The State, the local economy and the society have benefited from the privatization of the Port of Limassol and this can be seen both in the numbers and in the other data that the Ministry has in front of it, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works responds to the statement AKEL Mr. Stefanou Stefanou after the meeting of the Finance Committee for the budget of the Cyprus Ports Authority.
The answer of the Ministry
Total trade through Limassol Port has increased in recent years. Revenues from the Port of Limassol have increased significantly compared to before, mainly due to the successful acquisition of port work, showing that through such moves the state can significantly increase its resources for the benefit of society and citizens. Specifically, the benefit of the State, from 2017 until today amounts to the amount of € 201.6 million, while for the period 2012-2016 it amounted to € 116.5m.
In addition to the above revenues, the three companies have invested significant funds amounting to € 50 million with the aim of improving, securing and automating port service as much as possible. This has been achieved through the development of appropriate software systems, the installation of security systems, investments in new equipment and the upgrading of existing equipment, staff training as well as the maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure.
The charges before the amendment of the law were complex, opaque and included many distortions, while at the same time there was a subsidy of some products to the detriment of others. Therefore, there was a political decision to modify the charges. Relevant legislation was approved by the House of Representatives. As a result the charges have been simplified by having a single charge for each container instead of varying the price depending on the type of product, a practice that applies in most ports. This has resulted in some charges being reduced and some being increased.
On average, however, the charges remain the same, as a relevant study shows, while at the same time some products were identified that would have higher charges and which are the minority. For this purpose, and for the first three years (transitional period), there was a compensation mechanism for the specific products. The above mechanism is provided in both the relevant law and the Concession Agreements. From January 2020, the date on which the transitional period ended, the Ministry is in consultation with the administrator to find a solution that does not create problems of distortion of competition and state aid. At the same time, at the beginning of 2021, the Ministry has announced a tender for the purchase of services to examine all non-regulated charges.
The charge for the use of the anchorage is a regulated charge with a ceiling based on the legislation. This charge does not apply to ships waiting to enter port to be serviced. In addition, it is noted that for this service there is competition from other anchorages such as the Monastery and Larnaca. An example of the competition that exists is the cruise ships that are currently parked due to a pandemic at the anchorage of the Monastery. The goal of the State is to apply the principles of free market and competition.
With regard to transit trade, the Ministry is already working on a plan to turn Cyprus into a transit trade center.
Finally, it is mentioned that today, 4 years after the start of the management of the Port by private managers, the works in the port are carried out without any particular problems. The port is able to serve 24 hours a day and weekends, when and if there is a relative need and the average service time of trucks has been reduced to 18 minutes.
The statement of Mr. Stefanos Stefanos
“Yesterday's assumptions of the Ministry of Transport for the port of Limassol prove how harmful the prescriptions of privatizations are for the economy and society. At the same time, they prove that the agreement concluded by the DISY government for the sale of the port is bad and heterogeneous for the place.
The government's much-publicized announcements and predictions of the immediate benefits of privatization were flatly refuted. The numbers speak for themselves. Port and berth charges have increased. Transit trade declined. The cost for Cypriot exports has increased. Ships and businesses are now avoiding the port of Limassol.
The dogmatism of the DISY government to privatize and sell off the public wealth of the country to big private interests is a recipe that harms the interests of our place and our people “.