OPINION

On the taxi strikes, the bailout and competitiveness

Cab strike

We are all able, with some difficulty, to endure the ridiculous strike of the ?cab owners.? It actually displays how unnecessary they are.

Hotel owners have employed transfer companies and other private transport to serve their customers. If they ever go back to work, we consumers should strike and not pay for the trips to make up for the losses they have inflicted on our businesses in the tourism sector.

Nick Geronimos

Misunderstandings

Basil Zafiriou cites the OECD statistics that state that Greeks work more (many more) hours than their Dutch counterparts. That may be, but they produce far less. This competitiveness disadvantage (roughly 80% of the EU-27 average — on a par with the former Warsaw Pact countries) is a fundamental cause of Greece’s troubles. It’s the cause of a bloated public sector, the cause of this massive debt. If it is a root cause, then the fears of the Northerners can be assuaged. We can assure them that they will get their money back. Once Greece’s competitiveness has improved, Greece will be able to stand on its own two feet.

However, if it is not a root cause — if the root cause is actually societal or cultural, then it will take a lot more for Greece to catch up. It may even be something that Greeks don’t want to do. Then Mr Joannes den Hollander’s fears will be well founded.

Nick Kanellos

Europe kicked the can

Europe kicked the can a little further down the road. We took a 21% rebate on the bonds which were already 50% down. The Dutch were very much against helping Greece. As a Dutchman I have another opinion.

Did Europe really have the intention of helping Greece? I very much doubt the sincerity of the bailout package. Everybody knows that Greece never should have entered the eurozone in the first place. So the sentiment, especially in Finland, Holland and, to a lesser extent, Germany, is very negative towards helping Greece. The Dutch PM and finance minister were tightroped by the right-wing Parliament. This bailout was a political compromise — one hand helping and the other hand sending a signal of warning to other countries: do not follow the footsteps of Greece. Greece and the other needy countries have shown us that we in Europe need to move further to a fiscal and political union. That will take more bold steps from our politicians. Through the Internet and new media, information has become available to the whole world. We now can compare the quality and effectiveness of governments from one country to another country. No need to explain that the Germans run their country more efficiently and effectively than nearly any other nation in Europe. What does that say? Does this statement disqualify Greece? In no way, since we are in one union it means that we should learn from each other. Why not present the best practices to help countries performing better. Greece has a lot of wealth which if thoroughly exploited could generate a source of future driven welfare. In the end it is not about aid from Europe. Greece has focused too much on EU funds. Those EU funds have turned Greece into a junkie. A junkie addicted to cheap money. Greece should no longer focus on EU funds. Greece must focus on it’s own future. Greece should invest in it’s own future by taking bold steps. It doesn’t help Greece by building roads with EU funds. Investing in labor-generating projects with a spinoff to other parts of the economy. Greece should formulate its view on tourism. Tourism is seen as something which comes on its own. History has shown that you need to work hard and need to have a focus on everything you do. This year Greece has taken advantage of the turmoil in Egypt. What will happen to the Greek tourism industry next year when tourists have forgotten about Egypt’s revolution and come back to flock the shores of Hurghada again?

For my good friend Panos in Athens, I hope that Greece will make the right decisions in the years ahead to come.

Hans Buiter

The Greek bailout

Thank you for your coverage of the Greek debt crisis. I am an economist who has been following it and would like to comment on your view that the private sector plan will reduce Greece’s debts.

One of your articles talks of 35 billion euros being put aside from the bailout package to provide collateral for the private sector plan. However Greece will borrow this money from the EFSF. So her debt will rise by this 35 billion euros on gross terms.

Accordingly in gross debt terms Greece will not get the improvement that has been claimed so far.

Shaun Richards

Helping tourism?

I don’t know who is kidding who here? How do taxi drivers feel they are helping tourism by opening up the archaeological sites for free for tourists? How do they suggest that tourists get to these sites? I can assure you through friends who traveled to Greece in the last two weeks that they not only cannot wait to return home but have no desire to rush back. It’s truly sad to see how primitive this country has become. There are many smart people here. To think that they cannot come to the table and agree on something so vital as coming to a peaceful agreement on the taxi industry.

There is absolutely no order here.

I have cousins that have worked hard to build a beautiful home near the University of Patras. They have the extreme pleasure as they are sitting in their garden in the evening to enjoy the sounds of drag racing cars on the grounds of the university. The police are prohibited from going on campus and stopping these drag racers and thus, the people in the area have to suffer. The police are supposedly protecting the rights of those on campus — what right do they have to disrupt the neighboring areas? Complete idiocy.

The country is bleeding economically and needs to have many things in order, and the one thing that brings immediate money into the country/local businesses and merchants, tourism, is now completely disrupted. The people that make the long trip here, sacrificing to come to this country with the extreme loss of dollar value to euro have unfortunately made an unfortunate decision this year with the extreme mess Greece is in.

We keep hoping for the best, but unfortunately are so disappointed.

Athena Diamantias