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On Europe, Tsipras, archaeology, drachma

How to boost the Greek economy

I recommend that Greece should be designated a tax-free zone for five years for all investors, companies from anywhere in the world, who will establish businesses in Greece and so create jobs. It's the private sector worldwide that can create jobs and revive the Greek economy.

Frank Huber
 

Tsipras -- The Pied Piper

The Irish Times has called Mr Tsipras 'The Pied Piper of Hellas'. For the past 20 years, since a young teenager, Mr Tsipras has been involved in just about every strike, sit-in and demonstration held against our education system. This is the contribution to Greek society. Considering not one of our universities can be counted in the world's top one hundred, and that our children are not only still enrolled in private evening schools for foreign languages, now they are enrolled for standard subjects. Every year the education system deteriorates. If this is an example of the organisational skills and the management of Mr Tsipras, then the newspaper is right, if we follow his lead like the children of Hamlin, we will be lost forever.

Ann Baker
 

Tsipras and the memorandum

What Mr Tsipras does not realize is that if he wins the elections on June 17th, which is not likely to happen and I believe he knows that, he will be in big trouble. I believe since he knows that there is no way to win the elections, he will avoid that trouble, however he is trying to gain as many seats as possible in order to have a strong presence in the parliament.

If the unlikely scenario of his winning the elections happens, what will Mr Tsipras do? He will simply (according to his words) reject the memorandum. Then? The Europeans will not give Greece any money, and then Greece won't be able to pay its debt on time, and thus will enter an orderly default. Unless Mr Tsipras has another source of money to avoid the default, there is a 99.9% chance Greece will default.

After deafult, Greece will not be able to get up on it feet again for a simple reason. No one will will trust Greece again, and no one will be willing to lend money again to Greece at least in the short or medium term .

So what is the plan? He mentioned that there are 163 billion euros in clients' funds (deposits) in the banks and he is planning to use this money to promote growth. There is a simple truth that Mr Tsipras forgot (or ignored), that this money is not the state's money, not even the banks' money. It is the people's money. The banks might be able to use a small part of it for a very very short time but will be forced to keep the majority of it in liquid cash, because people might need the money and people want to withdraw money. What Mr Tsipras forgot is that clients' funds need to be segregated also from banks' funds and that there are very strict rules on the ability and how to use the clients funds.

Supposedly the rules are to be changed, and laws as well, and the banks use these funds to promote growth by lending them to others to start new projects. What if the same happens again, and these new debtors cannot pay back the banks? Who is going to give the money to the original owners of the funds?

The market won't even allow him to do that, as depositors will simply withdraw their funds the moment they learn that the banks will be lending them to others and those others might not be able to pay back.

People have to understand that Greece's future is within the eurozone. We should accept the hardship now and try to live with it, but when the crisis passes, Greece will emerge much stronger than ever.

I. Gerousis
  

Archaeology becomes Greece's Achilles heel...


There's a real irony here. Archaeology could be one of Greece's greatest assets. One that brings in millions of euros each year. Rather than the hundreds of Greek government archaeologists being ruled by bureaucracy, many could become supervisors for people who come and ”pay to dig”, as part of a new stream of alternative tourism. That would mean excavations wouldn't require any government finances because they'd be self-funded. Actually better than self-funded, they could turn a profit! With all the antiquities and supervision remaining in the hands of Greek government archaeologists.

Archaeology could become a major resource and establish a competitive advantage regarding tourism for Greece -- with people coming from all over the world to experience a ”real-life” excavation. Each of these tourists would pay for accommodation, meals, car hire, excursions/lectures, entertainment, shopping/gifts, resulting in at least 1,500 euros in expenditure per person during a 2-week stay.

And the reason for visiting Greece -- instead of Spain, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Egypt, Croatia etc. -- is to participate in a real-life supervised excavation.

But who in Greece has the authority to ever make this happen?

Bureaucracy is really Greece's Achilles heal, not archaeology.

John Fardoulis
Sydney, Australia

 
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras

Tsipras is dissembling. He does not state what his alternative to the memorandum would be. He fails to admit that parts of the austerity measures are essential, because that truth would scupper SYRIZA's chancesin the coming June 17th election.

Tsipras will not answer questions, either with straight answers, or by admitting this obvious fact: the public sector is the bane of the Greek economy and must be culled if Greece is ever to prosper again.
 
Rosemary Papaeliou
 

Re: Zannias sounds the fiscal alarm

How many more alarms have to be sounded before people pay the taxes that are due to the state? Will it be easier in drachmas? 

Greece has been promising and commiting to clamp down on tax evasion and corruption since before it joined the EZ, and absolutely nothing has been done. Along with the bailouts and ”sudden” wake-up call about its dire financial situation, ever more taxes, ever higher, were introduced, which, in my opinion, only made the Greek people dig their heels in even further to avoid and evade taxes of any form. 

As there is no leadership among the kleftes in parliament (past and future), nothing will continue to be done. 

No-one has the courage, or maybe even brains, to draw a line, appeal to the Greeks' sense of duty, introduce lower taxes and then clamp down really hard. Instead, more than 2 years have again been wasted and obviously tax revenues have fallen and will continue to do so as the economic situation deteriorates even further. What about a tax amnesty along with lower taxes? I firmly believe that, underneath all the stealing, lying, corruption, fakelaki, tax evasion, there is still honour to do the right thing. But it is also human nature to resist the state and new and higher taxes will not increase revenues but achieve exactly the opposite. 

Instead of encouraging investment, welcoming new businesses and thereby increase corporate tax revenue at least, the roadblocks, inefficiency and bureaucracy remain firmly in place. No-one in their right mind is going to beg Greece to be able to invest there and create jobs. There are billions of euros in EU funds, project funds not being ”absorbed” because the civil service is simply incapable of working. 

The headless chickens in government were and are too busy running around to protect their own pockets and positions to worry about citizens digging in rubbish bins to feed themselves. 

There are computer systems in place that would simplify and assist in collecting and checking on income received and declared, but then the kleftes' wealthy friends would be exposed. 

And now that none of the reforms have been introduced, parliament has dragged its feet, it is easier to blame Germany for all Greece's evils. And the one industry that could save part of the economy and revenues, tourism, is being decimated by a few fools who thought Angela Merkel looked good in a Nazi uniform. As some other writers here have said, it is time to look in the mirror, a good, long, hard look.

Mary-Ann Faroni
Zurich
 

The drachma fallacy 

I lived all my adult life in the U.S. Went to college and graduate school there, taught at a top-notch university, succeeded in business and investments, had three children, and decided to bring money, experience, knowledge and family to Greece, to invest and to live. Almost 6 years after my first endeavor, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and having achieved nothing, being mired in corruption, bureaucracy, and collaborators whose fees are determined by law, and whose services subsequently are of extremely low quality, I am of course rethinking my investment. But make no mistake! I would have never come in the first place to invest if it wasn't for the euro. Who would want to invest in a country with all of the above, which will only be exacerbated by a return to the drachma, with the added bonus of having any return on investment in a constantly depreciating and basically worthless currency?

You don't need to be an economics or finance expert to see why no one will invest in Greece unless everything changes except the currency.

Agatha Venetis
 

On Greek myths: Where are the thinking Greeks? 

I would like to ask any Greek who wants to stay in Europe, but votes against honouring the austerity agreements: What makes you think you have a right to demand, even try to force, others to feed you? Apart from having lost all contact with reality, do you have no honour, no shame?

Solidarity requires effort from both sides. But Greece is eating European money for 30 years. Still, Europe does not ask Greece to pay back. While the rest of the world has written Greece off as a hopeless case, unwilling to learn, Europe offers even more help. In return, all that Europe asks from Greece is to stop eating more than it earns. And you think that even that is asking too much? Then you deserve what is coming.

My question to the other Greeks: Where are you? I know you never thought like that, you never lived like that. You will lose everything as a result of the ignorant arrogance of some of your compatriots. But still you do not speak? You do not even vote for the few politicians who make an honest effort to change things? Leave them to fight alone? You will just sit and moan and watch Greece go down in the stranglehold of ignorance and corruption and be remembered like that? That makes me sad. And I am just a German who happens to like Greece and the Greeks, even some of the ignorant ones. Do you really have nothing to say? Nothing to do?
 
Torsten Mailahn
London


If Tsipras wins the election... 


If Tsipras wins the election, I hope he enjoys his two seconds of glory -- for that's all it will be until the EU call his bluff, pulls the plug and watches Greece sink into the seas! 

Nick Triantafallides
UK


The dilemma we face 


As a Greek who lives abroad most of the year, but who has invested heavily in his homeland, I feel obligated to remind my family and friends that we face worse austerity if we totally reject the current austerity.

A Greece outside of the euro will be frozen out of all debt markets and will be forced to print money and tax heavily, and to what end? People will be much poorer than they were in the 60's and 70's without the extent of remittences unless a whole generation leaves the country like happened in the 50's and 60's.

What concerns me is that we need to recreate a Greek civil society without any clientelism, a society that accepts the rule of law without the daily petty corruption that falls upon us when we have to deal with various government agencies. I want a Greece that is transparent, and takes advantage of the current crisis to dismantle the current system that sees students learn nothing at school, get radicalised, and rote-learns at the frontisterion (coaching classes), goes to higher education and enjoying a 5+ year holiday whilst studying as little as possible! All of this is aided and abetted by lazy and incompetent teachers that count down the days till they retire. Please no more!

This sort of Greece will be competitive against countries like the UK/Australia where graduates from the universities earn multiples of what a Greek graduate earns. The price will be that you are at risk of losing your job, and we will have no excuses any more. I am hopeful that we can have such a patrida (homeland). One where I do not come each year and get told that we have no chance of changing anything and we vote in SYRIZA and Chrysi Avgi; please wake up my comrades -- these guys are no different to the Communists who are against everything but don't want an open Greece.

Each of us has to change, and start by listening to us Greeks who live in countries with functioning civil societies and look at the future and not just who to blame.

Vasili Papadopoulos
 

Why should we pay?

Personally, I pay my taxes and all my credit debt. Otherwise the bank will come take my house and the tax department could, with all its right, lock me up. 

It's my responsibility to manage my finances, and if I had taken on other responsibilities than my own, I would be liable for those too. It seems to me and other very frustrated citizens that some people whom took the economy into their hands must be held accountable. 

The banks have been giving money to government institutions(political parties, government subsidiaries etc.) with no regard as to how or when this money going out is going to come back in. The banks knew very well that they would be taking it from the backs of the citizens. Of course with the motley pack of politicians we have inherited, everything was possible. 

If I had a business that invested money and my investment was lost due to a bad deal, could I go to the government and ask for my money back? No! They would laugh in my face and tell me: “Better luck next time.” 

So it sounds to me that these financial institutions have made a really bad investment that unfortunately has lost a tremendous amount of money. Better luck next time! 

No, I don't feel the responsibility to pay from my taxes for those whom have not done their homework and lost out. No citizen is liable for paying one euro for the sins of the inept. 

One last thing, those political parties that think they will pay the millions back from our pockets better think twice. Their accumulated debt is their own and will find a way to pay the financial institutions back. May I suggest from their kickbacks and salaries for a start.

Hari T

 

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