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Ship-owners expect significant proposals from the government rather than mere talk

13 September 2011 / 14:09:36  GRReporter
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Trying to raise budget revenues is praiseworthy but we should not forget that for many decades, the state maintained the cabotage for cruises, which resulted in the loss of many billions of euros. This is the opinion of the President of the Association of Greek Ship-owners Todoros Veniamis who did not remain silent to the attacks by the Greek government that the shipping industry has not contributed sufficiently to the local economy recovery. If the law restricting the sailing of foreign ships in the Greek Mediterranean Sea was canceled earlier, shipping revenue would have been much higher now and the foreign debt would have been billions less, explained Veniamis. "Competitiveness creates wealth and jobs, protectionism destroys them."

He emphasized that maritime law should be changed to ensure security of ports in order to attract the interest of big companies to the homeporting service. According to the Association of Greek Ship-owners, Greece is a very desirable destination, but there are many procedural and structural problems.

"If ports were connected to rail and road networks, today Greece could be the main logistics centre of the Eastern Mediterranean," responded the representatives of the shipping industry to the call of the Minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos the players in the sector to help the Greek economy. In his speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair, Venizelos stated admonishingly that the state needs more private capitals, turning specifically to ship-owners, and later announced yet another additional tax on private property.

Shipping industry in Greece is the largest industry in the country, and shipping companies with Greek participation exceed 750 and keep the leadership in the sector worldwide. The direct contribution to the state by this industry amounted to € 140 billion in the last 10 years and for the five months of 2011, the revenues in the budget from shipping companies reached € 5.5 billion. Despite the large contribution to the budget, the state has done very little or nothing to improve port infrastructure to keep the capitals from the shipping industry. For this reason, many companies are forced to offer their services under a foreign flag, which provides much better conditions for business and trade development.

In 2010, Greece's maritime trade amounted to € 15.42 billion, while its contribution to the GDP reached 6.72% and reduced the trade deficit by 35.28%. According to the Bank of Greece data, the revenues from shipping are the highest compared with other Member States of the European Union, in which the contribution of the shipping industry does not exceed 1%. Last year, which is considered one of the most difficult in the last decade, the export and the shipping industry were the only two sectors, which recorded a positive growth compared to 2009.

Despite the strong positions Greece could gain as a logistics centre of the Mediterranean region, the Greek ship-owners are adamant that the state does not invest in the necessary infrastructure to hold the foreign currency in the country and does not pay particular attention to the development of tourism. Therefore, ship-owners could not be expected to increase their investments in the country unless the government does not fulfill its obligations and gives green light for the development of necessary infrastructure. Fiscal instability, burdensome administrative procedures, technical delays in starting major infrastructure projects make pointless Minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos talks that the big business should help recover the local economy.


Tags: EconomyMarketsShipping industryGreeceCruisesCabotageCrisis
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