SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's marine ministry said Monday that 11 local small and medium-sized shipping firms have applied for the government's sale and lease back program (S&LB), part of its liquidity support scheme.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and Korea Ocean Business Corporation said they have received applications for 18 ships worth 341.5 billion won (US$305 million) in the first S&LB program of this year.
S&LB is the practice of buying assets from companies and then leasing them back to the original owners. This arrangement can allow companies to raise funds without disrupting normal operations.
The government plans to shortlist the candidates by the end of February and seek to provide shippers with funds starting March.
The marine ministry said the program, which was carried out only once in 2018, will be implemented three times in 2019 to provide local small and medium-sized shippers with regular liquidity support.
An official from the ministry said it plans to allocate around 100 billion won for the program for the whole of 2019, although the amount may change depending on conditions.
"The ministry plans to continue expand the scope of SL&B programs and provide more support to cash-strapped small and medium-sized shippers," the ministry said in a statement.