ECONOMY

Plans to accelerate privatizations [UPDATE]

Top ministers were on Thursday to debate plans for accelerating the planned privatization of state assets with talks set to focus on the planned exploitation of state gaming company OPAP and the extension of a lease on Athens International Airport.

The aim is to meet targets imposed by Greece?s foreign creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, also known as the troika — and raise 1.3 billion euros in revenue by the end of September with an addiitional 3.5 billion euros in the last quarter.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday that the government might not sell OPAP itself, as originally planned, but its management rights. «We have not pledged to sell OPAP, we have pledged that we will have revenues from OPAP (to reduce) the public debt,? Venizelos said. «The Cabinet will appraise what is the best way to raise the revenues targeted.”

Finance Ministry sources told Kathimerini that they believe the targets are attainable as long as the EC speeds up its approval procedures. Venizelos has reportedly broached the matter in a letter to European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn while the head of a privatizations agency, Costas Mitropoulos, is to discuss this issue with visiting members of the troika.

In a related development meanwhile, it emerged that Germany?s Finance Ministry, in close cooperation with Greece?s Development Ministry, is considering a slew of possible investments in Greece?s tourism, energy and infrastructure sectors. According to sources, the Germans are currently investigating the most potentially lucrative areas to channel funds and the bureaucratic hurdles they must overcome. Germany?s Minister Philip Roessler for Economics and Technology, who on Wednesday chaired a meeting of 30 German business groups before speaking to Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, is to lead a delegation of entrepreneurs on a scheduled visit to Greece next month.

Greece?s Development Ministry said it believes it can attract between 40 and 50 billion euros in investments over the next five years.