Greek Prime Minister can call on maritime sector to aid economic recovery
THE New Democracy conservative party of Greece's newly sworn in Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected not to trouble the nation's powerful shipping industry, unlike previous socialist governments
THE New Democracy conservative party of Greece's newly sworn in Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected not to trouble the nation's powerful shipping industry, unlike previous socialist governments.
This combined with a then-ongoing Brussels investigation into whether the country's tax system for shipping complied with European Union state aid guidelines, said London's Lloyd's List.
But Mr Tsipras's government has proven amenable to a compromise deal with Greek shipowners that seems to have been sufficient for the European Commission to drop its eight year-long investigation.
Key elements of the new tax deal for the industry include an acceptance by shipowners of a 10 per cent dividend tax on repatriated profits, while a temporary austerity tax and double-tonnage taxes, introduced a voluntary measure since 2013, have been phased out.
With the framework for Greece's oceangoing shipping community appearing more settled than it has been for a while, few expect much friction between the incoming administration and shipowners.
With the overwhelming strength of Greek shipping facing outwards towards global tankers, dry bulk, container and gas trades, the industry usually seeks nothing more from an incoming government than to be left in peace to go about its international business as usual.
The Union of Greek Shipowners has become more proactive in recent times, though, and only recently its president, Theodore Veniamis, doubled down on industry calls for the government to prioritise the seafaring profession.
The Greek-owned fleet continues to grow in capacity and is facing an increasing shortage of officers unless the country's maritime academies are expanded and equipped to churn out more qualified seafarers.
A look at Greece's wider maritime sector, however, shows there is more than enough for the incoming Mitsotakis administration to tackle.
The new prime minister has already announced that one of the first moves of the new government would be smoothing the approval process for Cosco's EUR600 million (US$673 million) extended investment programme for the port of Piraeus.
'We need to have a very active ministry with people who have the knowledge to interface with the EU and the International Maritime Organisation, to protect Greek shipping's interests and ensure that the Greek shipping can remain competitive,' said Hellenic Chamber of Shipping president George Pateras.
'The end-goal of all of us is to have all Greek-owned vessels under the Greek flag and not make the same mistake as some other European nations and minimise the need for national crew to just a master,' he said.
There is optimism within the maritime industries that Mr Mitsotakis 'understands shipping very well,' said Propeller Club president George Xiradakis.
'There is a lot of potential for investment and jobs not only from the shipping companies, but also in short-sea, ports, logistics and even shipyards.'