Minister Dempsey welcomes completion of the Final Stage of Harbours (Amendment) Bill
The Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey TD, today welcomed the completion of the Final Stage of the Oireachtas debate on the Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008 in Seanad Éireann on Tuesday July 14. The bill now awaits the signature by the President before it becomes law.
Speaking today the Minister said; “Ireland’s commercial ports are vital to our economy. These ports handle 99% by volume of the island’s external trade. Once enacted this new Bill will enhance the commercial ethos of the ten State port companies, which provide such a key role in facilitating trade in to and out of the State.
I am confident that with the changes introduced in this Bill our State commercial port companies will be better placed to provide the modern, dynamic, commercially focussed services the sector requires to meet the challenges it faces.
Since the formation of the State’s commercial port companies beginning in 1996 the sector as a whole has undergone a very significant organisational and cultural change. The Government’s Ports Policy Statement, published in 2005, identified a number of key areas of focus to further this transition from harbour boards to commercial companies. The Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008 contains a number of provisions to provide the recommendations of the Ports Policy Statement with a firm legislative basis.”
The Bill builds upon the key recommendations of the Government’s 2005 Ports Policy Statement, which included:
· Encouragement of private sector investment and involvement
- Section 3 of the Bill will aid the plans of Drogheda Port Company in their proposed joint venture development of a new port at Bremore by providing for a Minister to alter or extend the limits of any port company.
· Clearer and more focussed commercial mandates for the ports and their boards
- Section 5 provides for a clear legislative basis to underpin investment by port companies outside their current harbour limits. This amendment is considered necessary in order to facilitate the development and successful completion of proposals relating to investment by port companies outside existing harbour limits and outside the State.
· Enhancing board performance through reform of the structure of port boards
- Section 8 of the Bill amends the Articles of Association of each port company to provide for a total of 8 rather than 12 directors.
- Section 11 of the Bill removes the statutory representation of local authority directors on each board. The port companies were alone among the State commercial sector in having this statutory representation. The Minister has stated that he will, however, continue to appoint one local authority director to each Board from among his own nominees.
· Encouragement of healthy competitive conditions within and also between ports
- Section 9 provides for greater flexibility as regards port companies’ capacity to borrow funds, which will aid a number of proposed port development projects. The development of modern, adequate, additional port capacity facilities will help foster competition between the port companies.