The building of the State Lottery OPAP, which is also included in the privatization list
Konstantinos Mitropoulos, Executive Director of the Privatization Agency, stressed in an interview he gave for "Imerisia" that privatization is a lever for development, not a clearance sale of state assets. The Director of the Privatization Agency acknowledged however that it is very difficult to achieve the target revenue of 3 billion euro in 2012, set out in the memorandum.
If on Monday the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance called you and asked you: "What privatizations has the Agency carried out? What have you done so far? What actions will you take next?" What would you answer?
The Agency for privatization of state property manages today 28 significant in their size and scope of privatization deals. The Agency has been working for 10 months, and during this period it has done a considerable amount of legal and technical work on the preparation of public assets for their privatization. In addition to this, by the end of 2011 four privatizations had been carried out bringing a total revenue 1.8 billion euro, out of which 1.56 billion euro in cash. For a long time Greece had no government, and the uncertainty about the prospects of our economy reached record levels (to remind you of the PSI, the second contract for a loan, the second election, etc.).
In spite of this, the Privatization Agency prepared and submitted to the markets 6 more privatization deals, which could cover almost 50% of our annual objectives, ie they could bring about 1.3 billion euro.
Furthermore, we have made a considerable effort to promote privatization to the international investor community, and as a result of that we already have 17 investors interested in the privatization of the gas company DEPA, 9 in the Greek airport, 3 in the state lotteries and 3 in ΙΒC ...
Explain to me how you will reach the target of 3 billion euro set for 2012?
Today it is very difficult to achieve this goal. There is great uncertainty both on the international markets in Europe and in Greece. Over the whole long election period, we have prepared documents for 9 privatizations which could bring the Greek state 2.5 billion euro, as well as additional new investment in the real economy. Once the climate of stability in Greece is restored we will move forward with another 13 privatizations.
Now, however, when SYRIZA is the main opposition party, any initiative of the Agency will be perceived as a "clearance sale of the national treasures" and will cause violent resistance ...
I am afraid that there is a constantly nurtured myth. The programme for utilization of state property is not a clearance sale. Please note that 90% of the original goal of 50 billion euro, which for the period until December 2015 was reduced to 19 billion euro, relates to the provision of land and infrastructure for concessions. We do not sell the land and we do not sell the infrastructure. Investors are invited to invest their capital in order to cooperate with the Greek state and together to carry out the greatest economic reform. The true value of the privatization programme is not in the revenue, but in the reforming. It is generated through the investments, which investors must make to develop the land or infrastructure.
You are talking about 150,000 new jobs, and the left opposition in the country is speaking about a total sale of state assets and massive layoffs. Where is the truth?
Look, where there is investment, there are jobs. I do not agree with the view that the Greeks have not grasped the need and mainly the benefit of the privatization programme. A recent survey of MRB showed that 81% of the population believes that the privatization programme will help the development of the country and 74% believes that private entrepreneurs will better manage the state assets. Eight out of ten Greeks were certain that privatization would bring in investment and create new jobs.
So my conclusion is that the reactions that you point out, refer to circles of people and situations where for a long time there have been clientelistic relationships, that do not want a change of the status quo.
Therefore what would be the first request, which you will represent to the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, in connection with the privatization programme, which he personally committed to since the first day of his election?
Fortunately or unfortunately, the Privatization Agency is currently the only body to attract direct foreign investment. The implementation of the programme for utilization of state property will bring an additional investment of over 25 billion euro by 2020, which in turn will increase the GDP by three percentage points per year and will create 150,000 new jobs.
It is important to send a clear message abroad, but also in the country that today in Greece there is continuous political support and continuous facilitation of the privatization programme on the part of the government. As an example I will mention that in order to complete the 6 privatizations which have already started, but also the other 22 which we are preparing, 72 specific legal and technical activities must be completed in a very short time by the Greek state as well as legislative and administrative initiatives needed to implement the programme.