Yesterday’s nightmare

PASOK’s recommendation that the government stop stirring up the past and start planning for the future is sound advice. But sometimes such proposals are fueled by ulterior motives. And that is likely in this case, as the Economy Ministry watches in shock and dismay as its plans for fiscal cleansing and growth are thwarted by virtually daily revelations about hidden debts and deficits. «How can I confidently plan for spending cuts when I arrive at my office every day fearing payment orders for back-pay, benefits and subsidies to public utilities that were not spotted during the audit of state finances?» Deputy Economy Minister Petros Doukas confided to me. Yesterday’s nightmare is casting a menacing shadow over tomorrow’s economy. This painful revelation was only too clear yesterday when the Bank of Greece announced that the state deficit had rocketed to 11,613 million euros at the end of last month, from 6,802 million euros at the end of May. The sorry state of revenues is to blame but the real coup de grace was delivered when 1,580 million euros of the state budget was forked out last month to cover hospital debts and another 1,028 million euros spent on bolstering the Agricultural Bank, which lost all its capital due to the stock market speculations of the previous Socialist administration. I read that PASOK is due in September to present a «black book» of the current government’s economic policy, juxtaposing pre-election promises with post-election action. This would indeed be a useful reference. However, I would advise the government to draft a similar book revealing the massive plundering of state funds by Costas Simitis’s regime so the public can see why its money is going into interest and amortization payments today.

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