ECONOMY

SEV: Rebound won’t come in 2014

A day before the government embarks its next round of negotiations with the country’s creditors, the president of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Dimitris Daskalopoulos, warned on Wednesday that the fiscal adjustment program needs to be revised as he cannot see an economic rebound happening in 2014, as the official forecast provides for.

“The time has come to start holding discussions in a smarter, more strategic and more long-term manner, instead of wasting our time on petty bargaining over procedural adjustments, because that is what I have been seeing over the last couple of months,” Daskalopoulos told a press conference in Athens.

He argued that the conditions for the execution of the program have changed for the worse and that “the circumstances dictate a broader and more long-term revision of the Greek program beyond bargaining and measures for the [next] installment.”

The SEV chief called on Brussels and Athens to focus on policies that will help increase cash flows and bolster the economy’s growth potential: “The recession is deepening in 2013, the prospect of a rebound for 2014 is diminishing, and privatizations are at best delayed,” he said.

The program’s execution will become more difficult partly due to the crisis in Cyprus, Daskalopoulos said, adding that he expects it to lead to a further 0.35 percent contraction of Greece’s gross domestic product – a figure which could rise to 1 percent. He explained that although the impact is not direct on the economy, there will be long-term consequences as 9 percent of Greek exports go to Cyprus. He also said there are many other links between the two countries’ economic activities.

As for the layoffs in the public sector in Greece, Daskalopoulos stressed that the discussion “to sack or not to sack” has to end. Instead, he said, the government and its creditors should place more emphasis on creating an efficient state.

“It makes no sense to use various pretexts in order to fight against the dismissal of civil servants who break the code of conduct, when there are almost 1 million people in the private sector who have lost their jobs,” said the SEV chief.