quinta-feira, 3 de abril de 2014

Ports Monopoly Discussed with EuroMPs

Last week I had occasion to attend a most interesting meeting held by the Madeira Chamber of Commerce, ACIF, at the City Hall: an event where local businessmen would have the opportunity to meet with and brief a group of EuroMPs of the Commission of Transport and Tourism, among whom were Nuno Teixeira, João Ferreira (Communist Party), Mathieu Grosch, EPP, Belgium and Zita Gourmai, Socialists, Hungary.

Towards the end of the meeting, I briefed the MEPs on the ports monopoly (in English so as not to tire the translators): that we are dependent on the ports for 80% of what we consume; that they are one of the most expensive ports in Europe, thanks to the Sousa monopoly; that the government receives not a cent from this operation and that despite Government claims to the contrary, the ports operation was a de facto monopoly.

Step forward Duarte Rodrigues, former President of the ACiF in the defense of the Sousa group, saying  that there was no monopoly, that the Ports operations were open to any company that wished to license itself…

"I was the former ports director and I resigned due to the way the Port restructuring was carried out", said the next speaker, Menezes Vasconcellos. "We ended up with a single operator and the most expensive port in the country. I was so disgusted that I brought over a large firm from the mainland to compete in the Madeira ports, but after five years of trying to get a license it became obvious that it was simply not possible!"

Up spoke the President of ACIF, Cristina Pedra, to say that none of this was at all true and that the only problem was the smallness of the market which left no margin for a second operator and tended to put off any newcomers. ..
She neglected to inform those present that according to the police investigation, her family has (or had) a stake in the Ports monopoly through and Offshore company; that her father was the trade union representative and administrator at the company that supplied the labour for the Ports operation, of which the Sousas were also shareholders; that a whole series of family companies were suppliers to this same company, and so on and so forth...

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