Greece's Creditors Take Aim at Shipowners

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 27, 2015

Greek ports. Image: Polish Embassy in Athens

Greek ports. Image: Polish Embassy in Athens

 Greece's international lenders are asking the debt-laden country to hike vessel tax, according to a report in the Financial Times. The shipping sector is a vital generator of income for Greece.

According to an official document indicating steps Greece must take, its lenders say the country must "increase the rate of the tonnage tax and phase out special tax treatments of the shipping industry".
International creditors have asked Athens to impose higher taxes on its mainstay shipping sector—a move the government has long been loath to do for fear of sending shipping companies fleeing Greece.
The industry has long been a bedrock of Greece’s economy. Greek owners operate almost 20% of the global fleet of merchant ships, and more than half of the European Union’s fleet. 
The current taxation system has included voluntary payments by the shipping companies and owners who include some of the country's wealthiest tycoons.
The industry’s special tax treatments, which include benefits such as no taxes on profits from shipping operations, and no taxes on ship sales, are in the country’s constitution. Changing them would require a two-thirds majority in parliament.
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