A change in government in Greece is ringing alarm bells for the country’s shipowners as incoming ministers focus on the shipping sector as a potential source of sorely-needed revenue
Specialist shipping accountant Moore Stephens says it is “too soon” to say whether the new Greek government’s policies will have a damaging effect on the nation’s shipping industry.
But in a briefing, it adds that Greek shipping interests will need to monitor how the change of government might affect them “on both a business and personal level before reviewing any long-term plans”.
The new government, led by the left-wing Syriza party, has already warned Greek shipowners that they should be prepared to “lift the heaviest possible burden” to help lift the country out of its financial malaise. This includes re-examining all tax concessions on shipowners, which must be a worrying thought indeed for Greece’s many shipping magnates.
“Any change of government, in any part of the world, is likely to have implications for the national shipping industry”
Moore Stephens London partner Michael Kotsapas, a shipping specialist who has been advising Greek families for over fifteen years, says: “Any change of government, in any part of the world, is likely to have implications for the national shipping industry. This is particularly true of Greece, where shipping is a significant contributor to the country’s overall GDP and a major source of employment.”
Last year, the ruling government introduced a number of changes to Greece’s tax laws, including some specific to the shipping industry, such as repealing the law imposing mandatory triple tonnage tax on Greek-flag ships and foreign-flag vessels managed out of Greece, replacing it with the voluntary contribution of double tonnage tax payments for the next four years.
Another measure with a potential impact on the shipping community included the introduction, for the first time in Greece, of Controlled Foreign Companies Rules covering the concept of effective management and criteria for determining same.
Mr Kotsapas adds: “Before the election, the anti-austerity Syriza party called for a new agreement which would involve the shipping community making a greater contribution to the national economy than it already does. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case. Shipping is a key industry in Greece, and it would be surprising and disappointing if the new government’s policy, when announced, did not reflect that. In the meantime, the shipping community will be watching developments with keen interest.”