ECONOMY

Privatization of ports bill gets go-ahead

The bill conceding the service sectors of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports to private investors was passed last night, in principle, in Parliament. The government has shown therefore that it is determined to proceed with the major reform of ports that will boost their essential infrastructure and render them more competitive, using contracts that had been signed in 2002 and 2003 for the first time and conceding the management of ports to the Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities (OLP and OLTH, respectively). The upgrade of their infrastructure via the agreement of private investors to undertake their service sectors is estimated to bring in up to 450 million euros. New Democracy MP Simos Kedikoglou asked why PASOK will not approve the bill for the contracts originally signed when their government was in power. He added that nothing is being given away nor are the ports to go on sale, as they remain state property. PASOK deputy Nikos Zoidis replied that his party had ensured that the state would remain the main shareholder with a 51 percent stake and insisted that the main issue is who will be in charge of the management while predicting that those currently employed will soon be out of work. Elpida Pantelaki, a Communist Party deputy, argued that the government is selling off the container stations which are the most attractive part of each port, «to the teeth of the monopolistic groups.»