Minister gets dressing down by Karamanlis over lack of serious initiative

The Merchant Marine Ministry must improve its work rate and address the concerns of shipowners about the Greek merchant fleet’s competitiveness, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told his minister, Manolis Kefaloyiannis, yesterday. In a meeting described by knowledgeable sources as «not as friendly as previous ones,» Karamanlis chastised the ministry’s lack of action on a number of issues. Concerning the Piraeus Port Authority, the two top managers, both approved by the ministers, are vying for primacy and have paralyzed decision-making. This has angered investors, especially foreign institutionals, who have found that the listed company is still functioning as a slow-moving and inflexible state agency. Karamanlis also spoke of the need for reforms in domestic passenger shipping to ensure reliable year-round connections between the mainland and the islands. His emphasis, however, was on the need to support oceangoing shippers, which the PM will call upon to invest in other sectors as well. Tax breaks for shippers are expected to be announced soon.