OPINION

Foreign investment is vital

foreign-investment-is-vital

In order to stand on its feet and move forward, the country needs major foreign investment. The figures don’t add up otherwise. Everyone knows that, including Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, I assume. If he fails to attract some kind of investment very soon, however, it will be game over for Greece. Words are not enough. Nor is anyone convinced by his assurances that “if you want such and such a project, we will take care of it.”

Normal investors go in search of normal countries, places where they know the next day won’t bring tax, judicial, bureaucratic and political surprises.

For the time being, we have developed a very bad brand, that of an absolutely abnormal, unpredictable country.

Let us assume that there is no time to rectify our failings in order to attract new investors. Nothing would prove more useful in the battle for investment than for existing investments to be allowed to proceed smoothly. The gold-mining project, the privatization of airports, the port of Piraeus and the development of the former airport plot at Elliniko are all crucial investments. If they go ahead – all of them or at least one or two – the signal sent by Greece will be loud and clear.

The future of these projects, however, is anything but certain. Cabinet ministers and government officials are fighting against them, both in public and behind the scenes. The Maximos Mansion is keeping away, afraid that any kind of intervention would lead to harsh criticism by old and current comrades. How can you attract new investors when you’re pushing away those who have already invested their money in the country?

There are those who argue that the situation will improve and that time is needed for Tsipras, his ministers, the party and the officials now managing the public sector to mature. The thing is, though, that there is no time. Society is seething and if the real economy does not restart, it will blow up. There is no money for growth, except for from exisiting foreign investment and European Union structural funds. Anyone who believes that Greece is a unique destination for global investment which has nowhere else to go is living in a bubble.

I understand Tsipras’s difficulty when it comes to going against his and his party’s DNA. Careers were built on protesting against any kind of investment. It’s tough knowing that you will be blamed for what you effortlessly blamed others for. Nevertheless this vicious cycle must be broken, because, if it isn’t we will be up against a wall.