The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos addressed the Plenary Session of the Hellenic Parliament, on 11 November 2021, in a discussion of the Bill of the Ministry of Justice on: “Amendments of the Penal Code and the Code of Penal Procedure, other provisions pertinent to the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice”.
In his address, the Minister informed the Plenary on the Amendment 1126/91/8-11-2021 on the continuation of the support to the shipbuilding works conducted at “Elefsis Shipyards” in order for the construction of gunboat no. 7 to be completed and for the works for the four submarines at the Hellenic Shipyards, at Skaramangas, to be continued.
Mr. Panagiotopoulos stated the following:
I took the floor in order to support the Amendment proposed by the Ministry of National Defence, no. 1126 and special no. 91/8-11-2021, which includes two Provisions related to the continuation of the support of the shipbuilding works held at “Elefsis Shipyards” in order for the building of the remaining patrol gunboat “number 7” to be completed and for the works on the four submarines of the Hellenic Navy at the Hellenic Shipyards, Skaramangas, to be continued.
I express my hope that this is the last time that the government will have to forward extension requests of the contracts signed between the Hellenic Navy and the employees of the shipyards, in order for this shipbuilding work to be completed since attempts to ensure investments on both those shipyards are underway.
As far as you may know, an investor has already been found for the Hellenic Shipyards. There is some delay due to legal implications caused by proceedings that have been instituted. I think that they will be solved and I wish they are solved as soon as possible, for the investor to finally settle and implement the investment at the Hellenic Shipyards. Regarding Elefsis Shipyards, there is also an ongoing effort to find an investor and some have already expressed their interest.
So, I think that these successive amendments, three-month extensions of the contracts between the Hellenic Navy and the employees in order for the latter to continue working and being paid, and for the construction works to be completed in both these Shipyards, since their importance for the support of Hellenic Navy units is acknowledged by everybody and not only by the government, we will proceed to this arrangement.
So, with this Amendment regarding Elefsis Shipyards, and at this point I ought to recognize your concern Mr. Vice Speaker as well as the concern of the Deputy Minister of Justice who also attends this discussion, because the area of Elefsis is your primary constituency region, and therefore, you conducted your own struggle in order to convey the concern of the employees. And we should note that what is important during these two years in which every quarter we approved amendments which extended the duration of contracts, was to support the employees and not to complete or accelerate the conduct of shipbuilding works. It was mostly related to the fact that the government acknowledged that these employees should not remain unemployed. The government supported it by its actions, even the whole parliament supported this approach.
As far as Elefsis Shipyards are concerned, this contract is extended for three more months (by 31 December 2021), so that “Patrol gunboat No. 7” will be delivered to the Hellenic Navy as soon as possible. We estimate this is to happen within the next year. The works are conducted at a relatively low pace, yet we believe that the last gunboat of the ones that had been assigned to be constructed at Elefsis Shipyards will be delivered to the Hellenic Navy within the next year.
The same applies also to Skaramangas Shipyards. As you know, their personnel support the maintenance works at the four submarines of the Hellenic Navy. They have gained this expertise over several years and they do their job well and, therefore, we consider that this contract should be extended until 31 December of this year, through the amendment that we proposed since we estimate that the pending legal proceedings will have been completed and the investor will have settled at Skaramanga Shipyards by this date and we may pass onto a new stage, a new era in the operation of these shipyards.
You know that for both contracts, this Amendment and the additional funding regards the payment of salaries, social security contributions for the employees, operational costs and personnel transportation services, materiel and services for the completion of the projects.
You know the procedure, you have approved in the past too, I do not need to say more. I just reiterate our estimation and hope that this is the last time that we will have to pass such an amendment in the Parliament. We have funded so far, the continuation of the employment of workers in both shipyards, and we tried to combine this with the production of shipbuilding works despite the existent problems. But I think that, if these two efforts are successful and investors settle at Elefsis Shipyards and at the Hellenic Shipyards, the situation will ameliorate very fast and, from the next year on, these two shipyards will be operating in a totally different manner. That will be a new era with any benefit it may bring to our National Defence Industry and the possibility to support the Hellenic Navy.