ECONOMY

Licensing agency and ombudsman for investments

The bill that the Development Ministry is expected to table in Parliament on Thursday will speed up the issuing of permits required for the completion of strategic investments, and provides for smaller-than-anticipated tax exemptions for investment plans that will enjoy the benefits of the recently introduced investment incentives legislation.

Sources say that among the measures in the bill are the creation of a general directorate for private investments at the ministry, which will operate as the central licensing authority, and the appointment of an investors’ ombudsman, a service supplied by the Invest In Greece organization.

Furthermore, the draft law has a provision that will allow investors whose projects have entered the fast-track process to stay in the country for 10 years, while conceding five-year licenses to non-European Union citizens who have obtained a visa to enter Greece and own properties in Greece that exceed 300,000 euros.

Banks will also be able to survey and evaluate the investment plans. If an investor supplies a letter of guarantee equal to the state subsidy for his project plus 10 percent, he will be able to get up to 100 percent of the subsidy in advance. However, the supply of tax exemptions to investments enjoying the benefits of the law will depend on the country’s fiscal conditions and should not be taken for granted.

A company named Seacoast Front SA will be set up to administer, operate and utilize the public and private estates along the Attica coastline from Neo Faliro to Sounio, lasting for 99 years, against an original plan for 50 years.

The new bill and the government’s next moves in the realization of investments were the focus of a meeting on Wednesday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis. On his way out of the premier’s office, the minister stated that there will soon be some positive news and developments on the investments front, on the simplification of procedures, interventions for the improvement of competitiveness, and the promotion of public works.

In the next few days Hatzidakis will visit Paris, where he will meet with the French finance minister as Athens examines the participation of French funds in the Greek investment fund.