Plan for one-day permit process

Ambitious project aimed at cutting red tape and corruption in company licensing to become law in April By Dimitra Manifava

In an ambitious project aimed at boosting entrepreneurship and investment in Greece that Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis explained on Monday in the presence of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, companies will soon be able to start operating immediately after submitting a simple statement to their tax office and the General Commerce Register.

This innovative project introduces the principle of independent compliance on the part of entrepreneurs while the licensing will be conducted via an online portal which will operate as a central administration system. Furthermore, the government expects that the introduction of general standards corporations have to comply with will reduce corruption which the examination of each license request had allowed for. The new system will not examine whether each company fulfills the conditions of operation in advance, but its compliance with requirements will be monitored after it starts operating.

It also provides specific time limits for the completion of each process, not only for the licensing authorities but also for the entrepreneurs themselves, and even for the government, as the maximum time for the issue of the 21 ministerial decisions and presidential decrees required for the application of the measure will be nine months from the time the bill clears Parliament. The aim is for the bill to become law by early April so that it applies fully by the end of 2014.

“The aim is for the licensing of most companies to be completed on the same day and electronically,” said Samaras, adding that “unemployment cannot be reduced by mere wishes. Supporting entrepreneurship is a basic condition for boosting employment.”

Still, the volume of the secondary legislation required in ministerial decisions and presidential decrees, the gray areas concerning which activities will be exempted from the draft law’s application, and the absence of a complete zoning plan are threatening to render the bill void unless these issues are sorted out in a timely manner.