Hoping to boost local businesses while providing a more attractive environment for potential foreign investors, the government yesterday unveiled a draft law that will drastically reduce the red tape involved in setting up manufacturing plants. Following an Inner Cabinet session, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, which approved the new bill, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas told journalists the reforms would include an 80 percent reduction in the time and paperwork involved in issuing licenses for manufacturing operations. «This amounts to a small revolution in the process of granting operating permits to a very large number of companies, most of which are small and medium-sized firms,» Sioufas said. «Out of the 20 permits currently required for a company to start up, 12 will be abolished and only eight will still be necessary.» The minister said that, in many cases, the paper chase and subsequent waiting period while the documents are being processed can take up to two years. The new bill allows for the process to be completed within 10-30 days. Furthermore, when manufacturing businesses change hands, the new owners will no longer be obliged to obtain a new license. And for companies in Attica, the license will be extended from six to eight years. The reforms, which are expected to affect up to half a million companies, will be followed up by new draft legislation simplifying the licensing process for all commercial companies. According to Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, who is in charge of the team that will draft the second bill, anyone interested in setting up a new commercial enterprise currently has to secure up to 109 certificates and official documents in the process.