OPINION

On IMF demands, fare dodging and Greece’s shipping industry

Changes in Greece

I moved on my retirement to this wonderful country. I love the hospitality and the customs. Please keep these, but change the attitude to the idea that change is bad.

These silly strikes are not doing the country any good and are just prolonging the time it will take for Greece to be once again the proud country that it once was.

Greeks need to accept that it is time to change. No longer can professions be closed. No longer can old transport fares be held — after all, the transport system is bankrupt and in need of funds. Tolls have to go up to provide much-needed income for the repair of the roads.

Please, give this government time; it will take at least two years to get back on track. Stop the bribery and reduce the red tape.

Whilst Greeks strike the tourists will not come. Greece needs tourists.

Help Greece be great again.

MICHAEL EVANS

Crete

Reductions in salaries for saving some jobs

Maybe it is time to allow for internal compromises in companies for reducing the salaries of everybody, thus avoiding firing people. It would be difficult for everybody for sure, but it would make Greece more competitive and save jobs. And there is no better solution for the moment, since substantial economic growth will not return for a couple of years. The government should react fast, before too many people lose their job.

COSTAS GAVRAS

Change by the Greeks

I am a foreigner married with a Greek lady since 1998. I own a business here and pay my taxes when due and social security for the Greek lady working for me. Yet this government has continued to deny me the right of becoming a Greek citizen which I have applied for for the past two years. They keep saying that they are waiting for confirmation from the police on my criminal record, which I know is clean. I wonder how much longer this may take. Greece should emulate other European countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, etc. since they are EU members as well.

When it comes to our rights, we are foreigners, but when it comes to bills and taxes we are not. I hope the appropriate authority will take note.

TONY IKE

The shipping industry

The Greek shipping industry is a magic mirror that reflects what the Greek economy, especially, the real economy, could look like if it could operate in a climate more friendly to enterprise. Despite the fact that the shipping industry has no giants like COSCO, Maersk or Hyundai, but is fragmented into nearly 1,000 smaller companies, it is able to compete worldwide and provide world-class service in the industry. Shipping is one of the few industries where Greece is in fact a world-class competitor, and it is also one of the few industries in Greece that is able to operate, because of its international nature, without as much red tape, high corporate taxes, difficult labor unions and excessive government regulations that other Greek industries must work through or against. Because of the enterprising nature of the Greek people, creation of a more pleasant business climate in Greece by reducing red tape and burdensome regulations of the state bureaucracy combined with lower corporate taxes could take Greece to even higher economic levels in the future.

PETER KATES

Illinois, USA

Silent majority

I cannot agree more, that an efficient way to mobilize the silent majority could be through the social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, especially if used by the young generation. The latter could give a push for a more responsible and civic behavior of the whole nation. It can happen!

DENIS DEMERBES

France

PM is feeling the heat

On the surface, the Greek PM calling out the IMF looks like a child rebelling to a parent for not doing what they are told. The reality is the Greek PM is starting to feel the heat and is finally being asked to do what all prior Greek governments have failed to do, that is, to govern in a fiscally responsible and honest way.

Greek politicians are finding out that when they get ?bailout? money from others they are now playing with the ?big boys? and as such will now have to show tangible results in order to remain in the grand experiment called the EU.

Borrowing money at market rates is one thing, but getting a bailout means strings are attached and the PM should have realized that he relinquished certain rights when he deposited the money. Lashing out at the IMF was nothing more then the PM feeling the heat of his inactions.

The question still remains whether all Greek politicians can muster the courage to finally admit their past failures to its citizens and to right the course. For decades the Greek politicians have manipulated the «books» so they could feather their own nests.

Somebody needs to remind the PM that with decisions come responsibilities. The sole way of doing business is dead. The day of reckoning is here. Failure to act now will result in longer lasting misery, so much so, that Greece will wake up in 2020 and will say ?Remember 2011?, those were the good ole days!? Greece deserves better.

DENNIS J

Maryland, USA

Welcome feedback

As an x-pat living in America, some of the comments that I have started reading from many Greeks are truly welcome. They show that maybe, just maybe, that the majority can start realizing that they have been highjacked by the central governments of both sides for years.

The blame game needs to stop and Greece and it’s citizens need to look internally, correct what is wrong and export what is right. Drifting away from the rest of the EU members will end up having devastating results for all Greeks.

Finally, Greeks are good at taking care of their family members especially the young, in trying to give them better educations and the weapons to excel in life. If they can apply the same for their country surely the results will be very satisfying.

NICK VRETTOS

Dodging fares and tolls

Dear Patriots,

You managed to almost bankrupt the country. Time to accept the situation you are in and start paying your way. No utility should be running a deficit. Fares and toll fees means it?s a user pay system. User pay means exactly that. Stop behaving like spoiled brats and start facing up to your responsibilities and pay your way. The democratic right to protest means one does so within the law. Not paying fares and toll-ways is nothing more than theft. Time for all Greek politicians to be patriots first and politicians second.

NICK KAVA

It always amazes me to see public sector operations in Greece take what should be a very simple process and needlessly escalate it into a complex system full of loopholes (or red tape) that ends up being ineffective and costly to maintain.

Just the fact that Parliament has to waste its time on legislation authorizing stiffer penalties aimed at fare dodgers is indicative of the systemic problems that send us running around in circles and constantly losing money. They’re focusing on and treating a symptom, rather than the root cause itself, which is not the fare dodger per se.

The underlying root cause is the process of how one pays for public transport, at least on city buses. The system is wide open to abuse (fare dodging) as is, so Parliament?s time would be better spent getting the public transport sector to identify and implement a cost effective system to replace the current one.

The solution, in this case, is actually very simple and proven to be both effective (stopping fare dodging altogether) and ridiculously inexpensive compared to the system in place now. It needs to start with dropping the concept of purchasing a ticket to ride, getting it stamped, etc., along with all the costly technology and infrastructure required to support it.

Instead, an electronic fare box is installed next to the driver, one that accepts coins and bills, and automatically counts how much was deposited, thus eliminating the tickets altogether. Requiring passengers to board through the front door, they deposit the cost of the ride and then continue to board. The driver does not allow anyone on the bus who refuses to pay… it?s really that simple.

These fare boxes deposit the cash into a safe-like, steel container that is not easily accessible. They electronically report and update the main office with the amounts collected and the boxes are emptied at the end of each shift under secure conditions. The risk of robbery is quite low, due to the extraordinary difficulty of forcing the box open.

So now, instead of needing two people (the bus driver and conductor) to supervise the process, you only need one, which obviously saves money. Next, you no longer need all that ticket vending equipment both on and off the bus or even local ticketing offices by doing this — that saves a lot of money by eliminating the parts of the process that divert revenue into needless, indirect expenses. It’s a greener solution too — we’re not consuming paper (the actual tickets) this way.

Incidentally, I can?t take credit for this idea, because it’s how it’s done in other countries. I?ve observed and experienced this process in operation elsewhere and it clearly works very well for their transport authorities and passengers alike.

Come on folks, let?s start doing things smarter rather than harder!

MICHALIS KOTZAKOLIOS

Don?t sell the people?s assets

Tell the troika to get lost. The Greek state assets are not for sale. If the government bows to pressure from the troika the Greek people will not only have to pay off a massive debt but they will be owned by the French and Germans. The Greek people are under enough financial pressure as it is. If you sell off your banks, telecommunications and electricity assets the Greek people will not be able to afford anything. They will become the beggars of Europe.

KONSTANTINOS POLYDOROS