segunda-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2014

Ports Case - 1. The Ports Monopoly

In 1995, the Publico reported on the Ports Monopoly:

"in the next phase, already with Ricardo Sousa heading the ENM, the strategy of the [Sousa] Group turned to the Funchal port operation, an crucial area for controlling the sector and supplying the arquipelago. Through deals established with the trade unuions of the carriers and stevedors and with the Regional Government, the firm Operações Portuárias da Madeira Lda (OPM) became...the only private company working in the port.

Gradually, and always with the support of the Regional Government and the two trade unions - whose presidents drive BMWs and Mercedes, despite the organizations having only a few tens of members, the OPM rose, very soon, to a status that was contested by the port users and the Regional Ports Directorate. A statute that attributed to it a unique and particularly attractive privilege: the possibility to manage the port operation according to its own interests in the area of maritime transport.

In practice, accuse the former and current competitors of the OPM and the Sousa brothers, the control of the port operation allows them to have "a hold" over all those who manifest an interest in entering the market and to "squash" them.

'This is all mined by very influential people. The best is not to make waves. I don't understand if I'm in Calábria or South America", states a high employee of one of the three companies that compete with the ENM in the transport of goods between the continent and Madeira.

'We are witnessing the emergence of an octopus which spreads its tentacles of all that is maritime in Funchal', says Fernando Oliveira, president of the National Trade Union  of the Port Administration Workers, based in Lisbon. "In default of the law and of public interest, the port is being operated in an opaque way, which privileges one private firm and the stevedore's trade unions', added the same trade unionist.

One of the companies more frequently identified as a victim of the particularities of the Funchal port is João Silvério Pires - who until the end of 1992 operated the transport of passengers and goods between Funchal and Porto Santo. The methods allegedly used against it, say various port employees, went from the "massacre" by the overseeing authorities, to the charging of "absurd" rates and tributes, and to 'all manner of obstacles' to the unloading of goods in Funchal'...."

A decade later, the Investigative Police Report confirmed the obstacles to free competition:

It should be stressed that article 28 of the statutes of the AGMOP, resulting from the partial alteration of the statutes, carried out in 14-09-93, when MT was trying to enter the market of the port operations, practically blocks the entry of any new port operators.

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