OPINION

Even the figures do not prosper

So far, the troubles of the national economy had been mainly highlighted by consumer sentiment and market behavior. In spite of this, the government has sought refuge behind tables listing various macroeconomic indicators in order to find fodder for the argument that the country’s economy remains on track. Unfortunately, for the Socialists, even numbers do not fare well these days. The precipitous 23.6 percent rise in the current accounts deficit in the first quarter of 2003, as against the first quarter of last year, signals an alarming development – changeable as these figures may be. The fact that the main reason for the deficit is a 14 percent drop in Greece’s absorption of funds from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) should alone force the government to damp down its triumphalism. Nor can the government brag about the fact that in the first quarter it has exceeded the target set for public debt in 2003 (171 billion euros) by more than 2 billion euros (about 700 billion drachmas). The picture becomes even grimmer if one examines the items that make up the current accounts balance. The fall in profits from the tourism industry does not leave much room for upbeat forecasts. In any case, the most significant issue is the continuing squandering of public funds, a phenomenon that which feeds Greece’s yawning deficit. Furthermore, the government has failed to take any measures to speed up the absorption of the EU’s structural funds so as to combat the problem – at least in the short term. At the same time, the market distortions caused by the unwarranted ties between Socialist cadres and business circles which are close to the government have also put the brakes on efforts to improve the competitiveness of local companies. What is worse, instead of hammering out a concrete set of measures that will end the current malaise, the government is turning a blind eye to the signs of economic crisis. In the light of the government’s delusion, it is meaningless expect an in-depth discussion of reliable and effective solutions.