Post-Olympic Games investment legislation to make venues more attractive to private enterprise

The government hopes to reap maximum benefits from venues constructed for last summer’s Olympic Games in Athens. Draft legislation presented on Wednesday by Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia will permit commercial and other activities at the Olympic sites so as to make them more attractive to private investors for long-term leases or contracts. Under consideration are a theme park at Hellenikon, a museum at the International Broadcasting Center, a golf course at Markopoulo, a marina at Aghios Cosmas, and a park on the site of the old racecourse at Faliron. Decisions have yet to be made on the cost of converting stadiums, such as the one in Liosia, and the procedures for allocating contracts at Hellenikon, Faliron and Markopoulo. The government’s priority is to maximize state revenues and stem the drain on the budget for maintenance of the sites, currently running at 80 million euros a year. Lack of planning for the post-Games period by the former government and an unfavorable real estate climate present obstacles to some types of development. The draft bill «clearly establishes the role of the state, the role of private investors and the role of local communities in this plan,» said Palli-Petralia. It also establishes a 2 percent tax on investors which will benefit local government organizations. The General Secretariat for the Olympic Games has been renamed the General Secretariat for Olympic Development and will work alongside Olympic Real Estate SA, which has taken charge of the venues. Objecting to the draft bill, former PASOK deputy culture minister Nasos Alevras commented: «The Olympic venues will remain closed to the public until 2007. On the pretext of making use of the venues, they are being handed over to private companies with a ‘dowry’ of commercial use and, in some cases, the right to build permanent or prefabricated installations.» To which the ministry responded, «Mr Alevras does not know the contents of the draft bill.»

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