Tsipras urges business to invest in Greece

Posted on September 10, 2016

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras©EPA

Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s leftwing prime minister, has made an unexpected appeal to private investors to help revive the struggling economy, promising “it will be mutually beneficial both for you and for our country.”

In a speech outlining the Syriza government’s economic priorities, Mr Tsipras for the first time appeared to set aside his party’s entrenched suspicion of private enterprise which has delayed the completion of several large infrastructure deals that were agreed by the previous conservative administration.

    “I am addressing a call to domestic and international investors to exploit the business opportunities . . . we offer to healthy enterprises and invest without hesitation in the Greek economy,” Mr Tsipras said.

    Speaking at the opening on Saturday evening of an annual trade fair in the northern city of Thessaloniki, the premier insisted that Greece “was turning the corner” and would see the economy grow by 2.7 per cent in 2017.

    However, some in the audience were sceptical that the country could make a strong recovery as long as capital controls remain in place, Greek banks are still starved of liquidity and the country’s creditors complain of missed deadlines for implementing economic reforms.

    “The obstacles to a turnround were airbrushed out of the prime minister’s speech,” said a northern Greek manufacturer who declined to give his name. ”Where will we find the money to invest when the banks can’t increase lending and the effective tax rate on profitable businesses has reached 50 per cent?”

    Tsipras seeks influence for Mediterranean states

    epa05532024 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (R) attend a joint press conference at the Zappeion Mansion in Athens, Greece, 09 September 2016. Alexis Tsipras called a Mediterranean EU member-states leaders' meeting in Athens for dealing with joint challenges relating to migration, security and the economy, ahead of the EU's Informal Meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government in the Slovakian capital Bratislava on 16 September. EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

    Greek PM wants southern nations to have more say in EU policy

    Another Thessaloniki businessman said the premier’s plea for investment was unlikely to produce results until bailout monitors from the EU and IMF completed a second progress review of structural reforms due to be implemented in the coming months.

    Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the euro area finance ministers’ group, warned on Friday that the measures were lagging behind schedule, adding that what was at stake was “trust from the outside world in Greece and the Greek economy.”

    Foreign investors have given Greece a wide berth since the Syriza government in January froze a €1bn gold mining investment by Canada’s Eldorado Gold, claiming the company had violated environmental regulations even though Greece’s highest courts had rejected the claims.

    Fraport of Germany last year signed a €1.2bn concession deal to operate 14 regional Greek airports that handle the bulk of the country’s tourist traffic. But the company has so far been unable to take over management of the airports because of resistance by civil aviation employees, backed by the hard-left transport minister Christos Spirtzis.

    Mr Tsipras’s visit to Thessaloniki, where the unemployment rate exceeds 25 per cent, prompted strong reaction from local trade unionists.

    Thousands of people protesting against fresh pension cuts and increases in VAT and property taxes threw firecrackers and scuffled with police in a central square as the premier toured the city.

    Greek television stations were unable to broadcast Mr Tsipras’s speech because of a 24-hour strike by journalists and technical staff protesting against an expected 2,000 job losses by the end of this year. Four nationwide private stations are due to shut down after their owners failed to win broadcasting licences in an auction staged by the government.

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