By Staff Reporter
THE House on Thursday changed the legislation governing the functioning of the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) in a way that now allows the government to launch a tender to privatise commercial operations at Limassol port.
Modifying the CPA’s legal framework was a prerequisite for a tender call. Concessions or operating licenses to be granted for commercial operations at Limassol port are likely to be for 25 or 30 years.
MPs had introduced a number of amendments to the government bill by the time it was put to a plenum vote.
The finalised bill passed with 31 votes from ruling DISY, DIKO, EDEK and the European Party, and 19 against (AKEL and independent MP Zaharias Koulias). The Greens’ Giorgos Perdikis abstained.
AKEL voted against despite inclusion into the law of an amendment of their own, namely guaranteeing the employment and pension rights of CPA workers.
Another amendment, also tabled by AKEL but defeated, aimed to guarantee that the port pilot must always be an employee of the CPA.
The law as it now stands provides that before the relevant minister issues decrees on port fees, he or she must consult parliament.
And current regulations governing the operation of the ports remain in force until new regulations are enacted by parliament.
Separate legislation determining the status of porters at the Limassol and Larnaca harbours will be tabled to the plenum at a later date.
Porters have licences for years, granted by the government, which they will be required to give up once the port commercialisation goes ahead.
Limassol port’s commercial operations are to be privatised, under a deal between the government and international creditors.
Cyprus must denationalise several state enterprises, including Limassol port, the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority and the Electricity Authority, raising an estimated €1bn by 2016 in order to pay down a €10bn international bailout.
The government hopes to find investors for Limassol port by the end of this year, and then conclude an agreement within the first quarter of 2016.
High docking fees and uncompetitive services were major reasons why Cyprus lost its status as the main Mediterranean transshipment hub. Malta now holds that distinction.