Kristiansund port overcharged call fees
Norwegian ports has for several years misinterpreted Harbour Act and overcharged Hurtigruten among others for many millions, states the Ministry of Transport. Kristiansund port clarifies that money does not just go to Hurtigruten.
Initially, the ministry‘s decision entails that Kristiansund port will have to pay back NOK 17.6 million to shipping companies for over-billing from 2012 to 2015. For Hurtigruten, which pays around NOK 110 million in port-related costs every year, the amount is around NOK 2 million, the shipping company informs NTB.
The controversy revolves around what ports should be able to include in docking fees that shipping companies should pay for their ships to be able to visit the ports. Hurtigruten states that they experienced what they describe as a worrying growth in port costs after the new Harbour Act came into force. After the audit firm KPMG revealed extensive errors in port fees accounts, Hurtigruten has demanded a refund tens of million from a total of 29 Norwegian ports.
21 Ports indicted
KPMG’s reports showed systematic over-billing in a lot of ports, including in Kristiansund, Tromsø, Molde, Ålesund and Harstad.
However, the ports chose in consultation with the port associations to ignore the reports and rejected the objections, among others, Hurtigruten had against over-billing.
The Ministry now states that call-fees can only cover certain specific costs, excluding large parts of the operating costs, such as Kristiansund and Nordmøre harbour has done.
21 ports are indicted to the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA), and Kristiansundport is one of two harbours that have been barred from levying of port charges.
In the decision, the ministry also states that the NCA, as the port’s supervisory body, can overrule the ports’ own assessments.
– This again shows that our demands for a cleanup in Norwegian ports are entirely appropriate and critically important. It is even more serious when the port managers, The Norwegian Harbour Association and KS Bedrift Havn has consistently defended this illegal practice, not just in Kristiansund, but all along the coast, says CEO Daniel Skjeldam in Hurtigruten.
Met by threats
The company points out that it is in conflict with Kristiansund and Nordmøre harbour has been revealed extensive errors in billing. Among other things, it appears that representation and advertising purchases have been charged to the call fee requested from all port users.
– We asked for documentation that the port management operates under the law, but were faced with threats. The new decision by the Ministry of Transport shows that we have been right all the way. We expect the ports now to rectify and repay overcharged fees to the users, says Skjeldam.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today