Shipowners deem new tax as unconstitutional

By Nikos Roussanoglou

The Union of Greek Shipowners considers unconstitutional a Finance Ministry tax initiative last December that tripled the capacity tax on all vessels in Greece.

Theodoros Veniamis, the head of the union, told members on Thursday that the three-year tax which applies to all ships belonging to Greece-based companies, regardless of their flag, amounts to “a blatant violation of the Constitution.”

He added that it practically cancels out the union’s preceding voluntary initiative which led to an agreement with the government for the optional doubling of the capacity tax for three years. Almost 3,000 ships, representing the vast majority of the Greek-owned fleet in terms of capacity, had been committed via that process to the voluntary doubling of their taxation, according to the president of the shipowners.

Veniamis said he hopes the government soon realizes that adopting the measure will not bear the desired results, as has been the case with other measures of similar character.

He went on to note that the revenues shortfall that the government had anticipated from the voluntary contribution could be covered either by attracting more new vessels to the Greek register or discussing other ideas that would be mutually acceptable.

Greek shipowners currently have orders for 372 ships at international shipyards, stated Veniamis, reminding his audience that the Greek-owned fleet retained its global lead in 2013, controlling 16.25 percent of the world’s fleet based on capacity. Greeks control 23.5 percent of the global tanker fleet and 18.5 percent of the world’s dry-bulk carriers.