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House committee sounds alarm over higher port fees

limassol port8
Limassol port (file photo)

The managing companies at the Limassol port came under fire once again on Tuesday from MPs concerned that higher charges will lead to inflation.

“We cannot play with inflation,” said president of the House energy, commerce and tourism committee Disy MP Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis said, before calling on the companies to reconsider.

“Given the current economic climate, we are all very worried regarding the possible charge increases at the Limassol port.”

After the committee, Hadjiyiannis said the companies now have two weeks to come up with a plan that would see them refraining from going ahead with the charges. The transport ministry will act as intermediary between the operating companies at the Limassol port and the committee.

“Our aim is to stop their plans, as potential charge increases would signify a risk for the entire economy,” he said.

The director general of the transport ministry Stavros Michael said that the bigger risk stemming from the situation would fall on the consumers.

He said the ministry had reacted from the very first moment it heard about “concerning rumours” regarding increased charges and appealed to the companies to avoid any changes.

The head of the Cyprus Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Keve) Marios Tsiakkis, who also took part in the committee, said that, although he understands the difficulties faced by the operating companies in recent months, the increased charges would greatly affect businesses at the port.

Last week, speaking to Cybc radio, Tsiakkis said the companies’ plans were taken having in mind only exports and forgetting the domestic market.

For their part, the Limassol port operating companies have indicated that they complied with all the provisions of the concession agreement.

They noted that the increased charges are justified on the basis of the agreements and that they are allowed by existing clauses in the contracts, adding that in previous years they avoided to charge more for operating costs.

Disy’s Fotini Tsiridou said acknowledged problems with the contracts themselves but said that the agreement with the operating companies was among the first, major reforms and it was to be expected that issued would need to be addressed. And she added that 63 per cent of the revenue of the terminal operator and 52 per cent of the revenue of the general cargo company went to the state which has so far seen inflow of €201.6m.

Akel MP Costas Costa called the companies’ plans “scandalous” and slammed the government for allowing the situation to reach this point.

Finally, Diko MP Chrysis Pantelides said the issue is that “certain market sectors behave as if they live on another planet,” adding that the companies are hiding behind legal provisions that were made before the Covid-19 pandemic and its dire consequences on the economy.

 

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