Business in support of port reform

Businesspeople are taking joint action to solve the problems created in the market’s operation by industrial action at the country’s ports, as the government prepares to pass through Parliament the bill for the concession of certain services at the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki. «The participation of the private sector in the management of ports and the creation of terminal stations operated by global administrators is nowadays the model applied by all developed countries in Europe and the world. Our position is clearly in favor of the participation of private investors in the management of the two biggest ports in our country, as it is now obvious that only then can we attract new investment and more know-how,» read a joint statement issued after a broad meeting of market bodies at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday. The statement added that the method chosen will upgrade the quality of services offered to Greek and foreign companies, noting that this will strengthen the competitiveness of Greek ports «so that the country can emerge as an international hub for transit trade.» The statement also contains a reference to other major ports in Europe, that are rivals to Greece’s, such as those in Constanta, Istanbul, Mersina and Izmir, saying they had become more competitive by signing strategic agreements with global administrators and making significant investments to increase their market shares. In contrast, the statement added, Greece’s biggest port, Piraeus, has dropped from 50th to 63rd position. «Unfortunately, Greece is presently one of only a handful of countries with a public system of port management,» the statement stresses. «Today, albeit belatedly, a step forward is being taken down the road dictated by international reality.» The bodies signing the statement call on the unions to stop their industrial action immediately as no worker rights are under threat. They also urge the main shareholder and managers of the ports to ensure the smooth transition of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authorities to their new operating status through any legal means available.