Port Wings News Network:
Terming it as “Double Jhatka – Double Fatka” for Indian seafarers serving on all Indian and foreign flag ships, National Union of Seafarers of India on 1 February 2020 announced that more than 3,00,000 Seafarers will protest against injustice and demand roll back of existing benefits reportedly “snatched away” in the General Budget.
Shri Abdulgani Y. Serang, General Secretary – cum – Treasurer of National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI), said, “This is injustice to all Indian seafarers working on merchant ships, cruise ships, rigs, platforms etc. It is injustice and a double whammy. Firstly, seafarers will find it difficult to qualify for NRI status and secondly, even if they qualify, they will have to pay Indian income tax in India as they are a floating population and do not pay income tax in any foreign country. Seafaring will lose its charm and India will not regain its present place of providing gainful and consistent employment to world shipping. NUSI is strongly taking up the matter with the Government of India to ensure justice to Indian seafarers.”
Shri Abdulgani Y. Serang stated: “The Budget 2020 has snatched away the existing benefits for seafarers to qualify for Non-Resident Indian (NRI) status. Presently also seafarers find it difficult to qualify for NRI status as they work on ships which trade in Indian and worldwide. The trading pattern of the ships depends on the cargo and is not in the hands of the seafarers. Increasing the NRI qualifying days from 182 days to 240 days will make it difficult for seafarers to become NRI. Secondly it is mentioned that even if you qualify for NRI status but do not pay any tax in the foreign country, still then the foreign income will be taxed in India. Seafarers are a floating population and not stationed in one foreign country. Their ships move around everytime. In this case, even if the seafarers qualify for NRI they will have to pay Indian income tax as they do not pay income tax in any foreign country.”
“This is a very very serious matter for seafarers. Seafarers have always been a special workforce throughout the world doing a specialised job on the high seas. Seafarers brave the storms, inclement weather conditions and rough seas and lately are also victims of piracy and armed robbery. But seafarers carry on our work with passion and integrity. Seafarers play an effective and constructive role during war and peace times. It was the Indian seafarers who kept the life line open during conflicts so that the export and import of the Indian economy does not suffer. It was the Indian seafarers who have assisted in natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, famine etc. Indian seafarers are also big foreign exchange earners. For decades, Indian seafarers have always enjoyed tax benefits available if they qualify for the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) status,” added Shri Abdulgani Y. Serang.