Shipbuilders will have strong order books for the rest of this decade, but demand for newbuildings will slow marginally in the five years to 2005. Britain-based Stephen Hanrahan, director of Ocean Shipping Consultants, said this at the Shipbuilding & Shiprepair '96 conference last week, according to Singapore Shipping Times. He said up to 2000, the demand for new ships would amount to 136.2 million gross tonnes with another 104.4 million gross tonnes projected for the 2001-2005 period. On average, demand for the rest of the 1990s will be 22.7 million gross tonnes a year. This will fall to 20.9 million gross tonnes a year in the next five years. 'The forward levels therefore represent large scale expansion, though the five-year total for the latter 1990s is still 22 per cent [31 million gross tonnes] below the level witnessed in the first half of 1970s,' he said. The new-building industry enjoyed a boom in the early 1970s. Over the next 10 years, demand for new-buildings will total 240.5 million gross tonnes. Of this, nearly 42 per cent will be for tankers. Charles Yap, president of Cebu Shipyard and Engineering Works, delivered the speech on behalf of Hoe Eng Hock, president of Keppel Philippines Holdings. Mr Hoe suggested that the government offer a helping hand to shipowners in the Philippines. It could grant tax and duty-free import of material and equipment for the construction of new ships for domestic owners to ensure the competitiveness of domestically built vessels. He added: 'Development banks or financial institutions owned by the government should introduce attractive financing schemes at reasonable rates to assist ship owners in shouldering the heavy financial burden of new-buildings.' The Philippines Government could also allow foreign professional consultants in marine engineering and naval architecture to operate there, he said.