BUSINESS

Land deed and use confusion costs the state 8 billion a year

By Giorgos Lialios

Problems related to landownership status and usage cost Greece a cool 8 billion euros per year, according to a study conducted by the National Bank of Greece which calls for the urgent completion of the land registry and forest maps as well as extensive reforms.

Notably, the study also asks the state to be particularly cautious lest recent investment incentives such as the fast-track process and the new framework for luxury tourism accommodation lead to environmental destruction and the downgrading of the country’s tourism product.

The NBG study shows that nearly half of Greece’s surface area (65,000 square kilometers out of a total of more than 130,000 sq.km.) is claimed by private owners. However, according to historical sources, title deeds have only been issued issued for 40,000 sq.km. of that, most of which stemmed from the land distribution between 1871 and 1938. The remaining 25,000 sq.km. may have legal title deeds according to the law regarding adverse possession, provided they do not concern forestland, which as a rule remain public. However, the state’s forest claims amount to some 80,000 sq.km., or 60 percent of Greece’s surface area, as they are based on air photos dating to 1945.

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