OPINION

Feeble solutions to enduring problems

The current government’s response (as was that of previous administrations) to constant and pressing calls by workers for salary and pension increases is fairly disarming, if one strips it of political and social content: «You can’t take when there is nothing to give.» Governments that, on balancing their books, realize they can only afford to offer «restricted» political solutions are quite justified in doing so; but citizens who see that their daily income is no longer adequate (and recent figures show that 20 percent of Greeks live under the poverty line) are equally justified in their thinking. However, these citizens keep on working – we have reached the point where most feel lucky just to have a job – at a time where all signs point toward a surge of growth, enviable by EU standards. But overall statistics are grim and prospects unfavorable: Greece leads the EU in public debt (which reached 215 million euros last year as compared to 201 million in 2004) and it is going to take an estimated 60 percent of the state’s net revenue to finance this debt by the end of this year. In short, we shelled out 9 billion euros in debt repayments to foreign banks while the total revenue received from EU coffers was just 4.5 billion euros. So how can one meet one’s needs and save some cash for income and social welfare policies? This question is especially pressing at a time when our constantly growing deficit proves that the Greek economy is in no position to produce goods and services of sufficient quantity and quality to fulfill the needs of the public, which forces the country to resort to mass imports. Moreover, our failure to boost the economy and our levels of competitiveness comes despite the massive state funding and investments of EU cash over the past 25 years.