According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Greek government is planning to sell some islands and other luxury properties to reduce the country’s debt. The only problem is that the government does not know the islands’ owners. The majority of Greek islands belong to private hands and their price is estimated between 3 to 150 million Euros, even if the government does not own them. The administration benefits from taxes and development while plenty of job opportunities are created. Unfortunately the Greek bureaucracy does not help selling become reality. No sales have been taken place since Papandreou first came up with this idea. There are lots of private islands; Scorpios the famous island of Aristotle Onassis, Spetsopoula island owned by the Niarchos family, Koronida, along with others. The only problem is that the state , local, military and religious regulations, laws and edicts have made it impossible for the islands to be sold because no one can agree on who owns what.
But Greece is not the only country in history needing to sell some of its property to reduce its debt. Between 1993 and 1995 , 20,000 of Russia’s 27,000 enterprises were sold for about 10 percent of their value to raise capital.
The director of the Greek real estate firm NAI Global Mike Vassiliiou says that offering islands may lure all sorts of buyers who could end up making badly needed investments in Greece: ”The problem is that so far Greek government refuses to create offerings that attract entrepreneurs and investors. If you come in with €200 million to invest, the government claims it will help you cut through the bureaucracy. A penny less and you’re on your own in the labyrinth.”, Vasiliou says.
Confusion over land value is apparently only one of the challenges buyers and sellers face when attempting an island transaction. “Eight ministries, from Culture to Defense, are involved in the initial purchase of a Greek island,” Samaropoulou says as twilight settles over Holy Ghost. “Then, once you have the eight ministries signed on, and depending on where the island is and its legal status, you go back to the Finance Ministry to see if they want to buy it at the tax-office price.”
All non EU citizens must undergo a further check by the Defense Ministry to ensure they don’t pose a military threat to Greece in the event of a Turkish invasion. “The most traumatic transaction in Greece is buying an island,” Samaropoulou says. “You’re looking at around 2,500 official licenses and permits to conclude a sale. My 60 serious foreign clients interested in buying islands find this amazing and unbelievable.