By Dimitra Manifava
The Development Ministry will attempt to apply the one-stop shop model to strategic investments to accelerate the licensing process, minister Costis Hatzidakis announced on Wednesday, in a bid to convince investors to put their money in Greece. The principle of “first licensing, then monitoring” will also apply, along with the ministry securing the authority to intervene in town-planning and zoning issues to overcome obstacles that concern environmental legislation.
These are the main changes included in the system of licensing for strategic investment that Hatzidakis presented yesterday. He added that the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, will not be bypassed and that, aside from intervention powers, the new licensing authority will also have various other functions.
The process will begin with the submission of an application by the investor for inclusion to the fast-track system of the “Invest in Greece” agency, which operates as a one-stop shop for private investors. Each proposal will be assigned to an Invest in Greece official, who will be responsible for its monitoring and the investor’s communication with the General Directorate for Licensing.
The directorate that is being set up at the ministry will be responsible for the central coordination of issuing permits for strategic investments and issuing the relevant presidential decrees or ministerial decisions required. The aim is for licenses to be issued within 45 days.
For the permits deemed to be of secondary strategic significance, the ministry is proposing to allow the investors to pledge to stick to the conditions for the permits issued. In case an investor violates this pledge, the permit will be immediately revoked.
Crucially, the requirement of a letter of guarantee by investors will be abolished when the investment enters the fast-track system. The reason for this is because, according to sources, out of the 13 projects already being fast-tracked, only two have come with a letter of guarantee, thereby stalling the process.