MOSCOW (Aug. 27)
As already reported the Council of People’s Commissaries ratified on July 27 an agreement for the formation of an ocean transport Bureau. The formation of this Company is an important step forward in the regulation of immigration and emigration from and to Russia.
The world war led to a complete standstill of emigration from Russia. Some time ago a revival in emigration became noticeable, but hitherto it has taken place under abnormally difficult conditions. The Russflot (The Russian Shipping Agency) and the Dobroflot (the Volunteer Fleet), which in accordance with the decree of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee had been granted monopolies, have not at their disposal at the present time sufficient tonnage to take over the whole business of emigration in Russian ships. As a result, emigrants were forced to have recourse to foreign shipping companies, the agents of which could not be subjected to proper control by the Russian Government.
Under these circumstances the treatment of emigrants has been anything but satisfactory. The accomodations provided on board the foreign vessels was bad and the food supplies insufficient.
The ratification of the present agreement puts an end to this state of affairs. But whilst attracting foreign shipping companies to participate in the transport of emigrants, this concession agreement at the same time places the actual control of emigration and immigration in the hands of the Soviet Government.
In accordance with the agreement the Ocean Transport Bureau is to be a mixed company, consisting of, on the one hand, the Russflot and Dobroflot, and on the other of foreign shipping companies: the White Star Line, the Hamburg-American Line, and the North German Lloyd. Participation in the company by these important foreign lines assures a sufficiency of tonnage in the future. At the same time the agreement provided for participation by other shipping companies in the future.
Russian immigrants and emigrants on Transatlantic routes will be carried exclusively on the vessels of the companies participating in the newly formed Bureau.
The agreement lays down definitely the quantity and quality of rations to be issued to Russian emigrants on board, as well as the area of deck space per passenger.
Among its other functions the Ocean Transport Bureau will exchange money for emigrants, under the direct control and with the participation of the State Bank. The new company is empowered to open departments over the whole territory of the Union of Soviet Republics.
At the same time, the constituent companies undertake to maintain no commission agents on that territory, conducting any sort of emigration or immigration business, and they undertake not to accept passengers who have not in their possession the necessary permits to go in or out of the country.
The basic capital of the company is fixed at Â£15,000 which is subscribed entirely by the concessionaires, who then hand over without charge 50 per cent, of the shares to the Soviet Government.
The shipping companies pay the mixed company a commission on every ticket sold. In addition, the companies pay the Government a special tax of $5 for each immigrant and emigrant. The mixed company also pays all ordinary taxes levied by the Government.
The agreemetn holds up to December 31, 1924.