OPINION

A speech that is losing its clout

It is doubtful that the opening speech of the Thessaloniki International Fair, to be delivered by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday, is of much interest to anyone but political editors and commentators. This speech, delivered at the same time every year by the prime minister, is supposed to set out the government’s economic policy for the year ahead as well as revealing forthcoming reforms and announcing changes to salaries and benefits, especially for the lowest social groups. In the past, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, the prime minister’s proclamations at the annual trade fair had some significance as they were generally related to salary rises, benefits or improvements in the social welfare sector as well as measures of interest to entrepreneurs, offering them motives for expanding their businesses or removing obstacles in the process. The fact that the announcements made at the annual fair roughly coincided with the drafting and submission of the annual budget ensured that the prime minister’s keynote speech at the event was regarded as an introduction to the general philosophy of the economic policy for the year ahead. With the passage of time, however, the trade fair started losing its significance. Concrete ideas for changes to social welfare reforms have been downgraded to «spin,» guidelines for budgets have been shifted in due course, and pledges have so rarely been fulfilled that there is little cause for us to expect anything different from this year’s speech…