It’s time to pay the bill

The cash-raising measures announced by the government yesterday are no doubt painful. Regardless of the government’s intentions, it was inevitable that the country would, at some point, have to pay the price of PASOK’s reckless economic policies. The price tag is a hefty one and certainly not the one depicted in the Socialists’ understated economic reports that were produced under the influence of PASOK spin-doctor creative accounting policies. Regrettably, when it comes to government blunders, it’s the people who have to pay the price. «The hard efforts made by Greek citizens to make our country an EMU member were wasted on the alter of irresponsibility and petty politicking… We joined the EMU without having first tackled the country’s fiscal problem, [and] with a wasteful and ineffective state… The fruitless policy of the previous years cannot continue,» National Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. Government officials effectively admit that people’s sacrifices to ensure Greece’s membership of the eurozone were without purpose. The voters saw through PASOK’s bid to bamboozle the public and so punished the Socialists by removing them from power. They still hoped that the conservative government would not shift the burden of Costas Simitis’s failures onto their shoulders. They hoped that the cost would be covered by the spillover of a vigorous growth-oriented policy and a string of structural reforms. It is a pity, but such public expectations have not been fulfilled yet. The all too familiar revenue-raising measures – particularly by means of socially uneven, indirect taxation – were once again selected as the ultimate measure so as to compensate for the failure to trim deficits by boosting productivity. On top of imposing extra taxes, the government announced a package of measures aimed at reducing the state’s operational expenses and a swathe of growth-inducing policies. If the government wants to reinforce its credibility and galvanize its political influence, it must trim spending and find a tonic for growth. This is the only way to convince citizens – who will be called to shoulder the burden of tax hikes – of the need for fresh sacrifices. Otherwise, the tax hikes will merely be a prologue to yet another round of austerity measures.

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