Greece gives 29 million euros for formula one racetrack
Debt-ridden Greece is to spend 28.9 million euros ($37.3 million) on a Formula One racetrack despite the nation's economic crisis, the development ministry said Wednesday.
The funds, which will subsidise about one-third of the 94-million-euro project, were released as part of a government effort to speed up investments that it considers top priorities but that have been delayed by bureaucratic procedures.
The government gave the project the green light in May, saying the racetrack would boost tourism and create jobs, in a country where severe austerity measures and a crippling recession now in its fifth year have driven the unemployment rate over 20 percent.
The racetrack, to be built by Greek construction group Avtokinitodromio Patras will host Formula One races -- pending approval from the sport's governing body -- as well as motorcycle and go-kart races.
The town of Fares in the northwest of the Peloponnese peninsula will host the track, which will be built over the next three years.
Greece's leaders have been debating for years whether to build a Formula One racetrack but have faced resistance from residents and environmentalists.
The country spent 8.95 billion euros to host the 2004 Athens Olympics, including 7.2 billion euros to build and outfit venues, according to opposition party Syriza. As the country has slid into financial catastrophe, the government has come under fire for that tab.
The development ministry also announced Wednesday the release of credit lines of 29.25 million euros to help fund construction of a solar panel factory in the northeast and 15 million euros to renovate the Elounda Bay luxury hotel on the island of Crete.