Athens: Increasing business transparency and creating job opportunities will be central to the new Greek government’s ports policy, Thodoris Dritsas, deputy minister of economy, infrastructure, marine and tourism, said today.
Dritsas told the Greek parliament his ministry wants to mandate four essential requirements at ports, harbours and marinas around the country. These comprise: the guarantee of labour rights; protection of the environment; the involvement of small and medium enterprises to increase added value and social benefits; and transparency.
“The deliberate depreciation of public ports for several years with the aim of privatisation has created explosive and urgent problems,” Dritsas told parliament. “There are ports, particularly Heraklion, Volos and Thessaloniki, that lack critical skilled personnel and are threatened with collapse. All ports will be asked to raise this issue as a top priority, especially since such recruitment will directly improve the production activity and profitability.”
Furthermore, the debate must be reopened on the emergence of Piraeus as a shipping centre, and the necessary conditions of how that may be done, Dritsas said.
In line with the new government’s policies on tax evasion and corruption, black market trade at ports must be stamped out. “Ports, like marinas, will no longer be acceptable fuel smuggling areas, tax evasion and undeclared work,” the minister said.
The organisation and operation of Greece’s Coast Guard will be overhauled in Dritsas’ plans, in order to address issues of organised crime, smuggling, tax evasion, maritime security, protection of the marine environment, control of maritime borders, and search and rescue at sea.
The ministry also supports the reorganisation of pilotage companies, which will remain a public service.
Dritsas says he wants to install ship electrification systems at ports for environmental reasons. Such shore power supplies mean ships can turn off their auxiliary engines while in port, which cuts out diesel emissions.
The ministry also wants to cut operating costs for cabotage ships, and increase employment opportunities for Greek seafarers onboard these vessels.