ECONOMY

Priorities set to restart economy

The restart of construction work on four main highways, the acceleration in the absorption of community funds, the privatizations of railway companies TRAINOSE and ROSCO, and the improvement of the framework for attracting investments are the biggest of the 10 priorities announced by the Development Ministry on Thursday.

Minister Costis Hatzidakis said that among the moves planned for the next few months is the creation of a new framework to speed up the licensing of new enterprises and giving his ministry more powers to provide licenses for big investments.

Hatzidakis added that the steps announced — all of which are linked to Greece?s bailout agreement Greece with its creditors — are aimed at restarting the economy. By end-August there will be another package of priorities presented that are not connected to the bailout.

The measures announced include the revision of contracts for four major road projects, the acceleration of fund absorption from the National Strategic Reference Framework and the privatization of the Hellenic Railway Organization (OSE) subsidiaries TRAINOSE and ROSCO. They also include steps for the attraction of new investment, the reduction of regulations hampering the entry of companies to Greece in order to improve the operation of the market, the simplification of licensing procedures and the creation of a national exports strategy. According to the plan, 37 regional airports will be privatized following the reorganization of the Civil Aviation Authority, the intercity coach market (KTEL) will be liberalized by 2015 instead of 2019 and a new framework for procurements and public works will be introduced.

Hatzidakis made it clear that the government?s intention is for the corporate tax rate to drop to 15 percent, but he stopped short of setting a time frame for that.

The European Commission was quick on Thursday to express its satisfaction with the measures announced, saying in a statement that they constitute a ?clear sign of the Greek government?s commitment to the necessary reform of Greek economy.?