OPINION

And we were so productive…

In its latest competitiveness bulletin, in which the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) analyzes data from researchers at the European Central Bank, the conclusion that stands out is one that the federation underscores. The productivity of the Greek public sector is so weak that the total output of the state sector is 22 percent below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average. And if we measure ourselves not against the average but against the best performers in the OECD, we could have produced 35 percent more with the same expenditures. Whatever reservations one might have about the data, the general observation reflects common experience. If this state sector, with its corruption, its state-dependent entrepreneurs and client relations, had managed to be among the average of the developed, «honest» countries, it would mean we were being ruled by a system and people with such a surfeit of ability that their output exceeded even the cost of their sleight of hand. Let the thief be, voters might justifiably think. But there is no such surfeit of ability. By contrast, their conclusions about the sectors where Greek public administration beats the average might be considered paradoxical. Such success is documented in the field of health, where Greek productivity exceeds the average by 5 percent, and the area of income distribution in favor of the poorer 40 percent of the population, where productivity exceeds the average by 4 percent. The health sector is notorious for waste and corruption; and, as for income redistribution, just last week Greece came second after Spain in terms of inequality among the 15 EU member states. One quails to think of what the picture might have been if we weren’t so productive.