New Greek law to boost investment

ATHENS: Greece’s parliament on Thursday night approved legislation aimed at boosting private investment, a key condition for pulling the crisis-hit country out of its worst peacetime recession ever.

The new Investment Incentives Act aims to cut red tape by making a wider range of projects eligible for fast-track licensing and creating a new one-stop-shop for investors.

Among other things, the law establishes for the first time specific rules for the licensing and operation of seaplanes. Greece, which has hundreds of poorly connected islands and a large tourist industry, says this will improve access to many resorts.

“We cannot achieve growth and jobs with theories alone…we need new investments,” Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarachi said during the parliamentary debate.

The global financial crisis and harsh austerity measures imposed under two consecutive EU and IMF bailouts since 2010 shrunk the Greek economy by around a fifth between 2008 and 2012. Investment has dropped by about 60% during this period.

Weighed down by bureaucracy, corruption and doubts about its ability to stay in the euro zone, debt-ridden Greece is currently considered one of the worst places in Europe to do business and invest.

The country scores poorly in almost all international competitiveness tables compiled by institutes and organizations such as the World Economic Forum or the International Institute for Management Development.