Cyprus' new deputy minister of shipping is building a new kind of shipping ministry that is geared toward the needs of its clients
Although Cyprus has long been an important shipping location, it has not, in the past, had the depth of government support to build on its position.
That is changing under Natasa Pilides.
Ms Pilides is Cyprus’ first-ever deputy minister of shipping and reports directly to the president of Cyprus. Her background is that of director-general of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency, where she had plenty of contact with shipowners setting up offices in Cyprus.
“Twelve months ago it was a great honour to be asked by the president [of Cyprus] to set up the deputy ministry. For constitutional reasons, there can be no more ministries, and this was the first deputy ministry to have been approved,” Ms Pilides said.
The formation of the deputy ministry on 1 March 2018 was on the foundations of the former department of merchant shipping and included 160 people working in Cyprus in six offices, worldwide.
“There is a lot of expertise available, but we had to restructure and set new goals. This has been completed and we now have a three-tier structure incorporating the ship registry, the flag state and port state and coastal regulation side,” explained Ms Pilides.
The new set-up seems to be working well and, according to Ms Pilides garnering positive feedback on a client-orientated approach with 24/7 services and support for clients.
“We are providing a one-stop service,” she said. "Companies do not need to go to various different government departments as in the past."
The aim is to be more efficient.
Ms Pilides believes there is a link between digitalisation and competitiveness. As such, the deputy ministry has tendered out the digitalisation of records and the automation of services, such as an online seafarer's certificate, and it is not stopping there.
“The next step is the digitalisation of the registration process,” Ms Pilides said.
In the longer term, Ms Pilides believes the deputy ministry needs to be proactive on decarbonisation. The deputy ministry submitted a paper to MEPC 73 on suggestions for short-term measures to achieve greenhouse gas objectives, and this will continue at MEPC 74. She said that the deputy ministry is “helping the shipping industry establish a roadmap on how to achieve targets".
Ms Pilides noted that Cypriot legislation requires that a formal strategy body, presided over by the deputy minister and including private sector representatives, reviews the deputy ministry's progress toward its own goals.
When it comes to leadership style, Ms Pilides knows the style she does not wish to have: “I am definitely not an autocratic leader. I believe in teamwork, and what makes us competitive is that we are all trying to do the best for our clients and the economy of Cyprus.”