A new policy for development

How will you deal with the post-Olympic gap in development and the pressure on finances? With new policies in all areas. We see that the basic disincentives to development arise from problems with tax, bureaucracy and town planning. The government’s first law was against red tape; we’ve talked about tax; the next issue is town planning. There can be no serious land policy without town planning. The environment comes in here. Of course we must respect the environment, but we must also meet development needs. We need to apply a more balanced town-planning policy. Take the East Attica Prefecture, for instance, the prefect cannot intervene in such a way by imposing crushing taxation and impeding the operation of businesses. By town planning, do you mean a general plan or a plan for individual areas? If we wait for a general plan, we’ll get nowhere. I mean for individual areas, for example, a coastal zone or a state-owned area that many lay claim to and some have encroached on. This could be planned, terms of light development could be stipulated, environmental and other problems could be clarified and land use rules established. State-owned land handled in this way could be sold by international competition and become high-quality tourism development sites, such as a resort with golf links or other high quality services, or holiday houses for foreigners. Do you mean investment in tourism only? No, they might be industrial areas. Poles of development Won’t there be opposition? There always will be, but if the rules are clear, it can be overcome. I’m not saying we must become another Hong Kong. Besides, Greece isn’t that densely populated. In the right circumstances, with the consent and cooperation of the Environment and Tourism ministries and full attention paid to the environmental dimension, we can create poles of development in many parts of the country. Is that the full extent of your development policy? Obviously not. We will take action to liberalize major sectors of the economy, starting with energy. Rules are important here in ensuring unimpeachable procedures. We will also institute reforms in public administration and the market, but that requires study, careful steps and tangible results. Will you raise the issue of insurance reform? Not for the present. We don’t want to get involved in clashes that lead to impasses. Let’s see how things develop then we’ll deal with them. Does the same apply to the job market? Yes, though the problem is different. We have two regimes in the job market. One is hedged about with restrictions, the other is completely free, that of immigrants and the black economy, where there are no rules, no obligations. This double regime has its advantages, but it doesn’t suit us. We’ll look at that in time. There’s a general impression that you are not in a hurry. There is so much to do that we needn’t start with major projects that can tie everything else up. We will achieve our goals with care and planning, starting with the small and the necessary.