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fees collected from ship owners and cargo owners to defray the cost of constructing, maintaining, and operating hydraulic engineering and navigation facilities, fairways, and canals, as well as the cost of providing various services, including piloting, docking, supplying water, handling freight, and arranging services through agencies.
In capitalist countries, port charges vary depending on whether the ports and docks are under state, municipal, or private ownership and management. They may vary in different ports of one country and even at different docks of the same port. Basic port charges include tonnage dues, lighthouse dues, dock fees, anchorage dues, canal dues, berth dues, pilotage, river dues, tugboat fees, customs duties, sanitation dues, and freight dues. Port charges may be collected by state or local authorities. State charges are collected under fixed conditions and at fixed rates in all ports of a state, for example, Great Britain’s lighthouse dues and Finland’s ice dues, while local charges may be established by municipalities, port authorities, navigation offices, or private companies.
Port charges payable by ship owners may be compulsory or noncompulsory. Compulsory charges are collected whenever a vessel enters a port, regardless of whether the ship has ordered any services or not. Noncompulsory charges are collected only when specific services are rendered to the vessel. Both types are based on the vessel’s capacity in registered tons, its length and draft, and its commercial load, which includes cargo delivered or taken on and passengers. In most capitalist ports, ship owners pay charges that are set by taking several factors into consideration. They receive certain benefits once their port charges are paid depending on how often they use a given port on a regular route. Cargo owners pay charges based either on weight or volume of the cargo.
In the USSR and other socialist countries, where seaports belong to the state, port charges have been standardized and limited in number. In Soviet ports, tonnage and canal dues are compulsory for the ship owner. Tonnage dues are charged for net registered tonnage every time a vessel enters or leaves a port. Rates for tonnage dues vary in different basins and ports; preferential rates are extended to foreign vessels of states that receive most-favored-nation or national treatment from the USSR. Canal dues are charged for the net registered tonnage of vessels using fairways and canals. In addition to these dues, there is a charge for services performed by order of ship owners and cargo owners.
The procedure for calculating and collecting port charges and for establishing rates for services provided by Soviet ports is determined by rate manuals approved by the State Price Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and by the Ministry of the Merchant Marine. Corresponding manuals are published for foreign clients.
S. N. BURYKIN