By Dimitra Manifava
The Development Ministry is putting to public consultation a bill that provides for the absorption of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) by Invest in Greece to create a new entity that will be named Enterprise Greece SA.
This means that the 36-year-old HEPO will be dissolved while Invest in Greece is strengthened. The new entity will not incorporate the Offices of Economic and Commercial Affairs (OEY), located in foreign countries but there will be close cooperation with Enterprise Greece and an exchange of staff.
The ministry aims to have the bill voted into law within November so that the new entity can start operating from early 2014. This is quite an ambitious target given the many steps that need to be taken, including the selection and hiring of a specialized consultant who will evaluate the personnel and prepare Enterprise Greece’s operation plan.
HEPO employees, who numbered 37 people on December 31, 2012, will be transferred as of January 1 next year to the new company in similar positions to those that they currently hold, without severance pay.
Although Enterprise Greece’s charter does not mention any specific number of staff, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and his deputy, Notis Mitarakis, argued yesterday that a total of 140 people will be required to run the new organization. Mitarakis said that although it will not be manned through transfers from other state agencies, its charter would allow that to happen, as it would allow employees to be borrowed from the private sector.
The ministry also announced the formation of two other entities that will cooperate with Enterprise Greece. They will be the Extrovert Policy Coordination Committee, under the prime minister with the participation of the ministries of Development, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Tourism, Agricultural Development and Macedonia-Thrace, and the General Directorate for International Economic and Commercial Policy, which is to be set up at the Development Ministry.