OPINION

On the economy, competitiveness and illegal buildings

How about something positive

With all of the problems facing Greece, which will require years to straighten out, and the incompetent leadership that has afflicted the Greek people for most of the last 45 years and beyond, it is astonishing to step back and realize that Greece is, in fact, a developed country with an advanced economy.

Granted, the Greek economy is probably one of the most inefficient, uncompetitive and underdeveloped of the world’s advanced economies.

Greece’s economy is not to be confused with that of Germany, Japan or the Netherlands. However, Greece’s economy is not to be confused with that of Bangladesh, Namibia or Egypt, either.

The fact is that Greece’s economy, while struggling, is advanced and that the good news is there is still room for growth.

What many people seem to forget is that the economy is advanced because the majority of the Greek people are hard workers and taxpayers. They will continue to work hard and pay their taxes, they will endure the changes that are required to make the economy more competitive, just as the Greeks from a generation ago worked hard to transform Greece from a third world country into an advanced economy.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble believes Greece will be competitive, but that it will take time. If Greece gets there, it will not be because of the leadership but of the changes they implement, and it will be because of the hard work of the majority of the Greek people.  

 

Peter Kates

Tax offices told to halt payments

Didn’t we have enough with these shenanigans? We cooked the books so we could qualify to join the euro when we should not have done it and look where this brought us.

Now they have an order to hold onto refunds and salaries to make the bottom line look good? To whom may I ask? To our lenders? So we show we make progress and continue to congratulate each other on our success?

There are a few old men around Omonia Square who still fool passers by, trying to convince them to bet on their shell games. Do our elected officials believe we can fool the bankers the same way? I doubt it.

Monica Lane, Florida

French banks (and others…)

Big deal. the French banks and insurance companies will bring their entire Greek exposure into the rescue plan.

Stay on the ground before you get carried away.

Normally, when a borrower is in such dire straits as Greece is today, banks are happy when they can rescue 20-40 percent of their risk. The Greek rescue plan allows bank to rescue 80-90 percent of their risk.

Wouldn’t anyone grab for the cookie jar if he was offered such a wonderful deal?

Note: the difference between the 20-40 percent and the 80-90 percent is being shouldered by taxpayers.

Klaus Kastner, Austria

Greece will become competitive in another 10 years

Great news! According to the German minister we will be fine in 10 years.

When the «investors» buy up all the valuable and profitable sectors of our economy at 20 centimes to the euro and manage to have enough influence to create competitiveness and eradicate corruption, we will be on our way to prosperity.

Can the current politicians of all parties hear the drums beating?

This time around there will be no tanks rolling in and no shots will be fired. There will be a different kind of occupation either because of desperation, terrible management of our affairs or simple indifference of those who rule.

One does not need to be a genius or hold a degree in economics to understand that the current efforts will never produce results.

We need to do the uncomfortable thing and bring the big fat cats to justice. Punish those who betrayed their fudiciary duties and demand return of the money they received as bribes while saddling the country with projects and purchases we did not need and could not afford.

Realize that one civil servant for every 10 citizens is not needed or required. We do not get the services we expect from them anyway.

The prime minister needs to realize that he must dismantle the basis of the programs his father put into effect. Pacifying his party’s members and chastizing the opposition is not productive.

All politicians, business people and great minds of this country have to work together to get Greece out of this mess. Not for the aristocracy or the strong unions, but for our country and its reputation around the world.

Monica Lane, Florida

PM looks to new growth model

Job creation and growth comes from less government interference and less support to failed companies and bankrupt ideas. Greece cannot afford to support losers. Bring down all those government regulations and controls that have a disabling effect on any investment.

No xenophobia; let the private market flourish with limited government regulations.

Greeks have brains; let them use it, let them prosper.

You cannot and should not maintain a bankrupt system. Enough of this socialist propaganda and this central control. Free the markets.

Antoine Crassa

The secret of our success

Dear Mr Malkoutzis,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mike Delavinias and I am a 48-year-old transplanted Greek-Canadian. 40 years ago I was taken away from the land that I loved and still love with a passion. My last thought at night before going to bed is Greece as it is my first waking thought in the morning. With that said…

I do read the English version of Kathimerini on a daily basis. I read your article with a tear in my eye not because I happen to agree with what you said, but because in such turbulent economic times as Greece is facing we need people to support Greece in it’s fight for survival. Yet all the commentaries I read are all negative and, may I say, anti-Greek.

I understand that there’s been long-standing corruption in Greece, but that goes not only for government officials but also the average Greek. But the average Greek will not accept any blame or responsibility now that it?s all come to the forefront but, like always, blames the government, no matter what party was in power.

We do need to talk about true Greek success stories and achievements rather than rioting and taxi strikes. Maybe that will bring up morale within the country.

The country needs heroes as it had during the revolution of 1821, not in the fighting sense but patriots who love the beautiful country they are blessed to live in and are eager to show the world that Greece is not just a history but that we are truly descendants of Pericles, Agamemnon, Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates and all.

As I always like to say to people, the blood running in my veins is not red but blue and white.

Iakovos Mike Delavinias, Toronto

A new era: The end of impunity

The sale of «protection» services has a long history in the major cities of my country, the United States. A store or restaurant owner is approached by the neighborhood boss of thugs and advised that without his protection the security of the enterprise cannot be guaranteed. Doubt on the part of the store owner is dissuaded when his windows are blown out the next day. Protection will cost the proprietor a percentage of his gross (not net) income. It is extortion in its simplest form.

Accordingly, I was astonished to read of the proposal of the Greek government to charge certain homeowners a fee (tax? penalty?) for protection against the demolition of their houses for the next 20 years. It is extortion of a higher order.

The condition of «informal development», i.e., the construction of buildings without building permits, or construction in otherwise banned areas such as a forest or coastal zone, is a recognized problem in Greece, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and in fact everywhere, in virtually every country (including the US). People circumvent bureaucracy and inconvenient public policy by taking the issue into their own hands to create their own housing. Much of this construction is of good quality, acceptable as to sanitation and safety requirements. It is also unrecorded in the local cadaster and is off the property tax rolls, cannot be mortgaged and carries the threat of public prosecution. The UN and the EU, as well as other organizations continue to study the problem; solutions include everything from demolition of substandard or environmentally inappropriate construction to penalties and fees for final recognition and legalization.

The Greek proposal is an example of this latter approach — except that what is offered to the homeowner, at significant cost, is protection for only a limited period. Telling a family that their home is safe for now, but may be reconsidered for demolition 20 years hence — or for a new round of fees — is clear extortion-by-government.

The proposed measure is impunity, not as suggested by your editorial of July 30-31, the impunity of union groups and party organizations, but the impunity of government itself in this exercise of extortion against property owners.

Robert W. Foster