ECONOMY

Panagiotis Throuvalas: Priority in dealing with recession

panagiotis-throuvalas-priority-in-dealing-with-recession

MIG – VIVARTIA

The global spread of the pandemic has changed in a short time the living conditions of millions of people around the world. Uncertainty about life itself has put in question the organization of everyday life, the organization of national health systems, the way the economy works. We all know what the state did to reduce the spread of the pandemic and this has been recognized by (almost) all of us.

What is at stake today is the «next day»; however, it is important to say a few words about what happened in the period we just went through, because that is somehow part of the next day too. In a large Group like ours, with companies that stand out in the industries where they operate employing more than 7,000 people, all sorts of “consequences” appeared from the first few days.

Some of our companies experienced significant reductions in their turnover, while in others (fewer) things were better.

Moreover, in a short period of time everything in the operation of the companies had to be redesigned. Apart from the costal shipping sector and its enormous peculiarities understood by all, I would indicatively mention the case of food factories (e.g. the division of production lines into compartments) and the case of the food service sector to which a new operating model had to be applied.

SOLUTIONS
TO THE MOST DIFFICULT PROBLEMS

To do all this properly, safely and effe­ctively, is neither self-evident nor guaranteed. It was accomplished thanks to the efforts of all the people in the companies. They all put their knowledge, expertise, amazing amount of responsibility, and imagination into finding solutions to the most difficult problems. This is why we thank them.

With that in mind, we move on to the next day. In the current conditions and mainly for the year 2020, the problems in the market will concern the reduction of the turnover and the control of operating costs.

In the long run, a serious discussion has to take place on the country’s productive model –in an institutional and organized way. Yet, what is urgent today –and time is running out– is to deal with the problems we are currently facing. Companies will be affected by the extent of the recession and in particular by the sector in which they operate. In the basic scenario, more than 15 billion Euros of the country’s GDP will be lost this year and more than 1.2-1.3 trillion Euros at European level.

It has been said many times that the conditions created by the pandemic are unprecedented and are equated with conditions of exit from the war. We hear about Marshall-type plans or other complex financial tools to find the necessary resou­rces. Those who are familiar with this subject realize how difficult and complex these financial tools become when it comes to their implementation.

THE BEST POSSIBLE MIX

But let’s stay here, in the big picture. The issue is not to be overloaded with loans, either the companies or the Greek state itself. The point is to find the best possible mix between the origins of sources for funding and their use. Just to remind how easily major economic entities such as the United States and the United Kingdom have officially and directly funded their needs caused by the crisis by also issuing money.

To summarize, the first step is to find the necessary resources to boost the economy. Then you need to target their distribution by category of intervention. Other funds should go into strengthening market turnover either through governmental spending or through public investment programs. Other funds are needed to boost employment (e.g. by subsidizing the non-salary cost) and support specific categories of operating costs, and, finally, other funds should be channeled as loans through the banking system to address the liquidity problems of companies. Different goals, different origins of sources for funding.

* Panagiotis Throuvalas is President of MIG and President of VIVARTIA Group.

THE COMPANY AT A GLANCE

Sector: Holdings
Key Investments: Vivartia, Attica Group, Singular Logic
Headquarters: Greece
Establishment: 2007
Employees: 7.500
Turnover 2019: € 1.070.000.000