Economy on more favorable course

The truth is that we did not need a decision by the European Union’s Council of Finance Ministers (Ecofin) to find out the true state of the country’s public finances. However, as often happens in Greek politics, the stamp of the EU lends credibility to what is already obvious. The exchange of fire between the two main political parties over the need for the financial audit is nothing more than just another skirmish, and with no political benefits. The simple truth is that the national economy is up to its neck in deficits. Even PASOK voters have now realized that the Simitis government’s claims of a «strong economy» were nothing more than propaganda. In Greece’s case it was not the usual creative accounting resorted to in other EU member states. The government at the time brandished a «magical image,» and so in that sense a Dutch minister’s comment that they found skeletons in every closet is well-founded. As it appears, the Karamanlis government’s decision to carry out the audit was not only a way of recording the true situation, but indirectly a way of making a commitment, since it was almost inevitable that the EU would decide to monitor the Greek economy. Official figures show that within a year (by the end of 2005) the deficit fell from 6.6 to 4.3 percent of GNP. All 25 EU finance ministers saw yesterday that so far the budget is being adhered to and that perhaps by the end of the year the deficit will have fallen to below 3 percent, which is the desired target. Most importantly, Ecofin’s decision put the political seal of approval on the way public finances are going. It was a vote of confidence in the way the Karamanlis government has been handling the problem and improving the Greek economy. In that sense it has strengthened the country’s image abroad, indirectly facilitating the inflow of foreign investments. PASOK’s criticism of the government does no service the country or to itself. Rhetoric does not lead to credibility. Even the best propaganda has its limits.