The prime minister, in a videotaped message to the Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum in New York City, called upon 1,000 participating American businessmen to invest in Greece, which he characterised as the “land of opportunity” that opens its doors to exceptionally profitable investments.
The call was actually resounding and welcome, if one considers what he and his party stood for just two or three years ago.
Better late than never, one might say. Yet, his message would have had even greater value if it were accompanied by specific actions that would confirm his firm will and disposition to facilitate investments. It would have been well also if it were accompanied by clear targets that proved that his government has surpassed its previous fixations and is working feverishly for investment efforts to bear results.
Just last Sunday, To Vima presented a series of “ghost” investments, which have remained incomplete for years because the government and state mechanisms raise all sorts of obstacles, bureaucratic and otherwise.
Unfortunately, the contrary signals are many more, and they undermine the prime minister’s call.
One must admit that Greece does not have the best investment reputation. The political and public administration environment is almost hostile to investment, especially foreign.
The bureaucracy looms, the judicial system delays, trade unions stand opposed, local officials are usually suspicious, and the tax regime is heavy and unbearable and does not permit optimism.
For a wave of investment to rise in the country, it is not enough to have a drop in prices, or cheap land and labour.
Reforms are required in the entire gamut of public administration , as is the need to facilitate investment in all possible ways, and of course one needs a stable environment that is sufficient to transcend the climate of suspicion in the international investment community.
It would be well if a simple call from the prime minister were enough, but that is not the case.
Let no one deceive themselves. Greece and its policies must change radically if we truly want to become an attractive zone of true opportunity.
With ministers that cuss and party cadres who consider profit a sin, we cannot hope either to attract capital or to achieve a flowering of investment.
Wishes do not take root in dry ground, nor do calls from infertile and hostile zones.