Constanta Seaport: between central and local authorities

Slide 1Constanta Seaport is one of the main distribution centres serving Central and Eastern Europe with a series of advantages due to the port’s multi-functionality, modern facilities, direct access to the countries in the region through the pan-European Corridor VII-Danube (being, at the same time, located on the routes of the pan-European Corridors IV and IX), distribution centre of containers to Black Sea ports, providing connections to all transport modes, Ro-Ro and Ferry Boat terminals which provide fast connection to the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea ports. The port also has a Free Trade Area statute enabling to establish the general legal framework necessary to facilitate foreign trade and freight transit to and from CEE.

With a total traffic of over 55 million tonnes of freight (2013), constantly growing in the past three years, the development projects of the authorities mainly focused on increasing the port’s capacity, facilitating access and providing modern and sustainable infrastructure so as to reduce travel time and decongest railway and road traffic. The Transport Master Plan is aimed to create the premises for promoting the development of the port in 2014-2020 by planning the best transport infrastructure investments. In February 2014, the National Company Maritime Ports Administration of Constanta signed a services contract worth EUR 904.5 Thousand, VAT excluded, on the elaboration of a new Master Plan that will be ready in 12 months. The draft Master Plan has been submitted to receive financing through SOP-T 2007-2013 from structural EU and state budget funds and the financing demand was approved in October 2013. The Master Plan includes the elaboration of a strategic planning of the port on medium and long term (until 2040), to ensure a continuity of the port’s development, while efficiently exploiting the existing resources and infrastructure oriented to the real market needs.
From the point of view of railway infrastructure, the port benefits from railways with a total length of 300 km and the authorities consider the development of this network. The project consists in the development of a systematised railway complex to best serve operators. The first phase will include works to the railways providing access to operators based on the traffic forecast until 2020. The cost is estimated at EUR 17.6 Million. The finalization of the entire project will increase railway capacity for freight transport from and to the river-maritime sector, will improve transit through the port on the TEN-T network and will dissipate the traffic congestion generated by the development of the activity.

14% of shares will be listed on the Stock Exchange

This year, central and local authorities expressed different opinions about the privatisation of the port, including removing it from the authority of the Ministry of Transport and transferring it to the local authority. “The citizens have to be the sole beneficiaries of the projects resulted from the port’s incomes”, declared Radu Mazăre, Mayor of Constanta. The project according to which the port will be managed by local authorities is supported by all the representatives of local administrations with port to the Black Sea.
The new Minister of Transport, Dan Şova (appointed in March 2014), wants to give a 13% stake in the port to the Municipality, with the current stake increasing from 20% to 33%. At present, the main shareholder of the port is the Romanian State, through the Ministry of Transport with a 60% stake, followed by Constanta Municipality and the Property Fund, each with a 20% stake.
“The Ministry of Transport plans to give a new 13% stake to Constanta Municipality and to list 14% of shares on the Stock Exchange. This way, we will have a perfect balance between the central authority and the local authority, as the Ministry of Transport will have a 33% stake, Constanta Municipality a 33% stake, thus ensuring the equal representation of central and local interests in Constanta Seaport, while 34% of shares will be private”, the minister explained.
According to the Minister, the advantage of listing 14% of the port’s shares on the Stock Exchange is the transformation of the administration of Constanta Seaport into public company which means all operations and acquisitions have to be transparent because stock exchange listing is not possible otherwise. Also, the measure will increase investments in Constanta Seaport and it will obviously increase the economic activity of the private operators in the port, as well as freight traffic.
In March, Prime Minister Victor Ponta declared that at least third of the shares could be listed on the stock exchange to attract the interest of private investors. “Who buys 5% of the port’s shares? Why should a foreign investor buy 5%…? We either sell third of the shares so that we could have interest from private investors, or we don’t sell at all. I believe this is how all companies would work. I believe in the implication of private capital in state-owned companies”, said the Prime Minister. He concluded that as much private capital as possible should be attracted to develop the infrastructure.

[ by Pamela Luică ]
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