Privatizations will go ahead after all

The government has performed a U-turn on the issue of privatizations, as, according to the list of reforms that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis sent to the Eurogroup on Tuesday, the state will continue to sell its properties aiming at optimum utilization. It was also very encouraging for the course of the sell-off program that a court appeal against the Elliniko project has been rejected.

Varoufakis proposed to the country’s eurozone peers that the privatization projects that have already started should continue: “The Greek authorities will commit not to roll back privatizations that have been completed. Where the tender process has been launched the government will respect the process, according to the law,” the list of reforms stated.

It added that the government will “review privatizations that have not yet been launched, with a view to improving the terms so as to maximize the state’s long-term benefits.” The plan is also to merge state sell-off fund TAIPED “with various public asset management agencies with a view to developing state assets and enhancing their value through microeconomic and property rights’ reforms.”

Also on Tuesday the State Audit Council rejected an appeal by the Regional Authority of Attica against the utilization of the plot of the old Athens airport at Elliniko, conceded to a consortium led by Lamda Development, putting an end to the legal dispute over the project as this is an irrevocable decision.

In this context the next privatization project to be conceded to investors will likely be the horse race betting license. It is possible that Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani will host a meeting with TAIPED officials on Thursday in order to discuss ways of overcoming the impasse concerning the tender and the signing of the contract between the fund and the OPAP gaming company.

The settlement of the above project is urgent as the Hellenic Horse Racing Organization (ODIE) is generating losses every day that passes.