ECONOMY

Reforms reinforce agency’s firepower

Greece’s recently approved structural reforms are expected to help government representatives draw investor interest from abroad as they pack their bags for several trips in a bid to flag the upcoming changes. Invest in Greece, a state agency in charge of drawing foreign investment, is heading to Tel Aviv and Paris next week, in order to inform investors of changes reducing delays and costs for businesses operating in the country. «The biggest problem is Greece’s negative image,» Christos Alexakis, CEO of Invest in Greece, told Kathimerini English Edition on the sidelines of a conference on Thursday. The Israel investment forum is scheduled for Tuesday with the France trip arranged for Friday, along with the French-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. Last year, 800 million euros flowed into Greece from France, making the country the second-largest investor after Germany. However, interest from French firms eyeing Greece has so far has been «moderate,» admitted a source involved in the Paris trip. «Investors are waiting for the fast-track law. This will help in freeing up investments,» said Alexakis. The fast-track law, which was recently passed by Parliament, aims to help push through investments worth more than 250 million euros that have been caught up in the country’s notoriously bad bureaucracy. State Minister Haris Paboukis has been cited as saying that the fast-track law will free up 2.5 billion euros of investments in the first year alone. Other reforms that may provide Greece with some firepower in drawing investors are changes approved by the Cabinet on Thursday, including a new investment law that provides tax breaks for up to eight years for new companies and subsidies of up to 50 percent on new investments, depending on the location and nature of the project. Paboukis, a lawyer who has been given the task of making Greece more business-friendly, said a second fast-track law will be prepared in January, tidying up areas not properly addressed the first time around. «Life doesn’t change with the laws. Laws depend on how they are implemented,» he said on Thursday.