By Staff Reporter
THE Cyprus Shipping Chamber is celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout this year since and its head has called on the government to speed up the appointment of a junior minister for shipping and fill the top spot at the Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS).
“The DMS is one of the most productive government divisions and operates on a 24-hour basis, which is why it cannot cooperate with international shipping companies and not have a permanent director,” Thomas Kazakos said, adding “we are trying to push for the position to be filled as soon as possible.”
He added that the post junior minister for shipping would give political support to the industry which continues to contribute extensively to the economy, especially during these tough times.
“We feel the need to upgrade the sector without casting any shadows over the current administration at the Ministry or even the DMS, but we need to send the right political message to an industry that produces 7 per cent of GDP or €1bn every year during difficult times,” Kazakos said.
The Chamber was founded on January 26, 1986 as the Cyprus Shipping Council and renamed in 2008. It was founded by 17 shipping companies and has been actively contributing to turn Cyprus shipping into an international industry with 155 registered shipping companies operating in the field of ship ownership and management.
“These companies control around 2,300 seagoing ships with 50m tons of total capacity from Cyprus ranking as one of the leading ship registers in the world,” he added.
Kazakos said that the island’s shipping industry employs 4,500 people, while shipping companies based in Cyprus manage a total of 55,000 seamen.
Asked about the future potential of shipping, Kazakos was reserved in his estimations saying that they are currently positive. Any potential, he said, is linked to the stabilisation and expected increase in the cargo market and said that shipping could be further strengthened in the hydrocarbon sector as companies which provide services related to oil and gas extraction are gradually arriving on the island.
“Shipping is closely related to the energy industry, so once this very promising industry produces what everyone expects, shipping will have an immediate impact through transporting natural gas,” he said.
The negative impact of the Eurogroup decision in March and the ensuing ‘haircut’ on deposits has not caused any shipping companies on the island to leave, Kazakos added.
Events to mark the chamber’s 25 years include hosting the annual meeting of International Shipping Chambers in Limassol in June, as well as a meeting of shipping ministers from different countries.