Playing privatization catch-up

Those responsible for the process of selection and transfer of state properties in the huge public investment program are racing against the clock, as the first package of real estate items to be sold should have been ready by the end of June.

Authorities are now working hard to complete the procedure required within the coming weeks in an effort to catch up with the strict timetable.

After the appointment of Costas Mitropoulos as managing director of the new privatizations fund, the next step concerns the compilation of a list of properties to be put up for sale, to be delivered to the Special Privatizations Committee in the coming days.

Sources suggest that this package will include the Greek state?s biggest asset, the old international airport at Elliniko in southern Athens, as well as plots at Anavyssos in southeastern Attica, Mesolongi in western Greece, Vathy on the island of Samos, Kaiafas in the Peloponnese, Alykes on Zakynthos and Prasonisi island, close to Rhodes.

This means that the first package will involve properties with a strong tourism interest, but they will only be of interest to investors once procedures such as town-planning studies have also been completed.

However, the haste with which the government is handling the privatizations process has already led to a number of embarrassing errors.

The government yesterday canceled the invitation for expression of interest for the hiring of a consultant for concession mining rights, as two of the three mines concerned have already had their rights conceded. The official statement yesterday, two days after the original announcement, suggested that the invitation would be reissued later with adjusted details.

The bill presented in mid-July regarding games of chance was made public 20 days before the European Commission issued its own comments on the issue, while the bill that Brussels has been examining is not exactly the same as the one presented by the Finance Ministry this month.

Yesterday the Financial Times attacked the process of renewing cell phone licenses, branding it shortsighted, as it could drive one of the three networks out of the market, the London daily suggested.