OPINION

Costas Simitis’s ‘achievement’

While former prime minister Costas Simitis was at the Benaki Museum explaining that he wrote his 700-page book to promote his eight-year achievement which, he boasted, he does not owe to anyone else, Parliament was discussing whether to approve the fiscal reports for 2003. That was the year that, as Simitis admits, he received the first negative and worrying opinion polls about himself and his officials. What happened to the economy that year? It was when the bubble of the strong economy burst, that myth so skillfully woven by entangled interests and help of media cronies in order to support Simitis’s fixation. Having declared that New Democracy would vote to approve the financial report because it has a constitutional duty and the state continuity to think of, Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas went on to enumerate overwhelming statistics that show the fiscal derailment the economy has since undergone. For instance, Doukas said that while the budget had been approved by Parliament with a projected deficit of 0.9 percent of GDP, the deficit eventually came to 5.7 percent. And while loans were budgeted at 26.9 billion euros, the economy minister of the time arranged loans of 37.8 billion. In other words, the loans were greater than total tax revenues, which were only 34.5 billion against the projected 35.4 billion, while expenditures rose to 35.2 billion against the projected 30.4 billion, and public debt was 171 billion compared with the predicted 165 billion. Whether Simitis likes it or not, this is part of his achievement, which is paid for by the public in higher taxes and prices and low wages. Since both the economy and the state have continuity regardless of which party is in power, yesterday’s debts and deficits will be paid not only tomorrow but for years to come.