Greece Plans Road, Rail, Airport Projects to Boost Growth

The Greek government presented 10 priorities for boosting growth including the expansion of road and rail networks, the creation of a Greek investment fund and setting up special economic zones.

Our goal “is to pull Greece out of its current crisis and to rebuild the country’s confidence and optimism,” Development Minister Konstantinos Hatzidakis said today, according to a transcript of the comments e-mailed from his ministry in Athens. These priorities are “specific, achievable and measurable.”

Greece’s recession, now in its fifth year, has been exacerbated by austerity measures imposed to trim a budget deficit that was more than five times the euro-area limit in 2009. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s coalition government is negotiating an 11.5 billion-euro ($14.4 billion) package of budget cuts for 2013 and 2014 needed to keep rescue loan funds from the euro area and the International Monetary Fund flowing.

The government is negotiating the creation of a Greek investment fund, supported by European Union money, and the conclusions of a working group including the French Finance Ministry and the European Investment Fund should be known by Sept. 30, Hatzidakis said.

The establishment of special economic zones with tax incentives will help to boost investment, jobs and exports and Greece will soon begin feasibility studies for these zones for submission to the European Commission, he said.

Infrastructure projects include the extension of the Athens metro, the completion of the capital’s suburban rail network, highway projects, a metro line in the second-largest city of Thessaloniki, upgrades to three regional ports and building a new airport on the island of Crete, Hatzidakis said.

Public-private partnerships will be used to develop and implement a national broadband strategy as well as for projects worth around 1 billion euros including waste management, he said.

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