OPINION

Fixing the water pump

We are faced with a number of practical issues which will determine whether much-desired growth will ever occur. The problem is that brave decisions and reforms – which no one seems to be discussing or willing to implement – are required in this case.

We hear for instance, of the major interest expressed by foreign investors with regard to investing in the Greek tourism sector. They appear to be particularly interested in investing in the refurbishment of old hotels, as a number of serious studies in the sector point to a lack of four-star and five-star establishments.

That’s where the problems kick in. Banks are unable to play any kind of positive role as they are not in a position to overcome the major obstacle of non-performing loans. Another issue in this case is that a number of these hotels face legal complications as a result of construction breaches and other discrepancies.

Why not find solutions to all these problems and allow Greek citizens to find work if and when these investments take place? You don’t have to be Einstein to come up with solutions in a situation like this.

Shipping is supposedly another major strategic industry capable of absorbing thousands of Greeks in a number of posts. State schools are hardly sufficient when it comes to preparing people for this industry, while the idea of establishing a serious, private institution has yet to materialize. When the idea of streamlining salaries with international standards goes on the table, the few people who do not wish for things to change use various excuses to keep things just as they are.

Wherever you look, you see lost opportunities. The state is still not fully aware of its own assets and allows various crooks to take advantage of some them. Legacies are pillaged and every government that comes along promises to deal with the issue, but without any success.

The country has been sucked into the fiscal crisis, the memorandums and the barbaric and fruitless political confrontation.

Growth, however, does not require talking, it needs planning and decision-making.

I often recall a self-made, very wealthy, Greek-American who often recounted a story that took place in his village, on the outskirts of Sparta, in the Peloponnese, in the 1950s. The village water pump had been out of order for a few months. The women in the village were obliged to carry pitchers and walk several kilometers in order to fill them up at another water pump.

Day and night men hanging out at local cafes quarreled over who had broken the fountain, who was responsible for its repair, but in the end, never reaching any kind of conclusion or agreement.

We have reached a similar point. If we could only leave behind all the quarreling and just get on with fixing the “water pump” we would be much better off.