Port investment perks

The government intends to include Greece’s ports and cruise industry in its planned law on investment incentives, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said yesterday. «We wish the same provisions to apply to the merchant marine as for industry in general,» he told a press briefing. Kefaloyiannis explained the ministry plans to include all port terminals, whether for container, bulk carriers or passenger vessels, in a separate comprehensive chapter in the draft law, because today most of them are of limited capacity and cannot meet modern requirements. In contrast, the Piraeus port has received more than 1 million euros in investment funds in the last 20 years and the government is not considering the flotation of a second tranche of shares of the Piraeus Port Authority on the stock market. Ministry officials said efforts are under way currently with a view to promoting investment in new cruise ships. Referring to coastal shipping, Kefaloyiannis said it is generally in good shape but the industry needs six more vessels to meet requirements. He also stressed the need for shipping companies to form partnerships and said the new law will include incentives in that direction. Concerning the blocking of an EU directive on strict penalties for accidental sea polluters in Luxembourg last week, Kefaloyiannis said Greece will not accept any penalization and persecution of the merchant marine industry and insisted that the draft directive discriminated between EU nationals and non-EU nationals. «Our proposal is that the EU adopts at all levels and in all member states the strictest legislation for the protection of the (sea) environment, which is Greece’s,» he said. Despite the strong international reaction, Kefaloyiannis said he believes that Greece’s positions have been eventually understood and that the dialogue will continue at the expert level.