Inexcusable errors

With much delay and under pressure from the current political circumstances, the government is trying, 10 months short of the national elections, to create the right environment for the revival of economic activity. This time, it is not aiming at the economy itself, but at the voters instead. Using the same tools, i.e. the state-owned firms’ partial flotation and deregulation, Greece’s National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis is trying to collect funds that are to be distributed among the lower-income groups in the hope that this will reverse the climate in favor of the ruling Socialists. At the same time, he is trying to create a more upbeat climate on the stock market and bring about a provisional improvement of expectations. Basically, Christodoulakis is following the tried-and-tested method of handing out funds in return for votes. This is confirmed by the economic aides’ hastiness, and their will and urgency to meet demands. This, however, does not comprise any inspired and organized economic policy that can be trusted to yield long-term benefits. Rather, it is an act of frivolousness, as privatization will only yield one-off profits, while the economic obligations produced in the electoral period will grow. The problem, of course, is that the government did not do the right thing at the right time. It turned a blind eye to the great structural problems during the first years of the current term and insisted on a superficial management, and it has now reached a point where it cannot stand the economic strains. It is no coincidence that the latest ICAP report shows that the number of newly established firms in 2000 was lower than in previous years, while the number of mergers and near-bankruptcies went up. In other words, the government wasted much precious time and is now wrestling with the same old problems at a time when it should be enjoying a new, broader scope – a basic precondition for growth and prosperity, both for the State and the populace. Kathimerini has repeatedly said that broad structural reforms are needed if the economy is to establish solid foundations. Without the necessary restructuring, the Greek economy will remain vulnerable and unstable, unable to meet the nascent global conjuncture. Unfortunately, the government has failed on this, and is now creating more of the same yet again just to make an impression – something that is inexcusable.