Ports privatization to bring multiple benefits, CPA VP says

Ports privatization to bring multiple benefits, CPA VP says

The shipping industry should become the “flagship” of Cyprus` economic growth, Vice-president of the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Ports Authority(CPA) and Head of the Department of Commerce, Finance and Shipping of Cyprus University of Technology(CUT), Professor Photis Panayides has said, noting that ports` privatization will bring multiple and multidimensional benefits to the country.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Panayides expressed the view that the privatization of the ports should take place even if this is not provided for in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed between Troika and Cyprus in early 2013, and rejected criticisms over selling-off Cypriot ports.

CPA Vice President refers, in his interview, to the goals and prospects of the Cyprus Ports Authority and to the projects which either have been completed or are under way or are in the planning stage.

“The Authority’s efforts for 2015 focus on overcoming the challenges and exploiting the opportunities ahead, which largely derive from the policies of competitive ports as well as the profound changes and developments in international maritime,” he said. He clarified that all efforts and objectives are in line with the EU acquis communautaire and EU guidelines.

Panayides said that the global economic recession from 2009 onwards has affected the maritime traffic in Cypriot ports and subsequently the revenue from CPA commercial activities.

However, he added, “the strategy followed as well as the exploitation of the new opportunities arising from the hydrocarbons sector, in conjunction with other activities, ensure the financial robustness and profitability of the Authority, which has acted as a catalyst in order not to affect the development planning of the Authority.”

He also noted that signs of recovery emerged in 2014 for the first time since 2009 when the Cypriot economy went into recession and it is estimated that the Authority’s turnover recorded an increase.

Referring to the works underway in Cypriot ports, he said that the expansion of the Limassol Port is underway with the 500-metre extension of its western basin quay and it is estimated that the project will be completed by April 2016.

Meanwhile, a new pilot boat will be purchased in order to enhance the commercial prospects of the port and the Authority is planing to buy a new tug boat of high-horsepower, a mobile crane and three super post-Panamax gantry cranes.

He said that the construction works for the new passenger terminal in Limassol port are expected to be completed before the end of this year. The new 6,800 square metre passenger terminal is estimated to significantly enhance passenger character of the port, he told CNA.

Panayides noted that the oil storage terminal facilities of VTT Vasiliko Ltd (VTTV) at Vasiliko port have recently been put into operation, adding that the Authority will have significant revenue from its operation.

Referring to the old Limassol Port, which has been revamped, he said the premises at the old port – 20 buildings covering some 6,000 square meters – include a fish market and fishing club, laboratories and offices for the Department of Fisheries, fish tavern, cafeterias, restaurants, bars and offices.

He said that the Authority will invite anew tenders to bid for the management of the ground facilities of the old port after failing to ratify a single bid submitted by a Cypriot investor.

Referring to the shipping, cargo and passenger traffic at Cyprus` ports in 2014, Panayides said that around 4,195 ships docked in Cypriot ports during 2014. About 64% of them were cargo ships. Moreover, he continued, in the same year around 220 cruise ships served a total of 182,000 passengers, including 107,000 passengers in transit.

Asked about the privatization process of Cypriot ports, he said that the studies being conducted by the Ministry of Communications and Works with the three important consulting firms hired on technical, economic and legal issues are being implemented as scheduled.

He did not rule out that agreements relating to the port of Limassol would be reached by the end of the year. On the port of Larnaca, he said issues relating to the signing of an agreement with the strategic investor are expected to conclude, assuring that every effort would be made to ensure job positions.