Nirmala Sitharaman calls for strengthening legal systems in Maritime Industry

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday urged to develop capabilities and legal frameworks to establish an international arbitration center for the maritime sector in the country.

Speaking at the concluding day of the three-day global maritime summit, she highlighted the presence of many Indians working in international arbitration centers in London, Singapore, or Dubai, emphasizing the need for them to take a more prominent role in leading cases rather than assisting senior lawyers.

Sitharaman stressed the necessity of enhancing and aligning India’s arbitration processes and laws with international standards to facilitate the establishment of such an arbitration center. She acknowledged the challenges in securing financing for the maritime sector, noting that despite robust balance sheets, banks are often hesitant to invest due to the sector’s perceived higher risks.

To address this issue, Sitharaman disclosed her ongoing discussions with public sector banks to foster a more favorable attitude toward the maritime industry. She also encouraged private-sector lenders to take a proactive stance in financing both the shipping and maritime sectors.

Additionally, she recommended that operators explore independent fundraising through asset monetization, with nine of the 12 government ports having identified 35 projects for potential monetization, aiming to unlock projects worth Rs 14,483 crore as part of the national asset monetization pipeline.