Fresh uses for leasing

It is not usual for public bodies to resort to leasing to buy their equipment. Conversely, leasing firms do not seek contracts with the public sector. Recently, however, municipalities appear to have discovered this form of transaction. At least this is what leasing experts say. Over the past few months, local governments have expressed a strong interest in equipment procurement through leasing. The demand is not confined to the Athens area, where most leasing firms are based, but is spread across the country, especially in big regional municipalities such as Trikala, Ioannina, Pyrgos and others. Initially, municipalities were interested in leasing garbage trucks and mechanical equipment. Lately, they have also expressed interest in leasing office equipment. A high-ranking manager in a leasing company told Kathimerini that this interest stems from the fact that the European Union offers subsidies to local authorities for current expenditure, but not for the acquisition of equipment. Thus municipalities turn to leasing to get their equipment, knowing that a great part of their expenditure will be subsidized by the EU. In this case, acquiring the equipment, including the trucks, becomes less expensive. Leasing firms also stand to gain because they are going to be paid immediately. One of the reasons leasing firms avoided the public sector like the plague is that the law does not cover them in case of non-payment, since it forbids confiscation of public property. It also forbids penalties for delayed payment by public authorities to private companies. Leasing firms say that, in other countries, equipment-leasing contracts are very common.