The Greek Parliament is currently drafting a new investment law. A brief analysis of some main topics is following.
In a first place, the draft expands the scope of the existing investment laws (Law 3894/2010, Law 3299/2004 and Law 3908/2011) so as to include more investment projects and activities. Therefore, it brings only partial amendments and is not an innovative framework. However, it also includes detailed provision for the creation of a full legislative framework for the operation of airports on water surfaces as a boost of tourism, transport and regional growth.
In a second place, the draft law targets to bring bureaucracy of Greek public services to an end, which is considered as a significant barrier to investments. The various licenses that were required for the materialization of a strategic investment are now replaced by a ‘multi-license’, which accelerates the execution of the project, as it can commence even without all the necessary documentation as long as the investor ‘self-assesses’ that the project fulfils the legal requirements. At the same time, the establishment of the Directorate General of Strategic and Private Investments, and especially the DG of Licenses, as a ‘one stop service’ shall result in a more efficient coordination of procedures and policies.
In a third place, the draft law pursues to provide investment incentives, facilitating investors’ liquidity and granting multiple investment aids. Some indicative amendments in this respect are the following:
An investor may obtain a payment advance up to 100% of the approved amount of subsidy (50% so far), provided that he provides an equivalent letter of guarantee increased by 10%. Except for this, the investor does not have to provide a letter of guarantee, as it was required under the Process of the Strategic Investments. Furthermore, for the purpose of enhancing the flexibility of financing for small and medium enterprises, investments of less than 50 million Euros can be granted with one or more of the provided types of aid (tax reliefs, subsidies etc), whereas investments of more than €50 million can be granted only with tax relief for the investment amount exceeding €50 million. Besides, the front-loaded use of tax reliefs is strengthened whereas investors can cover their own contribution to the investment by making use of highly liquidable assets.
For the purposes of the immediate termination of multiple audits and the disbursement of outstanding installments, investors are entitled to request for interim and final audits to be carried out by certified bodies of the private sector, such as banks or audit firms. It is further provided that the aid application can be submitted at any time while aid approval decisions for the investment plans with a total subsidised cost in excess of €50 million shall be subject to ratification by law. This last requirement is being introduced for transparency reasons, but it is criticised that may impede the object for acceleration of procedures.
It remains to be seen to what extent the final document will include these provisions.