COVID-19. The President of Assarmatori, Stefano Messina: “The port authorities agree to reduce charges and costs”

“This serious crisis is like a tsunami that has hit the whole maritime cluster. Holding the impact and starting again will involve enormous sacrifices”.

“According to the International Monetary Fund, the world economy will decline by 3% in 2020. In 2009, after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the drop in global GDP stopped at 0.6%. And these numbers would be enough to make it clear how serious this crisis is, which, according to the IMF, will bring the Italian GDP down by 9.1%, two points more than the other large European economies. It is an unprecedented disaster, a tsunami that has hit the entire maritime cluster completely, sweeping shipping companies, ports, terminals and the entire logistics chain.” Declared by the president of Assarmatori, Stefano Messina.

“Holding the crash and leaving – Messina continues – will entail enormous sacrifices for everyone. The companies are already facing a very painful contraction in freight and passenger traffic, cruise ships are stopped and ferries travel only to ensure the territorial continuity of the islands and the freight traffic indispensable for the supply of the Country, but the liquidity flows that the ticket office guaranteed, have been reset to zero, putting at risk both the continuation of the services and the maintenance of the current employment structures with further consequences also on the whole induced.

To the Government, therefore, the shipowners have asked for public guarantees so that the credit is not exhausted and necessary liquidity is recovered in any other way, but it is not enough, we must also intervene on the cost side and here the ports and the authorities that manage them enter into play. Assarmatori has asked them to grant the shipping companies, especially those engaged in the services of connection with the islands and in the maritime ro-ro / ro-pax connections, the so-called motorways of the sea, a remodulation of the port costs / fees due for the 2020, because it is clear that those companies will not be able to bear all the expenses necessary to ensure the full operation of the ships (which are largely fixed costs), without collecting the amount of proceeds expected before the collapse. This also applies to port rights for passenger and vehicle traffic, port infrastructure use charges (including ISPS charges and charges for services of general interest); maritime state fees, the anchorage tax and the surcharge for goods on deck; port security charges and technical nautical services.

At the moment, however, the only aid granted to shipowners concerns the suspensionof the anchorage tax for a very limited period. And if remains the only concession, it is clear that it will not be enough to avoid the final collapse. The current crisis is unprecedented, and the answers must also be unprecedented. The shipping companies are doing their part by keeping the routes active and opening new credit lines despite the collapse in revenues, the Port System Authorities are agreeing to cut charges and costs. Never as now – concludes the president of Assarmatori – are we all on the same boat and we must row together to avoid the rocks”.

The contribution of President Stefano Messina published by ShippingItaly is also in the special insert “The Numbers of Italian Ports“.