Hatzidakis: No previous opportunities and funds for digital modernisation

The four pillars of the government plan for the country, including the digital modernisation of the state, the support of businesses for the implementation of corresponding programmes, the encouragement of innovation and mergers and the training of human resources presented tonight by the Minister of National Economy and Finance, . Speaking to Thessaloniki in an event entitled “Navigating Business in the Digital Era” organized by Grant Thornton under the auspices of the Association of Industries of Greece, Mr. Hatzidakis stressed that more efforts have been made than ever on digital transformation, bringing our country often to a better position than other more advanced countries. In particular, government actions include the following: Firstly, the upgrading of the country’s digital infrastructure with investments in telecommunications networks (networks 5G, fibre optics), the digital actions to combat the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Digital Governance (GOV.gr and digital assistant mAIGov.gr), which save time, suffering and money to citizens and businesses and the respective actions of the Ministry of Finance and AADE. Like the universal application of myDATA, the extension of electronic invoices (from 2025 all invoices will be electronic), myADEapp, the AADE chatbot, the regulation contained in the draft Law on the Reformation of the Tax Procedure under which the communication of AADE with taxpayers will now only be done digitally and the interconnection of POS with cash machines. “Until recently people said nothing would happen. The reality is that the vast majority of businesses have been interconnected or will be interconnected by the end of April by appointment. At the end of April this reform is closed,” the minister said. Secondly, the use of European investment resources for the digital upgrading of businesses themselves, with actions as Mr Hatzidakis said (answering those who claim that “the funds go to a few”) They are directed mainly or exclusively at small and medium-sized enterprises. He stressed that the funds available are more than ever. According to the figures: -In the Recovery Fund digital transformation of the public and private sectors is the second most important pillar after ‘green’ investments, with 69 budget projects of EUR 2.4 billion. Fund financing actions are expected to benefit 100,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. The minister however noted a lack of interest from large companies in the loan arm of digital transformation programs. IN THE NSRF 2021-2027 addressed exclusively to IMIs, the initial budget is close to ECU 1 billion. ‘For the current programmes for digital transformation, applications have been made by over 2,800 small and medium-sized enterprises corresponding to a budget of EUR 120 million! Of these, over 1,700 applications for a total budget of almost 55m euros have already been approved,” the minister said. “It’s money that, among other things, will help small and medium-sized enterprises in their digital modernisation”. Thirdly, actions to strengthen business innovation, including startups that have been developing in recent years. Actions include strengthening tax incentives for research and development expenditure by means of a bill to be submitted within 2024, following a dialogue with the actors involved and incentives for business mergers. “It is a priority issue in the search for the new production model,” said Mr. Hatzidakis. Fourthly, the upgrading of the workforce to meet the requirements of the new digital age, comprising two axes: On the one hand, training, with programs implemented in cooperation with giants such as Amazon, Google, Cisco and Microsoft, with the aim of training to be essential to the employee and also with certification of the programs. On the other hand, the effort to return to the country part of the labour force that went abroad during the economic crisis, “because a very large proportion of these people returning to Greece are people with high skills.” Already, as the minister said, according to Eurostat of about 600 thousand Greeks who left abroad in 2010-2021, about 350 thousand have returned. Mr. Hatzidakis also noted that the government’s overall effort is based on two pillars: Firstly, budgetary stability regardless of EU rules. “We have not spent, spent and spent more than we have, because we have the legacy of high debt and are judged by the market, investors and rating houses,” he said. Secondly, the pro-investment and pro-business policy. “Many steps have been taken, he said, particularly in investments and exports but others must be done in the direction of changing the production model which must be based on productivity, competitiveness and extroversion.”