In a reflection of the bureaucracy that still plagues business initiatives, Deputy Development Minister Nikos Papathanasis said Wednesday that the approval of some 1,500 investment projects is still pending, while another 2,000 have been completed but not audited.
Tellingly, the fact that the pending approval and audit of a total of 3,500 investment projects are at the regional level, demonstrate, if nothing else, the structural shortcomings of local authorities, with both Papathanasis and Minister Adonis Georgiadis citing understaffing problems.
Both noted that the government’s new legislative initiative aims to reduce the process of sorting through applications to 60 days, so that a total of about 100 days are required for the submission of an investment plan. The process can currently take up to 2.5 years.
The new development law, which seeks to reduce if not eliminate these delays, is expected to be submitted to Parliament in mid-December, and voted through in early 2022.
Accordingly, it stipulates that all investment plans with a budget of more than a million euros, regardless of the region in which the investment is to be made, be submitted to the ministry’s central services.
Only investment plans of less than a million euros will be submitted to regional authorities.
Moreover, all investment plans over 700,000 euros will be audited by a statutory auditor.
In cases where investors wish to be audited by a statutory auditor for smaller investment projects, they will have the right to have this done.
The effort to speed up procedures will also be boosted with the operation of a new information system for the submission of applications.
At the same time, in the effort to expedite the evaluation process, the investment plans will be accompanied by a certification report of the Economic Chamber of Greece.
The chamber will also be involved in the process of auditing investment plans under 700,000 euros.
Among a long list of initiatives introduced by the new law, it is noted that the investment plans of large and medium-sized enterprises will only be afforded the incentive of tax exemptions.
The investment plans of small enterprises, however, will receive funding, while projects in delignification areas will receive up to 70% of the investment cost.