The government is considering not imposing the Capital Concentration Tax (1 percent) on shipping, as the meeting between the competent ministers and shipowners’ representatives in Piraeus revealed yesterday. The meeting by the ministers of economy, Giorgos Alogoskoufis, and merchant marine, Giorgos Voulgarakis, with representatives of the Greek Union of Shipowners (EEE) and the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee, based in London, reportedly discussed ways and methods for linking Greek shipping with the local economy. Alogoskoufis made a commitment to shipowners that the directive that imposes the tax on shipping companies will not be applied. Shipping companies had previously been exempt from that tax. The economy minister also referred to the government’s intention to take future measures so that the institutional framework for investments becomes more efficient and less bureaucratic. «We have built a relationship of trust with the shipowners and we intend to strengthen it with the appropriate steps,» Alogoskoufis stated. Voulgarakis said, «The Greek government guarantees adherence to the constitutionally protected institutional framework for shipping,» adding that «we have and we are supporting shipping, taking special measures to fully secure shipping business activity and its competitiveness.» The meeting also heard that Greek shipping is a key pillar for the country’s economy, employing 16,000 Greek seamen, while there are over 1,300 shipping enterprises operating, managing the Greek-owned fleet with 12,000 specialized staff. Foreign currency inflows from shipping hit 17 billion euros in 2007, while, according to the president of EEE, Nikos Efthymiou, «estimates for 2008 see it climbing even higher.» However, he also touched on the issue of the lack of officers in shipping, «and this does not help the development of the Greek register.» He then sent a message to the European Commission, saying that it has to realize that the support of European shipping, 50 percent of which is Greek-owned, is a necessity, otherwise the sector may suffer the same fate as shipbuilding. Excel Maritime completes Quintana buyout Excel Maritime Carriers has completed its acquisition of NASDAQ-listed Quintana Maritime, which will henceforth operate as an Excel subsidiary. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Excel is now turning into one of the biggest companies shipping dry-bulk cargo globally. Its fleet includes 47 dry-bulk carriers with a total capacity of 3.7 million deadweight tons (dwt) and has another eight ships under construction with a capacity of 1.4 million dwt. Its expanded fleet offers its clients a complete range of dry-bulk carriers so that it can serve all loads and ports internationally. Excel Maritime’s fleet is trebling, while the average age of its vessels has now fallen from 14.2 years to just 8.1 years. «This proves that despite the current credit crisis the market is open for profit-making transactions,» Excel stated.