BUSINESS

Greece aims at saving 7 bln euros by cutting red tape

Greece's slow and burdensome bureaucracy is estimated to cost the cash-strapped country a total of 14 billion euros a year, or 6.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) -- almost double the European Union average of 3a.5 percent -- according to conclusions of a recent meeting between Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis, Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and a team from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Athens.

The OECD has sent a team of advisers to Athens to work with the government on cutting red tape, with the aim of reducing bureaucracy by 25 percent by the end of 2013, which would mean savings of as much as 7 billion euros.

In a deal signed between Manitakis, Hatzidakis and the OECD, the Paris-based organization will undertake an inspection of 13 crucial sectors before making recommendations on how red tape can be reduced in order to cut administrative and legislative costs, and to boost the country's flagging competitiveness.

The sectors that will come under scrutiny include the energy market, agricultural subsidies, public contracts, telecommunications, tourism and the pharmaceutical market, as well as taxation laws.

The government signed two separate agreements with the OECD team, one on curbing administrative costs and the other on measures for boosting competition.

According to the latter, the OECD will propose measures for more competitive pricing policies, boosting consumer choice, reversing attitudes that work against competition, encouraging investment and boosting exports, Hatzidakis said following the signing ceremony.

The aim of the agreements, according to Manitakis, is to slash by 80 percent the cost of administrative red tape, with a 25 percent reduction by the end of 2013 and savings of 2.4 percent of GDP by 2025.

The first phase of the program will be completed by April next year and the second phase by September.

Online