ECONOMY

Port upgrade promised

Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis promised to upgrade security at Greece’s biggest ports and to provide «airport-level services.» He also declared himself open to the provision of services by private companies if this would upgrade port operations and benefit users. Kefaloyiannis, in his first press conference since his appointment, said that his main aim was to improve port infrastructure and modernize operations in order to make ports safer. «Toward this end, we are studying the examples of the most successful ports worldwide,» he said. Kefaloyiannis mentioned the necessary changes in order for Greek ports to comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. He said adaptations are being made at a fast pace and that Greece will be ready by the July 1 deadline. The ISPS Code, adopted by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Diplomatic Conference of December 2002, also provides for added measures to prevent terrorist attacks on ports. This entails an extra cost for ports that the state budget will cover, Kefaloyiannis said, including for the partly privatized port authorities of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, which operate the country’s two largest ports. Security operations have been advanced at the port of Piraeus, in which 11 cruise ships hosting over 3,000 Olympic officials and visitors will moor in August this year. Transparency Kefaloyiannis paid special attention to the issue of transparency in public procurement tenders. He announced that he had canceled a tender related to information technology systems, a project budgeted at over 2 million euros, because the terms of the tender contained illegal provisions, apparently designed to favor one of the bidders. He also announced that he had canceled all procurement contracts worth up to 45,000 euros. «Transparency was a central issue with New Democracy. We, here at the Merchant Marine Ministry, will do everything to promote transparency,» Kefaloyiannis said. Responding to a question by Kathimerini on the Vessel Traffic Management and Information Services (VTMIS) system, which has been ordered but not delivered yet, Kefaloyiannis said that the issue is being handled by the ministry’s internal investigations department. The new minister will submit, within the following weeks, a six-month plan on the priority measures to be taken to aid all aspects of shipping – passenger and merchant, domestic or ocean going. This would include an upgrade in the training of sailors and officers. «We will maintain, indeed upgrade, the National Shipping Policy Council. We want more jobs for Greek sailors,» he said.