MINISTER OF ECONOMY AND INVESTMENTS
Greece 2022 I Economy I Leader
_BIOGRAPHY He graduated from the Faculty of History & Archaeology at the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens. Elected MP in Athens B region in the elections of 2007 and 2009 with the LAOS political party, he joined n 2012 the New Democracy political party and Elected with New Democracy in Athens B in 2012 and 2015. In 2016, he was appointed one of the two Vice-Presidents of the New Democracy Party.
“WE SIMPLIFIED REGULATION AND WE MADE SURE THAT THE VARIOUS COGS IN THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ECOSYSTEM COOPERATED IN A MORE CONSTRUCTIVE WAY.”
GREECE’S GDP HAS GROWN 8.3% IN 2021 SHOWING A GREAT RECOVERY AND COVERING ALMOST ALL LOSSES IN 2020. WHAT ARE THE GOVERNMENT’S OBJECTIVES FOR 2022/23?
The Greek economy, in the midst of an adverse environment, recovered strongly in 2021 covering almost all the losses of 2020. The Greek economy grew by 8.3% in 2021 with the country's Gross Domestic Product rising to 181 billion euros from 167.1 billion in 2020. On annual basis, GDP growth reflected an 8.8%increase in final consumption spending (household spending up 9.7% while general government spending eased 0.8%), private investments (gross fixed capital investments) jumped 24.1%, exports of goods and services rose 24.1% (goods up 4.1%, services up 63.2%) and imports rose 33.2% (goods up 29.8% and services up 43.4%).
On a quarterly basis, GDP growth reflected an 1.9% increase in final consumption spending (household up 2% and government down 2.3%), private investments rose 1.8%, exports of goods and services rose 7.3% and imports were up 5.8%. But I have to underline that is clouded by the new international environment of high uncertainty and insecurity that eats up the citizens' disposable income and significantly burdens households. Looking towards the future citizens and the state are called upon to continue to work with full sense of the above challenges in order for the present strong recovery to pass the baton to a high, sustainable and socially equitable growth in the interests of all and primarily the younger generation.
ONE OF YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES HAS BEEN TO INCREASE THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF THE GREEK MARKET. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE AND UPCOMING INITIATIVES?
From the moment we came into power, it was our government’s firm belief that we ought to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greece. We were emerging from a very deep and very painful crisis that also had, as a result – as probably a positive side effect – the changing of attitudes amongst younger Greeks, the belief that entrepreneurship is an appropriate way for young Greeks to pursue. And what we tried to do, very simply, was to liberate all these entrepreneurial forces within the Greek society because we always took note of the fact that Greek entrepreneurs did particularly well outside Greece, but for some reason they were not doing particularly well in Greece.
“THE GREECE 2.0 PLAN WILL LEAD THE COUNTRY TOWARDS
A MORE COMPETITIVE AND GREEN PRODUCTIVE MODEL,
A MORE EFFICIENT AND DIGITIZED STATE WITH LESS
BUREAUCRACY AND A GROWTH-FRIENDLY TAX SYSTEM.”
So we did obvious things. Strengthening the financing arm of the state. We lowered taxes, significantly, taxes on capital, taxes on dividends, taxes on labor. We simplified regulation and we made sure that the various cogs in the entrepreneurial ecosystem cooperated in a more constructive way. And what is very interesting is that we have our first very impressive success stories.
ONE OF YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES HAS BEEN TO IMPLEMENT NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND INCREASE EFFICIENCY WITH A SMOOTH AND TRANSPARENT FRAMEWORK. HAVE YOU ACHIEVED THESE OBJECTIVES?
Our government’s motto is that we are changing the state using technology as a tool, not an end in itself. A non-partisan state views all citizens in the same way but has an obligation, however, to turn its attention on those with the greatest need. The weakest are the victims of bureaucracy and lack of transparency. We will continue with the same fervor in the same direction as Kyriakos Mitsotakis emphasized. The effort to modernize the state does not stop, in order to turn into action the message that service is truly social policy.
More than 200 electronic services offered by EFKA social insurance fund, the recently renamed Public Employment Service (former OAED) and the Organization for Welfare Benefits and Social Solidarity (OPEKA), had in the last five years completed 260 million e-transactions, transforming the service offered to citizens. We are building relations of trust. All in all, Greece’s recovery and resilience plan supports the digital transition with investments and reforms in the digitalization of public administration and private sector companies, in connectivity, and in digital skills.
It will invest €160 million for the development of 5G networks, €1.3 billion in the digital transformation of the public sector and another €375 million for the digitalization of businesses, promoting the integration of digital technologies in SMEs. Furthermore, the plan will invest more than €500 million to promote the digital transformation of the education and health system, while nearly €750 million will be invested in digital upskilling.
PRIME MINISTER MITSOTAKIS IS CONFIDENT THAT GREECE WILL ACHIEVE INVESTMENT GRADE IN 2023. WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS EXPECTED FROM THE GOVERNMENT?
Greece is now one breath away from the coveted investment grade after Standard & Poor’s upgraded Greece’s credit rating one notch on April 23rd. So we are pretty confident that this is a feasible target for our country despite current economic challenges. Investment Grade Status will be a seal of credibility that will upgrade the investment and growth prospects of our country.
THE WORLD HAS FACED UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGES WITH THE COVID CRISIS AND NOW WITH THE WAR IN UKRAINE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE MAIN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE COUNTRY TODAY?
Greece has numerous unicorns already, as our Prime Minister said, and these are success stories which will further inspire new entrepreneurs to pursue a similar path. I am very confident that this entrepreneurial ecosystem is really going to take off. Our goal is that at some point in the not-so-distant future, technology should contribute 10% of Greek GDP. And this is perfectly doable. Investors believe in this Greek growth story. And at the end of the day, our main goal was always to foster sustainable growth. Sustainable growth needs to be led and needs to be driven through private investment. And in spite of all the difficulties that we had to deal with, including the most recent war in Ukraine, we remain committed to the goal of creating sustainable growth in Greece in those sectors where we can be competitive.
If you look at sectors such as big data, such as clean tech, such as fintech, lots of very interesting things are happening and foreign investors are taking notice of what is happening in Greece. And Greek companies are beginning to attract significant capital. And if you look at the big trends, one of them, is going to be the consideration of supply chains and sort of the concept of strategic autonomy. And this whole idea of reshoring Greece is strategically positioned to take advantage of these trends.
Also many European companies will be looking to strengthen their supply chains closer to home. I strongly advise you to look at new sectors where we can add value. Look at the renewable sector. We want to contribute more to the value chain of renewables.
Can we imagine a cluster of offshore wind infrastructure, for example, in Greece, rather in other countries? But at the end of the day, what I do want to point out for those of you who are thinking of investing in Greece, this is not just about a stable and reform-oriented government. This is not just about a country that has natural comparative advantages such as the sun or the wind. It’s also about a country that has tremendous human capital.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE MAIN INCENTIVES AND BUSINESS FACILITATION EFFORTS BEING IMPLEMENTED BY THE GOVERNMENT TOWARDS THE GREECE 2.0 INITIATIVE?
The «Greece 2.0» plan will lead the country towards a more competitive and green productive model, a more efficient and digitized state with less bureaucracy and a growth-friendly tax system. It is a plan that essentially changes the model of the Greek economy, making it competitive and outward-looking. It is a unique opportunity, in the post pandemic era, to transform our industrial model, attract foreign investment and mend public finances.
The implementation of Greece 2.0 will see the injection of substantial amounts of capital into e-governance and the digitization of the public sector. Under the plan, 57% of the funding will be used for green transition and digital transformation projects.
Among the measures are the creation of 5G infrastructure, improving the connection of Greek islands to the mainland electricity grid, digitizing tax services and retraining or “upskilling” the workforce. The plan also comes with an ambitious target of creating 180,000 jobs by 2026. This is both a historic opportunity and a unique challenge. Now is the best time to make business together and deliver success. Grasp this historic opportunity to invest in Greece as the first ones will be rewarded with the biggest profits.