Presently, there are thousands of Indian seafarers stuck onboard ships. Consequently, there are thousands at home, awaiting joining instructions from their companies. The seafarers stuck at home are on the brink of losing their Non-Residential Indians (NRI) status.
Parliamentary rules laid by the Indian Finance Ministry states that an Indian seafarer has to spend more than 184 days or six months, to qualify for the NRI status. As a result, the prestigious foreign currency earned outside India will be deemed as non-taxable.
Indian seafarers account for a staggering 10% of the global seafaring workforce, making it the third-largest country to account for the global workforce. Consequently, thousands of Indian seafarers are anxious to join their ships after coming offshore previous year on completion of their contracts.
Many were undergoing the necessary bureaucratic formalities required to join ships in December and January when the pandemic struck, thereafter stopping crew change. This primarily happened because of flight stoppage and ban on inter-state travel throughout India. As a result, thousands are now faced with the problem of having their fortunes, earned on the high seas being subjected to taxations.
Abdulgani Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) said, ” Those seafarers are at risk of losing their non-resident Indian (NRI) status, ”
“The delay in carrying out crew change expeditiously will cost us dearly,” said a third engineer who joined a ship on Friday, nearly a year after his contract completion in July last year.
Seafarers are often at sea for an extended time and are highly unlike any other offshore job. One day, a seafarer may be in Mumbai, the other day at Singapore. The money they earn on international waters is the prestigious international currency that improves the economy of a country. By making this money taxable, is like driving a nail through the coffin of Indian seafarers who are struggling to even join ships and earn their livelihood.
Reference: Hindu Business line