OPINION

Public awareness

The economic data presented on Wednesday during the first session of the new government committee confirmed that Greece’s true fiscal state is a far cry from the rosy picture painted by the former Socialist administration. In fact, the situation is worse than what the current government officials had expected based on the information that was available to them while in opposition. Costas Karamanlis’s administration has decided to take stock of public finances that have so far revealed a plethora of problems: the deficit is bigger than what had officially been stated, the cost of the Olympic Games has exceeded official projections, Greece is seriously lagging in absorbing European Union funds, and the deficits at state clinics are estimated at hundreds of billions of drachmas. Recently disclosed data vindicates Kathimerini’s insistence on this issue, insistence that was scoffed at a few months ago. Extensive creative accounting had helped disguise the true dimension of the problem, which means that the new government will have to curtail expenditures, maximize the absorption of EU funds and introduce measures aimed at boosting growth, private investment and development. The prime minister’s call on his ministers to «tidy up (the economy) and cut down on expenditures» reflects deep concerns with the findings of the ongoing economy review, as well as an awareness that failure to limit expenditures will have a negative effect on growth after the Summer Games. In the light of this exigency, the government must draw up a new economic policy that is not based on the fabricated picture drawn by the previous administration. Karamanlis wants to fulfill his pre-election commitments and meet his promise to respect public intelligence, so it is both natural and necessary that he try to take stock of public finances as soon as possible and then present the findings in public so that people understand the realities on which the new economic policy is based. The Greek people have many demands and expectations of the new government – first of all, they want to be informed about the true state of the economy and see the government take concrete steps to improve it. By the end of the summer, the conservative administration is expected to have tackled the fiscal problems, according to the degree of the Games’ success. However, in September, it will have to announce Greece’s new economic policy. In order to succeed, the government must present a serious and comprehensive policy that makes no secret of the genuine economic conditions.