ATHENS – With Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’ tax avalanche scaring off potential investors, the major opposition New Democracy’s promise to attract foreign business could turn that around.
Former economy and finance minister Petros Doukas – who said there is more investment going on than appears – said the prospects, however, would be better under New Democracy if Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis becomes Prime Minister.
Speaking at the 2nd IMN Annual Investors’ Conference on Greek and Cypriot nonperforming loans, Doukas – Chairman of the financial firm Capital Partners – said that, Polls show a victory for New Democracy in the upcoming election this year, so, with a pro-business government in power, Greece will be a very good place to invest in, including in nonperforming loans,” Kathimerini said.
That was in reference to a mountain of bad loans making up 40 percent of the portfolio of the country’s four biggest banks who Tsipras allowed to sell them off to vulture collectors hounding Greeks who can’t pay because of harsh austerity measures including those implemented by SYRIZA.
Doukas also said that, “There is quite a big set of investments going on across Greece, from Evros to Crete, that we have not advertised. It is in agribusiness, in plastics, in pharmaceuticals and many other sectors,” without saying why it wasn’t advertised.
While Tsipras raised the corporate tax to 29 percent as one of the reforms ordered by the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM), some businesses which didn’t join the thousands who left during a more than 8 ½-year-long economic crisis are putting more into their operations.
The German supermarket chain Lidl, 20 years in Greece, said it will invest another 120 million euros ($135.62 million) in the next year and hire another 500 workers to the more than 5,000 it employs.
The Chinese company COSCO that runs the port of Piraeus has hired more than 1,000 worker and turned it from a dire place into one of the 10 container ports in Europe, said Andreas Yannopoulos, founder of Public Affairs & Networks and the InvestGR Forum.
Writing in the paper, he said that a Metron Analysis survey conducted for the 1st InvestGR Forum 2018 showed that 90 percent of multinationals already operating in Greece have invested even more in the country in the last five or more years.
That, however, made the just about the only companies doing so during a period when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continued to fall but as Tsipras said he’s bringing a recovery with the Aug. 20, 2018 end of three bailouts of 326 billion euros ($368.44 billion).
Foreign businesses are still shying away.
The giant US firm BlackRock pulled out of a major mall plan in an Athens neighborhood because of government delays, giving up after 10 years of trying and hard-core elements in SYRIZA are blocking a gold mine in northern Greece, development of the $8 billion former Hellenikon International Airport site and a major tourist project on the island of Corfu.
It was costly, but Greece returned to the markets Jan. 29 for the first time since the end of the bailouts, getting 2.5 billion euros ($2.86 billion) in a five-year bond auction.
The bond auction resulted in a yield of 3.6 percent on the bonds and a coupon below 3.5 percent, more than three times higher the interest on the rescue packages, with strong interest from investors looking to make profits off the higher rates.