ECONOMY

Twenty foreign investors already granted residence permits

Some 20 residence permits have already been granted to foreign investors who have purchased Greek real estate following the implementation of a law aimed at attracting investments to Greece. Foreign Ministry data show that in addition to these five-year permits given to non-European Union citizens for investing at least 250,000 euros in property in Greece, many more applications and hundreds of questions remain outstanding, showing that there is major interest in the benefits of the incentive.

Angelos Syrigos, the ministry’s general secretary for population and social cohesion, told an event organized by Invest in Greece on Monday in Athens that most of the permits have been granted to Russian and Ukrainian nationals. Other recipients include citizens of Canada and the US, as well as one from China, though most of the outstanding applications are from Chinese nationals. Some of the applications have come from people who had held considerable real estate holdings in Greece even before the paw was passed.

Invest in Greece chief executive Stefanos Isaias noted that since mid-April, when Law 4146 was passed, the agency’s information bureau has been inundated with over 300 queries regarding this very issue, while in the whole of 2012 all of the questions posed about investments in general numbered 850. About 60 percent of those queries originated from within Greece – mostly from local estate agencies representing mainly Russian foreign investors – with the rest coming from countries such as China, India, Egypt and Lebanon.

Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis told the same event that among the benefits of the law on residence permits are an incentive for new construction work in the holiday accommodation sector and the creation of more tourism infrastructure.

He went on to announce that regulations concerning residence permits and citizenship would be subject to change in the coming months, as the government is hoping to resolve problems that have cropped up relating to the application of legislation on residence permits to foreign investors. Mitarakis added that the central licensing authority for investments will start operating in end-November.