Desperate investors

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Alexis Papachelas is a guest editorial writer to The Business Thinker. He is currently the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”.

Many entrepreneurs who for years have waited patiently for their proposals to be examined in order to get to work on their investment projects are wondering when the government will finally decide to get around to looking at them. This has come to the fore after two major projects were pushed through under specially streamlined procedures, so it is only natural for the others to be awaiting answers about whether and when they will receive similar preferential treatment. Their hope is that they will not have to go through the pack of ambitious intermediaries full of promises of being able to push through investments.

The government and the Maximou Mansion have a clear role in the promotion of large investments. Nothing important can happen unless the prime minister or someone close to him with great influence puts his or her weight behind it. But this also means that the door should be open to every serious investor who is stuck in a rut and not just those with connections.

At an event organized by the Gastronomos food magazine yesterday I heard a successful businessman from Kalamata say something so simple and yet so wise: It is not incentives we need in Greece as much as the abolition of counterincentives.

So where are the relevant initiatives to whittle down the slew of laws and permits concerning investments? How is the government handling the incredibly time-consuming roles of the Council of State and the Central Archaeological Council regarding large investments? So far, the government has done nothing to facilitate increasing investment and it is ridiculous to focus on whether it takes one or 10 days for a company to be established.

Most politicians know little about business because they have rarely worked anywhere but in political office. Some, in critical posts as well, are surrounded by activists/consultants who are openly opposed to construction, fish farming, industry and other tangibly productive forms of activity. Of course, Greek entrepreneurs are desperate, and I don’t mean those who got rich by milking the state or by nepotism, but the large and healthy chunk of the business community who see nothing but closed doors while other doors are opened wide to a small number of investors who somehow and inexplicably seem to be endowed with a magical pass.

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Alexis Papachelas is the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”. He is the creator and principal presenter of the weekly news program “The New Files” aired in Greece for 10 consecutive seasons. He has been awarded a number of distinctions both on his broadcast as well as his print contributions.  He studied History, International Relations and Journalism at Bard College and Columbia University in the United States.

Papachelas is the author of the books “The Rape of Greek Democracy” (1997) and “File November 17” (2002).

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