OPINION

Economic hypocrisy

There is usually an overabundance of lavish promises and hypocrisy during campaign periods, but this time things seem to have overstepped the mark. The public – already overwhelmed by communication excesses and public relations hooplas – is bracing for the worst. Yesterday, National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, a one-time advocate of strict fiscal discipline, said that he sees room for more handouts. «The convergence charter can incorporate more benefits, as this is justified by the improvement in the economy,» said the minister, who has done nothing since last December but seek ways to cover the yawning gaps in the nation’s finances. Christodoulakis’s latest remarks regarding increased social spending insult our intelligence. The minister made these comments in full awareness of the country’s fiscal troubles – which is extremely hypocritical of him. After all, he has firsthand knowledge of the fact that Greece’s public accounts are mostly bogus and that public deficit figures have been fabricated to the extent of prompting a review by the European Union. Finally, the minister knows that the public coffers have come under increased strain because of the need to meet the cost of Olympics-related projects. Under normal circumstances, Christodoulakis should be preaching fiscal discipline and be taking proactive steps to rein in spending. Needless to say, he should be the one pressuring other government officials so that the minimum possible burden is placed on the next administration. The finance minister has a heavy duty to discharge in view of the fact that he will probably not be the one to execute the current budget. Christodoulakis’s hypocrisy acquires a catastrophic dimension given his knowledge that Greece’s fiscal condition will be far worse after the end of the Summer Olympic Games. Indeed, he can see the all too visible signs, he has access to data that are kept secret from the public, and he knows that, in the early fall, the country will be on the brink of a fiscal crisis that will call for painful remedial action. Instead of being thriftier both with expenditure and words, Christodoulakis is pouring more oil on the flames, swelling the deficits and insisting on the logic of deception. He is doing bad service to the country, which portends a grim future that he may never have to apologize for – a typical phenomenon in this ill-fated country.