ECONOMY

PPP projects seen driving growth

The government is taking steps to free up investments, mainly in tourism and energy, worth 4 billion euros in an attempt to stimulate growth. Another 16 billion euros’ worth of investment proposals need to be dealt with in a task that will be overseen by a joint-ministerial committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos and state foreign investment agency Invest in Greece. Economy, Competitiveness and Merchant Marine Minister Louka Katselis said yesterday that 22 investment projects worth 2.09 billion euros will be implemented via private-public partnerships (PPPs). The ruling Socialists, however, are pulling several projects that had been adopted by the previous government out of the PPP program, citing legal and technical problems. Among the projects that will be scrapped is a children’s oncology hospital for Thessaloniki budgeted at 654 million euros. Other projects to be shelved include the construction of buildings to be used by prefectures – an obvious change, given plans to reduce the size of local government via mergers as a means of slashing state spending. According to Katseli, 52 PPP projects worth 5.7 billion euros were approved from 2005 through the present. But only one of these, worth 25 million euros, will actually be going ahead – the construction of seven fire stations. Changes will also be made to the way the projects are financed from now on. All projects will have to obtain an initial nod from the European Investment Bank, which means that private investors and commercial lenders that get involved will be more confident about the necessary