In the era of excessive primary budget surpluses, key state sectors such as healthcare, education, security and justice are underfinanced by the Public Investments Program, because slashing essential spending is one of the ways in which excessive surpluses are created, to be distributed as handouts.
According to Public Investments Program data that has been analyzed by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), in 2015 and 2016 the state’s investments in the fire service, courts and prisons were zero, while spending on the police force came to just 3 million euros in the same period.
These figures have come to light after the tragic eastern Attica wildfire in late July, along with a rise in crime and huge delays in court hearings around the country.
At the same time public investment in the sectors of healthcare and education is particularly low, while the country is investing heavily in transport: The data show that Greece spends almost half (48.5 percent) of its public investment budget on transport infrastructure (roads, tunnels, bridges etc), making it the European Union champion in proportional terms, as the bloc average is 24.4 percent in this category.
Athens spends just 2.5 percent of its Public Investments Program funding on education, compared with an EU average of 10.4 percent, just 1.4 percent on healthcare, against the EU’s 7.9 percent, and 1.3 percent on social protection, against a bloc average of 2.3 percent.
SEV’s weekly economic bulletin notes that “there are remarkable delays in our country that highlight the state’s general weakness in sustaining the country’s overall growth, mainly through investing in the institutional and environmental shielding of society (public order and security, environment, recreation-culture, religion, housing and public benefit infrastructure) and through human capital investments (education, healthcare, social protection, research and development, and basic research).”