MINISTER OF SHIPPING AND ISLANDS POLICY
Greece 2020 I Shipping I Leader
BIOGRAPHY Born in Athens, he studied biochemical engineering at the University of Wales. He then completed a Master's degree in biochemical engineering at the University of London before completing another master's degree in business administration at City University London. a member of New Democracy party since 1987, He was first elected at the Parliament for Lasithi in 2004.
“OUR GOVERNMENT BELIEVES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS ESSENTIAL FOR ALL ECONOMIC SECTORS.”
THE NEW GOVERNMENT HAS COMMITTED TO IMPROVE THE COMPETITIVENESS OF THE GREEK SHIPPING SECTOR. WHAT ARE THE MAJOR INITIATIVES AT THE MINISTRY?
Shipping is our national asset and has great social, economic, and strategic importance to our country. The sector is the healthiest and most extroverted sector of the Greek economy. Despite current challenges, Greek shipping continues to be in a position of leadership with a share of 53% of the EU and 21% of the world’s deadweight capacity.
At the Ministry, we are working on multiple fronts to develop the sector to its full potential and we want 2020 will be the year of change for Greek shipping. We want to create a national strategy for the industry through a framework that integrates all issues of economic policy, spatial planning, environment, and infrastructure. We want to make sure we can simply and truly solve issues affecting all stakeholders, including shipowners, investors, cruise visitors, and local communities. Given the challenges facing shipping today, there is a need to strengthen the Greek registry, support maritime education and capitalize on the investment interest being shown in Greek ports.
SHIPPING HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS AN ABSOLUTE NATIONAL PRIORITY. HOW IS THE MINISTRY PLANNING TO MOVE FORWARD ON IMPLEMENTING THESE MAJOR CHANGES TO THE SECTOR?
Currently, the Greek Register accounts for nearly over 720 vessels positioning the Greek-flagged fleet 8th internationally and second in the EU, although there are over 5,000 Greek-owned ships worldwide. We are working to increase the competitiveness of our registry by adopting good practices, cutting red tape and developing e-processes, including an interface linking the Ministry with the tax authorities and the Ministry of Development, as well as all other public services required by shipowners to register ships under the Greek flag smoothly and swiftly. We want to create a more friendly legal and tax environment for shipping to attract new investments and facilitate the establishment of foreign shipping companies in Greece.
“WE ARE WORKING ON MULTIPLE FRONTS
TO DEVELOP THE SECTOR TO ITS FULL POTENTIAL
AND WE WANT 2020 WILL BE THE YEAR OF
CHANGE FOR GREEK SHIPPING.”
We also want to make sure that we can exploit all major ports in Greece. Our country is situated in the crossroads between three continents and can serve as a hub for Asia, Africa and Europe. Recently, it was approved US$680 million master plan for the development Cosco-operated Piraeus port and the investment programme for the port of Thessaloniki is currently underway. We will also launch tenders for the development of 10 state-owned ports in 2020. We will be implementing a new model of port development, which will include partial concession deals or full management schemes. There is significant investor interest for all 10 major ports and there has already been a first presentation regarding their sustainability and conditions for use.
Maritime education is also of major priority. We want to introduce a new era for our maritime education involving the public and private sectors. Through a holistic approach, we want to upgrade our seamanship and increase our ability to provide high-skilled officers.
SINCE APPOINTED AS MINISTER, YOU HAVE DECIDED TO ESTABLISH A CLOSE COOPERATION WITH THE ENTIRE SHIPPING COMMUNITY. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAJOR CONCLUSIONS OF THIS RELATIONSHIP?
Our Government believes the relationship between the public and the private sector is essential for all economic sectors. In all levels of the Government, we are working to reduce bureaucracy, speed up the privatization program, cut red tape and reduce taxes. Local and international investors need to have a clear framework where they know all the rules of the game. They also want a solid conducive business environment that doesn't change from one day to another. We have been in close communication with all stakeholders in the shipping sector so we can all work together and develop our country to its full potential.
Recently, we have sent a comprehensive draft bill to the Parliament covering shipping legislation, ports, marine tourism, island policy and safety at sea. Substantial and urgently needed interventions are being made and the bill has clear objectives that will effectively contribute to developing entrepreneurship, ensuring social cohesion, and improving the framework for the provision of high-quality safety and environmental protection services, We are also working closely with international organizations such as the IMO, towards a comprehensive regulation of international maritime issues in relation to sustainable shipping and other relevant initiatives.
There are other areas that Greece can also play an important role. I believe that our country is the best place in the world for marine tourism, with beautiful islands, a rich history and other benefits for tourists. Marine tourism plays also a central role in the Government's efforts to focus on high-quality tourism. The Greek yachting and marinas sector have an important contribution to the country’s GDP and the planned privatisation of other marinas will certainly bring more investments in this segment.