ECONOMY

Disagreement between ministries over port privatization

The subject of the first clash within the government appears to be the country’s main ports – specifically the privatization of the port authorities of Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

A senior Finance Ministry source said on Monday: “We are in favor of the privatization of Piraeus Port Authority [OLP]. We must encourage its privatization.” However, while reading out the government’s policy program, Alternate Minister for Shipping Theodoris Dritsas told Parliament, “We have already announced our commitment to stop the privatization of OLP and OLTH [the Thessaloniki Port Authority] to preserve the public character of the country’s ports.”

This incompatibility in statements from two ministries can hardly be viewed in a positive light by potential investors, which in OLP’s case include both Chinese group Cosco Pacific and APM Terminals, a subsidiary to the Denmark-based Maersk Group.

In cases where private interests already utilize ports, Dritsas said investors must ensure transparency, respect labor rights, work to protect the environment and involve small and medium-sized enterprises.