Greece’s constant slide down the international competitiveness charts reflects just some of the problems that anyone wishing to start an enterprise in this country faces. Despite numerous promises in recent years and the introduction of several changes, the one-stop shop services and fast-track processes have become something of a joke in the market, as in practice they have done very little to facilitate starting a business and implementing an investment.
In its institutional framework subpage the website of the General Commercial Register (GEMI) has more than 200 circulars, letters and decisions regarding starting, setting up and operating enterprises in Greece, besides the numerous basic laws and dozens of ministerial decisions.
Two years ago the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) calculated the cost to businesses of administrative burdens in 13 key areas in Greece at 3.28 billion euros. “Add to this the countless working hours needed,” say market sources.
A few days ago the Economy Ministry put a bill on the “New Institutional Framework for Exercising Financial Activity” up for consultation. It focuses on the new licensing system for enterprises in the food and drink manufacturing sector, food service and tourism. One of Greece’s bailout commitments, it is expected to have the same fate as most such bills: “It will be a dead letter,” a lawyer specializing in corporate licensing told Kathimerini.
In practice, market sources say that following its registration at GEMI, the local chamber that operates as a one-stop shop, a new business seeking a license gets an appointment two weeks later – due to the workload. Even in cases where a deadline is set by the state for the completion of the procedure, many employees at the regional authorities (depending on the type of permit required) often present pretexts, asking for the resubmission of certificates and other documents, thereby bringing the process back to square one. Consequently, the deadline is rendered irrelevant, with the licensing process exceeding six months in many cases. Worse, if there is no clear zoning status in the area in question, there may well be further delays.