Katseli tipped to lose Greek shipping portfolio
Greece"s ministry for Protection of the Citizen was being tipped at the end of the week to take over responsibility for maritime affairs, a portfolio which has been a bone of contention since last October when the incoming government of George Papandreou abolished the traditional stand-alone ministry of merchant marine.
If confirmed by a presidential decree in the coming week, as shipowning circles were expecting, the move would in effect make Michalis Chrysohoidis, the civil protection minister, shipping minister as well.
His ministry has already been overseeing port security and the Greek coast guard since last October"s restructuring of the government.
Local reports citing unnamed senior government members suggested that Louka Katseli"s ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping, while being stripped of the latter, would retain responsibility for domestic ferry services, passenger shipping and ports.
A third ministry to have a hand in shipping, the ministry of Infrastructure, Transportation and Networks, would continue to look after public service routes in the Aegean, if reports are correct.
Greek shipowners have been lobbying hard for a reunification of the maritime portfolio, in particular to restore the international shipping section with the coast guard.
Reacting to apparent leaks of the government"s plans to redistribute the shipping brief, an opposition New Democracy party spokesman dismissed the move as inadequate.
The conservative party has called for nothing less than the reconstitution of an independent shipping ministry for Greece.