Plan for port modernization has role for private sector

The government intends to use private funds to develop the country’s ports, with 12 master plans already in place for infrastructure projects to be carried out over the next 20-25 years, according to Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, who discussed the issue with Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday. «There is great scope for using the framework of Public and Private Partnerships (PPP) for new investments in ports as well as other investments concerning the services of the Merchant Marine Ministry,» said Alogoskoufis. Kefaloyiannis added that the government tries to use all available tools, and PPPs are a useful tool for the development of the ministry’s policy. He then referred to the «capital gains hidden in Greek ports,» saying that the country’s harbors «have a huge development capacity, particularly after the 3 billion euros of funds from the European Investment Bank for projects of 6 billion euros in association with the private sector.» He combined the issue of ports with the prime minister’s recent trip to China, saying that it «has made new inroads into making Greek ports the center of transit trade in Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, the Black Sea and Southern Europe. These are the opportunities we are trying to highlight.» Kefaloyiannis revealed that there is already interest on the part of many private investors and big companies in specific ports «as on a global level there is an ongoing redistribution of port traffic. We are trying to cooperate with giants in the world’s economy.» He cited the example of China Shipping company, which «is examining locations to create a transit center for 1 million containers somewhere in the Mediterranean or in Europe. Candidates for this were Haifa, Valletta, Barcelona and, of course, a Greek island. We are even discussing the foundation of a new port in southern Crete,» he said. In the future the aim is for several privatizations of ports, which creates added interest for investments. «We discussed this issue but this is not an immediate priority,» said Alogoskoufis. He added, «We are now expecting the Merchant Marine Ministry to convey us its proposals for the improvement of port authorities – as there is already one proposal about improving port authorities through PPPs – as well as for maritime education and other initiatives besides ports.»

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