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Greek govt revives standalone Shipping Ministry

Greek govt revives standalone Shipping Ministry
With shipping and shipping related issues likely to play an important role in government plans to raise revenues and meet the demands of creditors, Greece’s incoming leftist-led coalition government has a New Ministry, Shipping and Island Policy.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ new cabinet lineup contains few major changes to key posts but it does contain a stand-alone Shipping and Island Policy ministry, one of five ministries that are different to the ones that existed under the previous Tsipras-led Syriza / Independent Greeks coalition government.

Piraeus MP, Thodoris Dritsas, remains in charge of shipping, but is now the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy. Previously he was responsible for shipping, but under the umbrella of the giant Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism, ministry headed up by George Stathakis who is now running the re-branded Economy, Development and Tourism. The key post of Finance minister with regard to the implementation of the third bailout remains in the hands of Euclid Tsakalotos, whom Tsipras praised during the election campaign for the handling of negotiations with the lenders.

Return of the Shipping ministry, abolished in February by Tsipras, is a positive for the shipping community, which was never comfortable with shipping being part of the Finance ministry. Still Dritsas will have his hands full dealing with a shipping community which waits to see what lies in store when Greece, next month will be under the cosh of its creditors as it prepares for its next bailout cash.

The European Commission is demanding shipping contributes more to the country's coffers in the way of taxes, though taxes have increased some eightfold since 2009. Indeed, a fear the government may launch a wide-ranging overhaul of the country's tax regime has seen many Greek owners take the initial step of looking for another base of operation outside of Greece, though Tsipras has said it is a government priority to develop and strengthen the Greek-flag fleet and Greece's status of the home-base of the world's largest fleet and the job potential this brings.

Dritsas is openly opposed to the privatisation of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authorities, but has said ”what must be done will be done”. However, Seatrade Maritime News has been told by an official close to the process, the call for bids, ”will likely be delayed”.