Cyprus’ Shipping Deputy Ministry, which has been operating for nearly two years, is meeting expectations but competition is very hard, Shipping Deputy Minister Natasa Pilides has said.
She was addressing the House Finance Committee during a presentation of the ministry’s budget for 2020.
According to data presented to MPs during the meeting, the Deputy Ministry’s revenue for 2019 have reached €15,375,309.
On the basis of data collected by the Central Bank of Cyprus, she said, revenue from the ship management sector in 2019 stood at €1 billion or 5.1% of GDP. She noted that a review of the shipping sector’s total contribution in the Cypriot economy needs to be made since the Central Bank’s statistics include only specific data and there are companies which are not categorised as shipping but are active only due to the shipping sector. However, she added this will take some time.
Revenue for 2020 is estimated in the budget to reach €14,592,150. At the same time, expenditure is forecast to reach €10,999,259.
Pilides briefed MPs that the Deputy Ministry`s budget has exceeded the original cap set after receiving the Finance Ministry’s approval and added that the staff is working very hard. Our team, she said, already works at 100% of its capacity and she expressed the view that output will increase once the ministry`s restructuring procedures are concluded.
Replying to MPs questions she said that “we were late to establish the Deputy Ministry.” Two years after its operation, she pointed out, I can look back and I can see that we are running to make up time and opportunities lost. To that effect she gave the example of digitisation which could have taken place earlier.
“I believe we are meeting expectations based on the situation as it stands, but competition is very hard and in order to surpass our competitors we have to reach the same level as them first,” she said.
Referring to Cyprus’ Ship Registry she informed MPs that new vessels are registered all the time and expressed the view that “we will have an increase.” She acknowledged that at the same time, other vessels which were registered in Cyprus choose other destinations, adding however that “there is an upward tendency [in registration] and this is encouraging for us.”
Pilides also said that currently there are 220 companies registered and expressed her satisfaction because there is also an upward trend in the registration of companies and in particular of companies which own foreign ships, which means, she added, that we are also developing that side of the sector, since the ship-management sector has been developed nearly to the maximum of its potential.
She further expressed the hope that the renewal of the tax system in place will encourage companies to continue to choose Cyprus as their base of operations.
Referring to that effort, she said developments are positive. “After 1.5 year of consultations with the European Commission we have received the final “OK” and we have submitted an official notification,” Pilides noted, adding that once this takes place the expectation is that approval will be granted.
Pilides also said that the Cypriot Shipping Deputy Ministry submitted proposals about the reduction of pollutants which received praise by the European Commission but were also adopted by the International Chamber of Shipping, something which is very important for Cyprus.
She also expressed the hope that Cyprus will be reelected next Friday at the IMO.
Replying to a question on the ongoing effort to re-establish a ferry connection between Cyprus and Greece she said that the Ministry is in the process of finalising the reply to a detailed questionnaire from the European Commission and that it is expected to be submitted soon. She expressed her satisfaction about the arguments put forward and said that the Deputy Ministry will be ready to go ahead with tenders once it receives a positive reply from the European Commission.
(Cyprus News Agency)