Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis hinted yesterday at a possible lifting of the current age ceiling of 35 years for coastal shipping vessels, saying that Greece would have to harmonize its regulations with any European Union decision to that effect. He clarified, nevertheless, that until any such decision was reached, current legislation stipulated that the 35-year age limit would gradually have to be reduced to 30 years by 2008. The legal framework is given and will not change, he said, adding the ministry was open to discuss any objections on details. Coastal shipowners have warned the Merchant Marine Ministry that they will seek to have regulations brought into line with the rest of the European Union, where no age limit for vessels in the industry applies. Meanwhile, officials of the Union of Coastal Shipowners told the main opposition New Democracy party’s head of merchant marine affairs department Miltiades Varvitsiotis that the industry today was overindebted, while the ministry had yet to reply to their demands for an increase in fares, a review of the extensive discounts and the application of EU regulations regarding crew structure. Anomeritis also said in the coming days there will be a broad meeting on the modernization and security of ports in view of the Olympic Games of 2004. The first of these bills, a reform of the system of state tenders, is a key anti-corruption measure that would become effective in January 2003 – a timetable slower than the IMF may have liked. The Fund has said an image of widespread graft is one of the chief obstacles to Turkey’s economic recovery.