Fast-track scheme aims to speed up investments

Judicial authorities have been tasked with implementing a fast-track scheme aimed at allowing much-needed investments and infrastructure works to proceed quickly, similar to one used to complete Olympic venues in time for the Athens 2004 Games, Kathimerini has learned.

The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, and the State Audit Council are to handle the bulk of the cases relating to major investments or those deemed to be of strategic national significance.

As regards appeals, which have slowed down countless projects in the past, new legislative provisions will oblige those considering legal action to pay a charge equal to 1 percent of the value of the contract, sources said. The amendment, it is hoped, will discourage much litigation.

The fast-track scheme aims to enforce a package of measures passed through Parliament and aimed at removing obstacles to much-needed investments, which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has pledged to pursue as part of a bid to revive Greece’s economy. The acceleration of procedures would also allow Greece to increase its absorption of European Union subsidies, another goal highlighted by Samaras.

Greece’s cumbersome legal system has long been regarded as a disincentive by would-be foreign investors, along with the ubiquitous red tape that government officials insist has been slashed. The new reforms aim to involve the judiciary in efforts to provide incentives for investments.

The initiative comes at a time of anticipated upheaval in the judicial sector with a large number of top-ranking officials scheduled to leave their posts by the end of the month – in most cases because they have exceeded the recommended age limit of 75.

It is unclear whether the expected exodus – along with a broader streamlining of the civil service being demanded by the troika – will provoke resistance among judges tasked with accelerating court cases. In any case, sources say, the appointment of new officials in the top echelons of the country’s judiciary is likely to create new tensions within the coalition government.