OPINION

Better ways to woo voters

Economic data released yesterday by the Economy Ministry is certainly cause for optimism. According to the figures, Greece’s gross domestic product, or GDP, in 2005 rose by 3.7 percent, which was among the biggest hikes in the eurozone. This is an important accomplishment, as last year compares favorably with 2004, a year that saw the construction of many Olympics-related projects. The upbeat figures defeated the grim predictions by pessimistic or opportunistic pundits who forecast a meltdown of the Greek economy after the Games. Another encouraging sign is the increase in tax revenues. Tax revenues in January and February jumped by 16.4 percent – far above the projected 6.5 percent target. Even more welcome was an increase in public revenues from the collection of VAT, which hovered at near 21 percent. The rise in tax revenues for a fourth consecutive month, at a rate that exceeds the budget target, is also a measure of the government’s success at fighting tax dodging – a very promising achievement that is also a sign of social justice. These are positive trends that tend to be consolidated. They indicate that the economy is on an upswing. Note that the deficit revision conducted by the conservative government has tilted the economy away from the virtual reality fabricated by the Socialist governments of Costas Simitis. The encouraging signs are more important since they are based on genuine figures. Now that PASOK’s fatalist theories have been disproved, the opposition leadership should change its tune. It would be of great service to the country in a crucial period should George Papandreou and his Socialist party shed the sterile negativism of late. PASOK’s leader knows that blanket rejection is unpopular even among the top Socialist cadres that have in the past held the Economy portfolio. It’s time PASOK officials finally showed due responsibility. There are better ways to woo voters.