Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Greek PM pledges focus on innovation

17 Apr 2018, 00:01 ( 11 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. File Photo Xinhua.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reiterated Greece's focus on innovation as a fundamental tool to exit the eight- year debt crisis and boost growth, when addressing an economic forum here on Monday.

   The Greek leader made the remark as the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the National Bank of Greece (NBG) signed three loan guarantee agreements worth 640 million euros (792 million U.S. dollars) to improve access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greece.

   "Greece is standing on her feet again and is trying to change course. The country has a strategic planning, wants to invest in young people, in scientists, in highly-qualified persons. We want to change the production model, we want to invest in innovation," the Greek leader said in a speech at the event.

   "Innovation and human capital are two building blocks we must use to build a different, better future," he added, calling on investors to back up young entrepreneurs with modern ideas.

   "This is the time to take a risk. If not now, when Greece is recovering after eight years of a crisis which changed so much, which hit hard the economy and society, if not now when we stand on our feet again, when?" the Greek Premier asked when urging fund managers to invest more in innovative companies, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

   Monday's forum in Athens marked the debut of EquiFund, a new investment platform which brings together national, European and private funds to support Greek companies by providing loans at favorable terms.

   Established in December 2016 by the EIF and the Greek state, Equifund supports nine fund managers who invest in Greek enterprises, as part of the Juncker plan and efforts to support Greek economic recovery.

   From very small businesses and start-ups, to mid- sized enterprises, more than 5,000 companies will benefit from the new major project sealed on Monday over the next three years, EU migration, home affairs and citizenship commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said, according to an e-mailed press statement.

   Avramopoulos co-signed the three agreements with EIF chief executive Pier Luigi Gilibert and the CEO of NBG, Leonidas Fragkiadakis.

   The Juncker Plan, Europe's ambitious investment program launched in 2014, aims at unlocking public and private investments in the "real economy" across Europe to boost entrepreneurship and create job positions and growth.

   Under the plan, these goals can be achieved by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.