ECONOMY

Unused real estate could earn state billions

More than a third of the properties owned by the state are currently being used by companies or people who have no authority to do so, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED).

Andreas Taprantzis, an executive member of the TAIPED board, told The Economist Conference in Athens on Tuesday that out of the 80,714 state properties in the portfolios of 30 state bodies, there are 28,264 that TAIPED brands ?occupied,? i.e. they are being utilized in an illegal manner with the state not receiving a single euro. That figure does not include public use buildings.

The properties are being used by companies or individuals without legal authorization for purposes ranging from illegal business to squatting.

Out of the tens of thousands of properties recorded and examined by TAIPED, there are 3,152 prime assets that could be utilized after the appropriate preparation, bringing revenues of over 10 billion euros into the state coffers, according to a preliminary evaluation.

While there are more than 13,600 others whose evaluation is pending, Taprantzis said that there is also a long list of properties whose possible utilization has been rejected at this stage. They are 51,794 properties with a total surface area of 1,400 square kilometers.

TAIPED is therefore focusing on those 3,152 prime assets, and may also throw in properties that are not expected to generate much interest, bringing the total number of pre-selected properties for possible revenues to 4,862.

Fund officials say that this number of assets could bring about a second wave of investment amounting to a total of 18 billion euros. The most profitable use of those properties would be as holiday accommodation, as that would help bring money in from overseas as well. Such use is also considered minimally damaging to the environment.

There is also another list of so-called special assets, numbering 10,457, that could be used to boost state revenues, including 572 islands or islets. They include 3,231 properties of public use.

Taprantzis said that the utilization of these state assets is an arduous and long-term process, noting that on average, he estimates that assets leased, sold or otherwise utilized need an average of around 18 months before they can start making money for the state.

He also said that an excessive supply of properties in the current conditions of difficulty to obtain credit and low demand would not bring the desired result. He added that a good idea might be the processing of solutions such as the discounting of future revenues.