OPINION

On Europe’s fiscal pact, Greek diaspora

Europe’s fiscal pact: The final irony?

Well, it’s not only Rome, of course, but Emperor Merkozy is still fiddling while Rome burns. They are waffling, hesitating, introducing «new measures» purely to placate the markets who no longer believe a word they say, because with every (yet another!) summit, only skeletons remain as there’s not much flesh on all their brilliant plans. And to continue with the emperor, his new clothes aren’t looking too hot either.

As I said in my last letter, why do they think anyone’s going to follow the new rules, when the old ones were ignored as they bumbled along? How can struggling countries pay penalties, just adding to their debt burden?

Greece is being driven to her knees and will be there for quite a few years to come. Where’s growth going to come from? Who wants to invest in a country that’s been destroyed by the Troika? But I guess as long as they keep buying armaments from Germany, there’ll be a token attempt at trying to saving the poor Greeks.

In my very amateur opinion, right at the beginning of the crisis, there should have been a tax amnesty introduced, with serious and immediate penalties for evaders, taxes should have been lowered across the board, all private bank transfers abroad blocked, but instead more and more taxes have been heaped on a nation spinning from the austerity measures. And they seriously budgeted increased income whilst strangling the economy? It could have been a golden egg, but the goose was killed some time ago.

Mary-Ann Faroni

Zurich

Europe’s fiscal pact

Mr Malkoutzis?s article summed up what most of us are thinking here, that the EU have wasted so much time that we cannot see just how the Euro can survive in this climate. Many Europeans are also extremely angry at the 3% limits, as Mr Malkoutzis rightly said France and Germany were the first countries to break this regulation. What he didn’t add is that if this agreement is signed in June, it will give the EU the right to inspect our economy and tax records when the EU records have not been passed by auditors over the past 17 years due to irregularities.

Just what are we doing to solve our problems? We have managed to remove 6,500 Public Workers out of 150,000 which have to leave by 2015. As I believe PASOK increased the public workers by over 5,000, this means we are back to square one. With both major parties in the coalition against this demand for fear of losing their votes.

We have flown 170 illegal immigrants home: well done, that only leaves another 983,000 here that are working, without paying taxes or insurance and sending part of their earnings out of Greece. Did we ever consider legalizing more immigrants and collecting our taxes?

We are told that in 6 months time we MIGHT get results regarding illegal gambling, just what are they doing during that 6 months or the past two years, we are not informed.

Our two state TV stations are on strike for 3 days; surely we could lose one of those immediately and that would be a good move that all would agree with.

No, Greeks cannot organize anything, and yet why is it that our shipping industry works? London works with Piraeus, and they work together all over the world. In Australia the Greeks are amongst the most respected subjects in the community, they all work together. The same applies to Canada and much of the USA. Organization comes from working together for a common goal.

Why doesn’t this work in Greece? Firstly, Greece is a country for old men. Young people are denied responsible jobs and allowed by their families to loll around universities for years. You are called a ?pedi? (child) even at 40; you are not a pedi anywhere else in the world over 18. Our education system is not designed for working together, it’s far too competitive. It sets children against each other for marks instead of working together on projects. The civil war is never discussed, not even in history lessons. Greece is far too political, this is shown by the voting. The shifting voters are the people that are non-political and looking for a solution for years now, so they vote between the only two parties that stand a chance of being elected in the hopes that changes might be made. To no avail.

Now we are seeing friends and relations suffering and our lives are miserable. We are blamed for the Euro problem, which is ridiculous; as 2% of the EU it wasn’t possible to cause all these problems.

Germany is the hub of Europe for exports from all over the world and merely handles goods. For this reason it was in her own interest to sort this problem out two years ago. Germany has grown from the EU and by rights should be ploughing money back into it. The position Merkel is taking is illogical and downright cruel, as they all knew of the corruption here and used it to their own advantage. All the talk of what will be done to assist the economy to grow is talk and major projects. We need investment now, not in 4 or 5 years, which is how long it will take to get these projects moving. If Germany doesn’t move now, they will pay a higher price than we are right now.

Ann Baker

Widening budget deficit points to new measures

Oh… A week or so ago we were to meet our goals, two days ago no new measures were needed, today the news changes yet once more.

Does anyone else get the feeling that we need a change of guard and people who:

Can enact a law that has teeth and can be seen through to its implementation?

Can take a half hour to address the Nation and in concise, honest terms articulate the truth and explain the measures to be taken to address the issues?

Can follow though with prosecution of those who break the law, including their own party’s favorites and with no exception apply the rules?

Can be brave enough to weather the reaction from the unions, the opposition and get this country out of this mess?

Can actually collect the taxes and fees imposed and due by everyone.

So far all we got is the promise of new measures and new rules that are so convoluted, they leave a gap an aircraft carrier can slide through.

There is a buffet of suggestions, promises and projections that have never gone into effect and are always off the mark.

No one wants to see more unemployed people joining the ranks but there are civil servants who have been skimming the cream for years. By now they should have enough saved to navigate life and lighten the load of more salaries and perks paid to them.

The Church has been negotiating to build a luxury complex in Vouliagmeni while the government cannot even sell the lottery licenses or the Ellinikon airport. Whatever happened to the agreement to sell the Venizelos airport? Has anything been accomplished yet?

What is wrong with this picture? There cannot be 300 incompetent fools in that Parliament.

Isn’t there anyone among them who can come up with something concrete and workable?

Monica Lane

Florida

Re: Europe’s fiscal pact: The final irony?

Dear Mr. Malkoutzis,

As somebody who does not have a direct insight in Brussels all I can do is review the publications by Eurostat, where you find passages in the REPORT ON GREEK GOVERNMENT

DEFICIT AND DEBT STATISTICS like:

“As far as a possible parallel between the 2004 and 2009 situations is concerned, as can be deducted from the following paragraphs, there are some common methodological features between the 2004 and 2009 episodes. In both cases, in the aftermath of political elections, substantial revisions took place revealing a practice of widespread misreporting, in an environment in which checks and balances appear absent, information opaque and distorted, and institutions weak and poorly coordinated. The frequent missions conducted by Eurostat in the interval between these episodes, the high number of methodological visits, the numerous reservations to the notifications of the Greek authorities, on top of the non-compliance with Eurostat recommendations despite assurances to the contrary, provide additional evidence that the problems are only partly of a methodological nature and would largely lie beyond the statistical sphere.?

… {snip} …

In the EDP notification of 21 October 2009, the amount of other accounts payable of the Greek central government increased by 192 mn in 2008 and by minor amounts for the years 2005 to 2007, increasing government deficit for all years. This resulted from the revision of the Treasury Accounts which exist in Greece to support specific operations which do not transit via the budget, such as for military expenditures or payments on guarantees called.

So I can base my opinion only on that type of publications, which seemingly are not disputed by the Greek government.

And yes, I agree that 3% is 3% and 60% of GDP is 60% of GDP (especially after German politicians kept on repeating that as a mantra since the signing of Maastricht) and that somebody should have told Mr. Kohl that it was time to quit spending instead of waiting for Mr. Schroeder to show up and do what he should have done. But the point is that they got the message before the country went to hell in a hand-basket (something we might not see in the rest of the EU). Envying them for acting faster is completely out of place. And that he who acts faster will be more successful is also clear.

Now, to your op-ed: the difference between the new (proposed) treaty and Maastricht will be that there is a independent authority with control rights and nobody can vote letting anybody off the hook (I believe they are talking the European Courts as independent control authority) because they will have to act imperatively. That was one of the shortfalls of Maastricht to start with. The other was that there was a total lack of economic coordination. That is also being addressed (not always to the delight of all nations, like we have seen in the case of Britain lately).

I am sorry that I might have overreacted about the Germans, but sadly lately most commentators, politicians and ordinary citizens seem to be dedicated to some conspiracy theory about Germany about to invade Poland to subjugate all of Europe (sic.), which is far from true and certainly leading nowhere except to split up the eurozone, which for most Europeans is the only insurance they have to be able to have a say and a non-subordinate place in the economic history of the near future. Without a strong alliance Europe will return to what it was during the cold war: The ball for the game of the superpowers. Or worse to before the cold war: the ball for the game of some small powers ending like it ended already twice: The world burning.

Hope no hard feelings,

Alf Meier

Re: German industry eyes local talent

Another interesting article from K!

I’m aware that there is a prestigious German-Hellenic Secondary school in Thessaloniki that educates young Greeks to operate bi-lingually to a very high German standard of education. I should imagine that many of these then go on to either German Higher Education or to the Greek Technical Institute.

It is somewhat ironic that as Germany loses her brightest to better paid jobs outside the EU, Greece is about to lose her brightest to jobs with monthly salaries that actually get paid (?!) in Germany (and elsewhere).

On an individual level, as professionals, Greeks are probably as bright and capable as any. What Greece has to watch out for however is that if too many (how many is too many?) of her best and brightest go abroad, there will be no one left in Greece of the younger educated generation, or at least not enough, to help steer Greece away from the absolute free fall to a more controlled descent that may level out at some point in the future.

At such a time, a future government may find it necessary to institute restrictions on immigration and travel abroad for those categories of professionals who are decreed to be ‘needed’ in Greece. Sounds somewhat Stalinist, but the last thing Greece needs is to lose any prospects for future recovery because of her present situation.

There are many stress factors developing in the present crisis, each of which either singly or in combination could provoke an extreme reaction (authoritarian governance) in Greece in terms of perception of national survival/salvation. Losing her future to her present, like in a blood haemorrhage, might be one such stress factor.

Philip Andrews

The Greek diaspora will continue to grow

After your business news article about German companies trying to attract young Greek graduates of Athens Polytechnic to take engineering jobs in Germany, there can be no doubt that the Greek diaspora will continue to grow. When 70% of young Greeks surveyed plan on seeking careers overseas and the Greek diaspora of Australia is marketing their country as a great place to work and live, this will be the solution for a great many young Greeks with talent but no work, just as in other difficult economic times in Greece’s past. When I read recently that Ireland has seen over 40,000 of its workers, nearly 1% of its population, emigrate overseas looking for work in the last two years, Greeks seeking work will also go overseas, which will alleviate Greece’s serious unemployment problem somewhat.

Peter Kates