Moving ahead with structural reforms

The government’s determination to brave the hefty political costs and push through the necessary structural reforms was articulated most emphatically by the prime minister’s comments following his meeting with the committee of public sector experts yesterday. Premier Costas Karamanlis’s repeated comments on the issue of economic reforms show that the conservative administration intends to stay the course. Besides, the economic figures speak for themselves. The mammoth deficit and the fiscal downturn leave no room for further foot-dragging. Any measures have to be taken before the year is out. True, the government’s resolve is the child of necessity. As Karamanlis himself admitted, «We cannot circumvent economic crisis we inherited (from the Socialists), particularly the huge deficit.» Karamanlis is not overstating facts. Ever since the New Democracy party rode to power, analysts have been warning that Greece cannot afford to waste any more time. The country lags behind, as the structure of the economy is outmoded and the public sector is heavily loss-making. The reforms promised by the prime minister are a necessity if we want Greece to survive in the globalized economic environment. In fact, changes are already overdue. The conservatives’ decision to conduct an audit of public finances and revise the deficit was necessary to expose the dark picture masked by PASOK’s creative accounting. Moreover, new economic measures had to follow suit. They didn’t. By failing to hammer out a new economic policy, New Democracy wasted much precious time and now the government finds itself under even greater pressure. «We cannot afford to waste any more time,» the premier admitted. And there is an extra reason for this: The government’s performance in other crumbling sectors has been equally or more disappointing. Attempts to streamline the state and to improve the culture and education sectors have been hit by delays, confusion and mismanagement. Similarly, the administration’s campaign to curb political and business entanglement has been stymied by either lack of courage or lack of will. The exigency of reforms means the economy is the only sector where the government can leave its mark at present. Circumstances have forced the administration to brave any hesitation and move on with reforms.

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