OPINION

Race against time

race-against-time

The euphoria among Greek business circles after July’s election is beginning to spread abroad, albeit slowly. However, it will take a systematic and coordinated effort to convince serious investors and funds to put their money on our country. Greece’s bankruptcy and crisis are still very fresh in the minds of investors. When a Greek-American CEO at a multinational decides, for example, to invest a modest amount in our country, his executives follow his lead very reluctantly.

Everyone knows that Greece is cheap and has impressive human resources. For the time being, those taking an active interest are funds that invest in tourism and real estate. The government, meanwhile, is making a huge effort to change the Greek brand. The message is what it should be and it’s clear, all the way from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis, but a good deal of skepticism remains.

This mainly stems from concerns regarding whether emblematic investments will actually move ahead and whether the Greek state will really change and become investment-friendly. No matter how many statements European or American officials make, money will not be risked on the merit of statements by politicians – especially in Greece, where so many experienced investors lost significant amounts of money in 2015.

The prime minister banked on a positive shock. He avoided introducing any unpleasant measures in the first few weeks of his election and cultivated the image of an administration that is willing to take risks and push specific investment plans. He is now entering the crucial phase of implementation. He must not lose the momentum generated in the first months, as so often happens. The battle against bureaucracy, against vested interests, against absurd legislation and other obstacles can be exhausting. Even the most courageous and determined leaders are worn down at some point and decide to focus their energy and attention on two or three main goals, leaving the rest for later.

Mitsotakis has a lot on his plate and wants to deal with many different issues at once. As winter sets in, it will become apparent whether his goals are too optimistic given Greek reality or not. Investors at home and abroad waiting to see whether Greece is worth investing in, expect tangible results and quick victories. No brand makeover is convincing unless change is based on genuine and tangible facts. The race against time is on.