SVVE urges more CSFIII funding for the private sector

The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) has noted delays in the implementation of the European Union-subsidized Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) investment plan, mainly due to legal weaknesses and centering on the program for bolstering the competitiveness of enterprises. Using a series of studies, SVVE has unveiled a number of proposals in view of a planned CSFIII revision, due to be considered in Thessaloniki in the presence of Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas on December 17. SVVE officials told a press briefing yesterday that projects that will benefit from the revision must be selected according to their contribution to competitiveness and not under pressure to achieve a higher absorption rate. «The main criterion must be efficiency and not exclusively the likelihood of a loss of funds,» said SVVE President Nikos Symeonidis. He repeated a proposal for urgently setting up a framework for private and public sector cooperation, with a view to boosting the participation of private capital in CSFIII projects. «In Greece, initiatives for jointly financed projects are piecemeal and depend on statutory provisions,» said SVVE Executive Vice-President Yiannis Stavrou, adding that the participation of the private sector in CSF programs is only 22 percent, compared to Portugal’s 35-40 percent. The revision should provide for the additional funding of investment schemes in the manufacture and trade of farm products, and for important infrastructure projects, such as the Egnatia Highway which spans the length of northern Greece, and its vertical axes. SVVE’s proposals include a new framework for the implementation of regional sectoral programs and the handover of responsibility from various public agencies to the central government. SVVE also notes that the competitiveness program is fragmented into thousands of small budget proposals of a «doubtful developmental result.» It proposes simplification of approval and monitoring procedures and systematic quality control of projects. Separately, Pachtas yesterday urged sectoral CSFIII directors to accelerate procedures, aimed at ensuring that funds approved for the current year are not lost and that further applications are submitted before the year-end deadline.