ECONOMY

New ministers see hope in old practices

The government will do its utmost to support the country?s merchant marine and broaden its contribution to the national economy, the new Minister for Merchant Marine and Aegean Costas Mousouroulis has pledged.

?The merchant marine can fast and decisively lead Greece out of the crisis, lead us to growth. We shall make the best of this potential and support the Greek register and ocean-going shipping… We shall ensure the viability and smooth operation of the Greek ferry industry. It is our immediate priority,? he said at the handover ceremony on Friday.

Outgoing Minister Yiannis Stournaras, whose development and competitiveness portfolio included the merchant marine, said that ?the decision to reinstate the Merchant Marine Ministry was correct. There are serious and urgent issues. Shipping?s contribution to employment and growth can be tripled. However, you will need luck, too.?

Deputy Merchant Marine and Aegean Minister Giorgos Vernikos said the omens were good for the new start.

?The Merchant Marine Ministry has been reinstated and is to incorporate the coast guard. Merchant marine policy without the coast guard is a non-starter. At last, we have a government that can deal with crucial issues.

?It is the first time that an active businessman will participate in Cabinet. I want to be useful and efficient. We have a full sense of the critical nature of the situation,? Vernikos said.

At the Agricultural Development Ministry handover, newcomer Athanasios Tsaftsaris said Greek products, which provided the basis for the country?s economic development in the past, should regain their place on the international market.

?We would never have had a textile industry without cotton of excellent quality. We would never have had a tobacco industry without good tobacco, or wineries and peach canning without grapes or peaches,? he said, arguing that new opportunities always come along. ?Just like people once talked about Greek raisins, tobacco, cotton and the fresh fruit and vegetables of our country, they must start talking again about Greek yogurt. Its consumption in the West quadruples every year. Processed vegetables should follow,? he said.

Outgoing Minister Napoleon Maravegias, who is an academic, said his successor would need a great deal of good luck. ?I feel like I am being discharged from the army. The weight of this ministry these 35 days has been enormous,? he said.