ATHENS – Reforms designed to make it easier to do business in Greece are barely working, as bureaucracy, corruption and red tape are still hindering progress.
Despite promises to speed the process of opening and doing business, the government has lagged so much the country has improved only from 65th to 61st in the latest Doing Business survey among 189 countries.
Would-be entrepreneurs and those trying to open a business frequently complain about how many bribes they have to pay to get licenses and other documents approved and little has been done about it.
Greece had originally ranked 72nd last year, but the revision of the methodology employed brought it up to 65th to make it look better. Singapore remains on top.
It can years – or decades – to get necessary approvals and documents in Greece’s labyrinth of competing and duplicating services in Greek public offices which have a notorious reputation for inefficiency and laziness.
Greece has climbed 48 spots since the 2010 report, according to the Doing Business 2015 chart, but it still has a long way to go in terms of making entrepreneurship easier as the country ranks near the bottom among European Union member states.
A key role in improving Greece’s position was played by the reduction in bureaucratic requirements and in the cost of starting a business, mainly thanks to the introduction of the One-Stop Shop service, the drop in starting capital requirements and the introduction of private capital companies, known as one-euro companies.
The biggest rise for Greece was in the category of registering a real estate property, in which it climbed 54 spots, from 170th to 116th, thanks to the reduction in property transfer costs. But critics have complained that it’s still easy in Greece for people to steal other people’s property with the help of corrupt lawyers and bankers and lack of unified land registry.