Greece eyeing its islands for much-needed cash
Greece is looking for islands of opportunity amid a sea of debt, as the troubled country’s leader mulls the profitability of its uninhabited land parcels.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told France’s Le Monde that some Greek islands may have commercial use "as long as this doesn’t pose problems for national security," openly pondering investment opportunities.
Samaras argued that investment is crucial to reviving the Greek economy, adding that railways and a portion of the Attica coast may also be attractive to private patrons.
"This is not, in any way, about selling them off for cheap, but about transforming unused terrain into capital that could generate revenue, at a fair price," Samaras said in the Thursday interview.
The president did not elaborate or say the government would sell the islands altogether.
The idea comes on the heels of Greece’s admission that it needs more time to implement the tough financial reforms and spending cuts the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund have demanded in return for bailout help.
"Let me be very clear: we are not asking for extra money," Samaras told the German daily Bild. "All we want is a little air to breathe to get the economy going and increase state income," he said.
"More time does not automatically mean more money."
Greece's Finance Ministry said the country's total central government debt stood at €303.5 billion ($370 billion Cdn) at the end of July 2012, up from €280.2 billion at the end of the first three months of this year.
The Mediterranean country has been struggling with a severe financial crisis since late 2009, and is dependent on international rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund and other European countries that use the euro.
With files from the Associated Press