NEWS

Tsipras vows business-friendly policies, but bureaucracy remains a scourge

TAGS: Politics

The government is continuing to send out mixed signals with regard to its commitment to reforms that will invite much-needed investments, as its deeds do not appear to match its words.

A case in point was the contradiction in statements Tuesday by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and a representative of the NCH Capital venture capital firm, Thodoros Pangratis, who claimed a multi-million-euro investment project on Corfu was being obstructed.

During a visit to the Papastratos tobacco plant in Aspropyrgos, western Attica on Tuesday, Tsipras insisted the only way Greece can exit its protracted financial crisis is by creating an investment-friendly environment through the implementation of the necessary reforms, including a reduction in bureaucracy.

“The prospects are being created so that Greece can once again become an attractive investment destination,” Tsipras said, promoting the narrative that the coalition is laying the groundwork for a business-friendly environment.

But his statements appeared to be at odds with remarks by Pangratis, who told a radio station on Corfu that a 100-million-euro investment by the fund for the construction of an upmarket tourist resort in the area of Erimitis on the island is being stalled.

According to reports, one of the main obstacles to the project is the mayor of Corfu, Costas Nikolouzos, who is also a senior official of the ruling SYRIZA party.

The case of the Corfu mayor is is yet another instance of senior SYRIZA party members opposing investment projects, ostensibly on ideological grounds.

Tsipras’s visit to the Papastratos plant was part of a round of visits to businesses that survived the country’s financial meltdown.

He cited Papastratos as a fine example of a company that not only survived the crisis, but also went to on to make a big investment in 2015, at the height of economic uncertainty. Tsipras lauded the company for taking “such a risk” at the time to invest in Greece, saying it was a vote of confidence in the Greek economy.

However, critics say the company survived not because of the government’s actions, but rather in spite of them – as its 300-million-euro investment project was hatched when capital controls were imposed by the SYRIZA government.

Nonetheless, Tsipras insisted that the economic outlook in Greece had improved with the conclusion of the second bailout review, adding that investments in the first half of 2017 were more than 1 billion euros.

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