In response to a number of recent steep fare hikes, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis has asked ferry operators to keep increases to reasonable rates ahead of the tourism season, well-informed sources said. At a recent meeting with coastal shipping executives at the ministry, Voulgarakis reportedly argued that rises should take into account the general economic situation and citizens’ ability to meet them. The sources said the minister warned that, if necessary, he would adopt measures such as the setting of a ceiling on fares, «particularly on those for economy class which have seen the steepest increases.» «Rises should be within the commonly acceptable limits,» he was quoted as saying. For their part, the ferry operators argued that recent hikes were necessary, as the price of oil in 2007 rose 70 percent compared to 2006. Additionally, they reiterated their position for the abolition of a number of levies in favor of third parties which amount to about 30 percent and are included in the fares.