One day it’s Skouries, the next it’s Elliniko. Not bad, for a government that at least recognizes the importance of attracting investors and actively tries to convince them to come to Greece, to commit funds, to utilize human resources, so that they can profit from their investment while also providing jobs to Greeks and boosting the economy.
After seven years of crisis and internal devaluation, the cost of investing in Greece has fallen to attractive levels. Moreover, even though many have left to seek a better life abroad, the country still has a lot to offer in the way of highly educated people in the realms of science and technology.
The issue is that besides cheap but high-quality assets and labor, it has nothing else to offer. It is unstable, unpredictable and untrustworthy to a degree that is dangerously self-destructive.
Elliniko offers a textbook example of the kind of problem that big investments run into in Greece: An investor seals a deal with the state. The agreement, the investment plan, and the terms and conditions of the contract are approved by the government and ratified by the Parliament. And after all of that, in comes the opinion of a state body and the decision of a minister and it all collapses.
Regardless of whether the investment in Elliniko moves forward, whether the government intervenes to ensure the agreement is implemented, whether the investor gives in and accepts the changes that Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou has asked for, the damage has already been done.
The next time investors see an investment opportunity in Greece, if they think about it at all, they will think twice. And if they do decide to go through with it, they will need an even greater incentive to do so in spite of the general uncertainty and the risk of having decisions overturned.
I know of only two ways this can happen: Either we become an even cheaper country, offering even lower prices, with even lower returns, or we offer something else in exchange, under the table.
Consequently, the way this government is handling investments is a recipe for either more poverty or more corruption. Unfortunately, the two usually come together.