Interview of Mrs Natasa Pilides , summarizing her achievements after two years as The Shipping Deputy Minister of Cyprus and telling us her goals for the future.
Pilides next week is 2 years as Cyprus Deputy Minister of shipping. We want to tell us about your first experiences with the Deputy Ministry of shipping assigned to you.
For the past two years I have been assigned with the mission of further developing Cyprus shipping as the first Shipping Deputy Minister of the Republic of Cyprus. Having developed a comprehensive strategy for shipping and blue growth, my team and I have been working on cementing Cyprus’s position as one of the world’s leading Flag administrations and as a leading and sophisticated shipping cluster encompassing the whole range of shipping and shipping-related activities and services.
Every aspect of our activities is both interesting and important, whether it’s safety and security aspects relating to our flag, environmental protection efforts, measures to safeguard and enhance the competitiveness of our maritime cluster, the reinforcement of maritime education and innovation, or our ongoing projects for digitization of the Deputy Ministry. I think the most exciting aspect of shipping is its truly global nature, which is intrinsic to its function and role. We take our role as council member of the IMO and as member of the EU extremely seriously, and aim to be as constructive as possible with our contribution to the formulation of international policies for greener, smarter, safer shipping.
Shipping is an exciting and stimulating sector, full of diversity and drive towards progress. Raising awareness of this is vital to the long-term prosperity of the industry.
From taking your duties up to date, can you summarize what you have achieved?
Since the creation of the Shipping Deputy Ministry in 2018, a number of initiatives have been completed which are part of our overall National Maritime Strategy. Among others, these include:
- Rebranding of the Maritime Cyprus brand and development of a promotional strategy which includes digital marketing as well as an intense promotional programme aiming to raise Cyprus’s profile as a leading maritime cluster for Flag, investment and related maritime services. This has included participation at conferences and exhibitions all over the world, as well as a number of road shows in important maritime centres worldwide.
- Smooth and successful prolongation of the Cyprus Tonnage Tax System for the next 10 years (January 2020- December 2029), ensuring the following:
- Companies operating under the current TTS can continue with no major changes
- Competitive advantages preserved and enhanced.
- Wider list of eligible vessels
- Wider list of ancillary activities
- Provisions for discounts in TTS rates for environmentally-friendly vessels.
- Revised and simplified the policy on the registration of ships in the Cyprus Register.
- Abolition of registration and mortgage fees for the registration of ocean-going commercial vessels under the Cyprus flag.
- Streamlining and simplification of the fees and dues which relate to ocean going commercial Cyprus ships.
- Enhancement of 24/7 services to ensure top quality service to all clients.
- Conducted of more than 100 meetings in Cyprus and abroad aiming to obtain honest feedback from our clients and acting on it.
- Completed successfully the ISO- Quality Certification for the Flag State activities.
- A new user-friendly, comprehensive website which includes a suite of online services including:
- E- Verification of certificates issued by the Cyprus administration
- Online seafarers’ management system
- Tax calculator
- Online submission and management of tax returns
- An online career platform for seafarers
- Other initiatives to increase the effective use of technology include:
- Digitization of records and archives concerning the Registration of Cyprus Ships and Small Vessels Registry.
- Development of an automated Port State Control system (“Fleet Information Exchange Platform” – FISH) in cooperation with technology company Prevention at Sea.
- Participation in the first “Human Element Maritime Enhancement Tool” – H.EL.M.E.T Advisory Committee Meeting aiming towards the assessment and identification of potential human born failures and optimization of the human element.
- Re-election of Cyprus at the IMO Council for the 2020-2021 biennium, ranking 4th in Category C with 140 votes (more than ever obtained before).
- Participation and active involvement in the works of EU and international shipping organisations and institutions.
- Conclusion of a new Model Agreement between the Cyprus Government and 12 Recognised Organisations for statutory certification services aiming to incorporate more flexible and technologically advanced procedures with the use of electronic services and certificates.
- Reduction of Green House Gases: Implementation of IMO Strategy – Submitted a follow-up paper to IMO providing proposal for the development of appropriate short-term measures.
- 2020 Sulphur Cup (0.5%)-Providing ongoing support and assistance on the correct use of Fuel Oil Non Availability Reports (FONAR) and handling of non–compliant fuel left on board.
- State Aid Scheme for Coastal Passenger Vessels (de minimis) of €3 million over 3 years– upgrading and improving coastal passenger vessel with the aims of:
- Reducing pollution.
- Providing access to people with reduced mobility.
- Improving safety in coastal navigation.
- Introduction of maritime direction in secondary education. The programmes are offered at the First Technical and Vocational School of Education and Training in Limassol as of the school year 2019/2020.
- Extension of subsidies for on-board training to EU cadets studying at the Cyprus marine academies recognized by the Shipping Deputy Ministry.
- Support to R&I projects such as the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI), a research centre of excellence aiming to leverage on maritime technology in order to find practical solutions to the issues faced by the maritime industry.
- Provision of financial and technical support (€15 million from the Cyprus government and €15 million from the EU).
- Coordination of the development of the Cyprus Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) and Blue Growth for Cyprus.
Pilides what are your future goals?
One of our top priorities as Deputy Ministry is to maintain and safeguard the stable, business–friendly framework available to foreign investors in shipping. To this end, our future goals include the following:
- Continue and boost the steady growth of the Cyprus Registry of Ships.
- Increase the number and presence of companies operating within the Cyprus shipping cluster.
- Improve and update the incentives offered to foreign investors in shipping.
- Improve efficiency, speed and quality of service through the effective use of technology.
- Continue to provide top quality services to our clients.
- Strengthen alliances and strengthen our negotiating position and role during the decision-making processes at European and international level.
- Maintain the excellent safety record of the Cyprus fleet.
- Remain on the White Lists of the Paris and Tokyo MoUs.
- Ensure sustainability and enhance environmental protection on a global level.
- Promote marine and maritime careers as well as blue growth and innovation within the maritime sector.