A Danish expert group has proposed to abolish the Danish International Ship Register (DIS) scheme which means that seafarers, whether Danish or foreign, do not have to pay tax on their wages on Danish ships, a move that it is considered ‘a disaster’ by the Danish Shipowners’ Association Danske Rederier.

The so-called Frigast Committee, which is an expert group tasked with looking at future business support and recommending changes to the schemes to increase structural employment by 4,000 full-time people and release DKK 2 billion annually, has included the DIS scheme in its recommendations.

As it is reported, in the long term, it is to be expected that abolishing the DIS scheme will result in significantly fewer Danish seafarers and fewer ships flying the Danish flag. The Danish Shipowners’ Association now says that the Committee has not further assessed the derived effects on employment ashore and others.

The shipowner’s organisation warned that abolition of the scheme would have major negative consequences for the country’s shipping sector, and said that in the short term, Danish seafarers will continue to sail, just under the flag of one of the neighbouring countries, whilst in the slightly longer term, there will be fewer and fewer Danish seafarers until they disappear completely.

As is it said by Danske Rederier, without the DIS scheme, Denmark will be drained of maritime competences, as shipping companies will not be able to recruit Danish seafarers in the long term. Without the DIS scheme, the Danish flag will not be competitive compared to other countries, such as Norway, Germany and Singapore.

Denmark today has the world’s seventh largest maritime industry, and there are more than 100,000 people employed in the maritime cluster.

“It would be a disaster for Danish shipping to abolish the DIS scheme. It is basically about maintaining Denmark as a large maritime nation with thousands of employees in Denmark. Abolishing the DIS scheme will lead to significant and massive flagging out of Danish-flagged ships to neighbouring countries and other maritime nations around the world.

“Immediately positions ashore must follow and in time we will also lose the Danish seafarers and important maritime skills. This is a highly uncertain experiment that should be kept far away. I cannot warn strongly enough against this,” said Anne H. Steffensen, CEO of Danish Shipping.