Investors sought for land registry

After years of trying to establish a comprehensive record of landownership on its own, Greece has decided to hand part of the task of creating a complete land registry to private companies.

Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said on Thursday that the government would seek to form partnerships with investors, including those from abroad, who are willing to help draw up Greece?s as yet incomplete cadastre.

?We have to look at cooperating with the private sector,? he said. ?If we continue at the current pace, the registry will not be completed on time. We are in discussions about how we might attract investment from other countries so the project can speed up.?

With the help of European Union funding, Greece first launched the project to record the use and ownership of land in 1995, but it ran into repeated delays and government indifference.

Both the previous New Democracy government and the current PASOK administration have tried to kick-start the project, with only limited success. The cadastre could play a significant part in the government?s privatization scheme when it comes to selling or leasing public land, whose ownership might be in dispute.

?We are examining a number of options, even the participation of a strategic partner in the share capital of the land cadastre,? Papaconstantinou said in response to a question from Kathimerini.

Sources said that companies have expressed an interest in conducting the land surveys necessary for the details of property ownership to be recorded on the cadastre. The next phase of the project is due to focus on parts of Evia, Viotia and Attica.

During Thursday?s news conference, Papaconstantinou confirmed his plans to proceed with a scheme to allow owners of illegally built properties to pay a fine that would protect those homes and offices from demolition. The details of the scheme have yet to be agreed.