of ships to confirm to their sate under international and national standards. Then comes a list of procedures related to ship calls and departures from ports. Finally, comes the crew. According to different standards, crewmembers should have certain qualification and have identity documents to cross state borders.

    - Apparently, it takes more than a month to collect all the documents required for taking the sea? 

    - In 2004, after an administrative reform, when the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation obtained a new status, it took 30 days and more, if the documents were ok. In 2010 we conducted a sort of a revolution in this respect and this period reduced to three days.

    As of 31 December 2017, a Harbour Master should register a ship (initial registration) for only one day. This requirement is contained in the new Order of RF Transport Ministry No 191, which approves the regulations for state registration of vessels, rights for vessels and transactions with vessels.

    - How did you accomplish this?

    - We divided the procedure – initial registration takes one day and then it takes three months for a Harbour Master to check the documents. If everything is ok, a vessel obtains a permanent document. In case of improper execution of documents the initial registration will be cancelled.

    - Is the initial registration document the same?

    - Yes. It is of the same legal force.

    - What about international shipping?

    - The document is the same and a Harbour Master has three months for checking and for all administering procedures required. Having issued a permanent document a Harbour Master will not have that right any more.

    - Are there any other measures planned for simplification of registration procedures?

    - The next step is introduction of ship’s documents in e-format. For that purpose, introduction of amendments into the Merchant Shipping Code is required. The amendments will let us issue ships’ documents with an electronic signature. That will considerably decrease the time of applicants’ contact with state registration bodies.

    - Will that also let solve the problem of issuing permits for ship radio stations?

    - When we were preparing documents for reducing time frames for issuing ships’ document to one day, the Ministry of Communications, which is in charge of this issue, was against reduction of the registration terms and introduction of e-documents. The logic goes, it is the Ministry to initiate such decisions. However, we managed to come to agreement on this matter.

    In 2004, it sometimes took 90 days, or even half a year, to issue a permit for a ship radio station. In 2010, that period decreased to 10 days. Next year, with certain amendments introduced into the regulatory laws, permits for ship radio stations will be issued within three days before state registration in the Ship Registry. So, obtaining of a permit for a ship radio station will not hinder state registration, which is problem today.

    Besides, the Ministry of Communications is set to issue e-permits in the future. Yet, it is not clear when it happens.

    - What about obtaining international documents?

    - The International Maritime Organization, which numbers 172 Member State today, has adopted more than 50 conventions and more than 40 codes, which are obligatory for shipping. Almost all of them require obtaining of documents confirming compliance of vessels or shipping companies with the requirements.

    IMO is continuing this work. For example, under the Polar Code which came into force on 1 January 2017, three new obligatory documents are required. Safety Code for Gas-Fuelled Ships also introduced documents to confirm the compliance. At last, Ballast Water Management Convention which came into effect on 8 September 2017 will also mean obtaining of additional confirming documents.

    Requirements are getting tougher for seafarers as well. In particular, IMO adopted Polar Code Amendments to STCW, hence two more documents to be obtained by seafarers. Ballast Water Management Convention requires that seafarers should be trained accordingly. So, more and more certificates are required.

    This process never stops. Besides, the International Maritime Organization has a very efficient instrument, port state control, making vessels and shipping companies perform that in full. Non-compliance is not possible. A vessel will not leave a port if at least one document is missing, expired or not correct. Compliance with are requirements is getting not only difficult but almost impossible.

    We have analyzed the situation. In 1986, it was necessary to have 25 obligatory documents to comply with IMO requirements, in 2003 – 60, in 2017 - 105. This bring up a dilemma – we ether continue extending the list of documents or break this trend and start decreasing the amount of required documents.

    Transfer to e-documents will not solve the problem, though it will make life somewhat easier. With the number of documents staying the same each of them should be managed to know when it expires and to undergo certification. Finally, the documents should be executed and signed.

    - How can the situation be changed, in your opinion? 

    - The Russian Federation has come forward with an initiative to start handling a problem of organizing IMO documents. In particular, we suggested that the situation should be analyzed and the findings should be used for the optimization of the content and the amount of documents, proposals should be made and an instrument should be created by IMO for systematization of documents.

    We have also initiated a ban for any ship related convention, except for SOLAS, to generate new document requirements having concentrated all ship’s document requirements in one place to reduce the number of documents radically. In our opinion, it is possible to reduce the number of documents from 105 to 50, or, preferably to 25. That would be a return to a practice of 25 years ago.

    That suggestion was heard – IMO Assembly instructed the IMO Council to follow the way proposed by Russia and to find a solution within a two-year period. A report is expected at the next meeting of the IMO Assembly in 2019. I hope for this progress to happen so that captains could return to handling vessels not papers.

    - Will the procedures for certification of seafarers be simplified?

    - Certainly. In 2004, obtaining of a certificate of competence or a diploma could take 40-60 days not including training. From 2010, when new rules for certification of marine crafts’ crewmembers (Order No 62 of RF Transport Ministry) it became possible to streamline this bureaucratic procedure and to reduce the time for issuing documents to 30 days. In 2017, we have undertaken simple administrative measures to reduce this time to one day, actually to 15 minutes.

    Nevertheless, the problem of numerous confirming documents required from seafarers is still pressing. Today, each seafarer should have documents confirming its skills and experience. Special paper is needed for each qualification. Sometimes it results in the need of more than 15 document required for a seafarer. We have set ourselves a task to integrate all the requirements in one document which will specify all competences of an individual. That will be one document covering everything. I would emphasize that not everything depends on us, I mean our country. It also depends on STCW which initiates more and more documents.

    - There is an e-database with everything about everybody, isn’t there?

    - First of all, everything should be concentrated in one document. We are working on this together with the IMO.

    The next step is the activities similar to those with ship’s documents, that is a common e-format for a certificate. We have set a task for ourselves and I would like to inform: in 2017 Russia’s State Duma has approved the draft law on introduction of amendments into the Merchant Shipping Code of the Russian Federation to let seafarers’ certificates be issued in e-format. 

    The first law-making step has been made. Now it comes to technical implementation and regulatory enactment. We also think that either IMO explanations will be required or amendments into STCW or STCW Code.

    We are going to submit an appropriate proposal to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in May 2018.

    I would like to thank the Federal Marine and River Transport Agency, the Rector of the Admiral Ushakov Maritime State University in Novorossiysk and the Permanent Representative of Russia to IMO for their active efforts in that process.

    I am sure we will be able to concentrate everything in one document and issue it in e-format.

    - In Russia?

    - I hope, both in Russia and worldwide.

    Interviewed by Nadezhda Malysheva