ECONOMY

106 billion for green businesses

The Development Ministry has set aside a budget of 106 billion drachmas to help businesses in Attica improve their competitiveness via measures that will simultaneously enhance the environment, Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday. Competitiveness and environmental protection are not incompatible concepts, he told a press conference. The proposals are incorporated in legislation under the title Sustainable Development and are due to be tabled in Parliament shortly. It will replace the existing presidential decree on the environment, which has been in place for the last 17 years. While acknowledging that the new measures could jack up costs for small enterprises, the minister said an improved environment should be seen as an invaluable asset for future generations. Equally important, the trend toward green entrepreneurship could spur the creation of new jobs. Environment Minister Costas Laliotis said the proposed legislation on sustainable development will resolve the two major problems troubling the Attica basin. On the one hand, the measures will protect the environment and improve the quality of life. On the other, they will encourage companies to modernize their production processes and create new jobs, thus dealing with two serious problems in Attica, he said at the joint press conference. The ministers ruled out any plans in the immediate future to impose an environment tax to help fund the move toward sustainable development. They said, however, the idea is under discussion. The sustainable development program has identified 10 sectors which will be subsidized by the State. Nearly a third of the funds amounting to 30 billion drachmas will go toward helping companies update their technology, which will have an environmental focus. The second largest outlay of 19.5 billion drachmas will be spent on environmental protection projects at industrial parks. The rest of the budget will be spread between projects to improve companies’ environmental programs, invest in recycling units and set up affluent management units. The majority of the projects will be up for tender in the coming months, while two have already published expressions of interest. The Development Ministry’s move toward sustainable development is in line with the European Union’s strategy which was reaffirmed at the EU’s Cardiff summit in 1998.