Cyprus shipping has proved resilient in the pandemic with the industry aiming to grow at pace in the future harnessed by technology and sustainability, Deputy Minister for shipping Vassilis Demetriades said.
Presenting his ministry’s 2021 budget to the parliamentary committee for finance and budgetary affairs, Demetriades said shipping has immense potential.
He said approval of Cyprus’ tonnage tax system by the European Commission for the next 10 years creates conditions of stability for the local shipping industry.
Cyprus shipping’s contribution to the island’s GDP is 7% based on generated income while the Cyprus registry ranks 11th in the world and 3rd among EU countries.
Around 243 shipping companies are registered in the tonnage tax system with 55,000 seafarers working on Cypriot-flagged ships, of whom 40,000 remain active.
Demetriades said the ministry will further improve the Cyprus product by launching tax incentives for green shipping.
The Deputy Minister said the 2021 budget has a surplus with targeted expenditure.
Total expenditure amounts to €14.5 mln compared to €10.1 mln in 2020, with the increase associated with state aid for the ferry link with Greece expected to resume next summer after 20 years.
Around 33% of the total budget is allocated in wages for the ministry’s staff.
Demetriades said his ministry is charting a long-term strategy for a sustainable shipping industry, which will be ring-fenced against crises.
A digital one-stop-shop service is underway and should be complete next year which would give the Cyprus flag a competitive edge.
“Cyprus can build much more on Cypriot shipping which has proven resilient amidst the crisis, the aim is for a culture change so that Cypriots can move closer to maritime professions with a campaign in schools.”
He said Cyprus wants to become a co-shaper with a more active presence in international and European maritime events, in terms of green transformation and promotion of international rules.
The pandemic affected the cruise and passenger ship sectors while Cyprus pioneered the repatriation of seafarers and the change of crews stranded on ships, offering solutions for 5,000 sailors since May. (source CNA)