ECONOMY

Paper trail maddeningly long

The setting up of an industrial business, small or large, in Greece requires between eight to 70 forms of paperwork in order to get the operation off the ground, based on current law. Apart from costing a lot of time and money, the existance of this complicated legal framework provides the right environment for an unbelievably corrupt system, as many businesspeople are forced into bribing officials in order to speed up procedures. On the other hand, because of the incredible bureaucracy there are a number of potential investors who decide against going ahead with any investment while others simply sidestep the entire process. Some people set up industrial businesses without obtaining the necessary permits and operate in an unregulated environment that may be harmful to the health of nearby residents and the natural environment. The agreement Greece signed with the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank demands that by the end of 2010 the government simplify the laws regarding the permits that businesses need to obtain. The Regional Development and Competitiveness Ministry is preparing a draft law that will focus on the setup of a one-stop shop for businesses beginning operations. Based on current legislation, the permits needed to set up and operate an industrial business are the following: a license for the use of the land, an installation and operations permit. In order to obtain this paperwork, any investor needs to get approval from more than nine different state services, including the local prefecture, the Culture Ministry, forest service and power company PPC. In the event that the business is set up an industrial zone, procedures are simpler and just two permits are needed. According to a recent study put together by the Central Union of Chambers of Greece (KEEE), just 31 percent of Greece’s prefectures contain industrial zones able to accommodate manufacturing units. In the remaining parts of Greece, almost nine in 10 industrial businesses are set up in a city or in an area that lies just outside city planning districts.