Insider / ΚΥΠΕ
The Cypriot shipping during the pandemic managed to respond and prove to be resilient, said the Deputy Minister of Shipping Vassilis Dimitriadis, in the context of the presentation of the budget of the Ministry of State for 2022, to the Parliamentary Committee on Finance.
According to the Deputy Minister, the register as well as the companies based in Cyprus, recorded a relative increase. Specifically, at the moment the Cypriot register numbers more than 1000 seagoing ships in a total of 1750 ships, the capacity of which reaches 25 million cubic meters for the first time since 2004 when Cyprus joined the EU.
Also, the shipping companies, which are registered in the tonnage tax system, have almost tripled in the last decade, from about 100 in 2012, to 173 in 2017, and today amount to 275.
“The shipping sector has a huge potential for the country”, said the Undersecretary, stating that there is no complacency, on the contrary, 15 days ago the National Strategy for the Cypriot shipping was adopted, which includes 35 targeted actions “perfectly feasible and feasible” and implementation. “It is not only a strategy that covers the period up to 2030 but it is a new philosophy, a new model of approach to the way the State Department operates,” said Mr. Dimitriadis. This strategy is divided into three pillars: Sustainability, extroversion, adaptability.
Regarding extroversion, he explained that the Ministry of State is changing the way it approaches issues and challenges by entering a process of continuous consultation and data collection, in order to understand the challenges and opportunities. This is followed by adaptability, ie the adaptation of the data collected in the legislative framework. The third pillar of sustainability concerns the transformation of the data collection and adaptation process into sustainable actions, which are included in the National Strategy.
According to the Deputy Minister, the budget for 2022 seeks to support a large number of specific actions. Specifically, expenditures of 17.2 million euros are projected, compared to 14.6 million in 2021, and revenues of 15.4 million euros. According to Mr. Dimitriadis, for 2021 an increase of revenues to 91% is recorded, as a result of the increase of the number of companies that have been registered in the capacity tax system of the Ministry of State.
Mr. Dimitriadis focused on three parameters that justify the increased expenditures in the budget of the Ministry of State for next year. The first concerns the digital transformation of the State Department. In this direction, the State Department has secured in the framework of the Recovery and Resilience program a budget of 2.3 million euros, of which 1.4 million euros are included in the 2022 budget. will result in greater flexibility and efficiency and will support the so-called one-stop service – one stop shop. The aim, he stressed, is to strengthen the efficient service of shipping. At the same time, the e-help desk platform is created so that the traders with the State Department can be served on a 24-hour basis, as well as an electronic shipping library so that the circulars and laws of the State Department are directly accessible to all.
The second parameter concerns the sea passenger connection of Cyprus with Greece, for which the subsidy is increased from 4.2 million euros to 5 million euros. According to the Undersecretary, a second attempt will be made with a new tender document at the end of November, which includes improved and much more favorable terms.
The third parameter concerns increased costs regarding training sponsorships and scholarships for the maritime professions. Also, the budget includes increased funds for training of State Department executives in modern technologies and approaches so that foreign shipowners and ship managers trust Cyprus precisely because it can support their ships by providing technical assistance, and not only because of the favorable tax regime.
Mr. Dimitriadis noted that the new strategy seeks to prevent the challenges faced by shipping, which are green and digital transformation. Cyprus, he said, is perhaps the only country in the world that has adopted green tax incentives for shipping, which will take effect this year.
Most of the actions of the strategy will begin to be planned in 2022, some of them will be completed in 2022 while others in 2023, according to the Deputy Minister.
He also said that the goal is to strengthen the network of supervisors in order to further shield the safety of ships from 2022, but also to strengthen the presence of Cyprus abroad, among other things, by opening an office in Tokyo.
Regarding coastal shipping, Mr. Demitriadis stated that the Ministry of State aspires to present in time a consolidated, holistic bill on coastal shipping issues, in order to solve existing problems and clarify procedures related to coastal shipping, which is based on a de minimis plan of 950 thousand euros.
The Undersecretary of Shipping noted that Cyprus can excel in the global and European shipping scene with its own initiatives and proposals that can improve the shipping agenda and global shipping events. We are trying, he noted, through the appropriate networking, for Cyprus to actively participate in all the decisions of the EU and the International Maritime Organization.
An attempt to expose Turkey to the embargo
Asked about the Turkish embargo, the Undersecretary said that it is not up to us to lift it, however the Undersecretary is focusing its efforts on actions that will expose Turkey, such as regional programs through which the Cypriot and Turkish shipping industry. “Such programs under the EU umbrella that favor cooperation for drawing conclusions on the challenges of shipping, I consider to expose Turkey's policy at the political level and we are looking for programs that could have partners from both Cyprus and Turkey. “which show that if there was no embargo, the shipping sector of both Turkey and Cyprus could have a different perspective,” he explained.
At the same time, he said, efforts are being made to compensate for this disadvantage, with targeted measures such as taxation and immediate service, but what will give Cyprus a comparative advantage, he noted, is the know-how and the emphasis on training of State Department officials and strengthening the network of supervisors.
Shipping is in transition
Mr. Dimitriadis expressed the assessment that the shipping is in a transitional stage, due to the effort both at the level of the International Maritime Organization and the EU for green transformation and discharge of shipping from coal, without the available fuel. Our position, he noted, is transitional fuels such as the use of liquefied natural gas as a fuel in shipping to be maintained for a longer period of time and to allocate more funds to research to find the fuel.
At the same time, the Undersecretary referred to the anomaly that exists between the supply and demand of containers and which pushed up their prices. The prices, he estimated, will decrease but will remain at levels higher than 2019.
Satisfaction for support
Moreover, in his statements after the end of the session, the Undersecretary expressed satisfaction for the universal and unanimous support of the deputies in the aims, aspirations and goals of the Undersecretary for the next year.
“The budget reflects the actions of the new strategy that we announced fortnightly ago with 35 targeted actions, the implementation of which will make our shipping more resilient and more competitive. The deputies welcomed these initiatives and we are ready with the approval of the budget to have the right tools to implement our goals “, said the Deputy Minister.