OPINION

So much for the economy

The good thing about the general assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) was that all the speakers, as well as the leaders of the two major political parties, displayed an understanding of our country’s major structural problems. Even better was the fact that all of them noted that these problems must be overcome immediately for the sake of the country’s future. Reality bites back once the eloquent speeches are over, when one gets past the rhetoric and specific measures are called for. Every year SEV’s general assembly resembles a memorial service for the lost opportunities of the Greek economy. Measures and policies that should have been enacted years before are still pending. Increased competitiveness, an effective war on tax evasion, the simplification of procedures for establishing and operating businesses, and effective social policy, among other things, remain in the realm of good intentions. Of course, some progress has been made (such as deregulated working hours and private-public partnerships) but macroeconomic indicators show that these are not enough. The state of the Greek economy requires faster changes, which the Greek people, at every opportunity, have declared that they want. After all, that was the mandate they gave the government two years ago. No changes will meet with the full approval of the entire nation. It is certain that special interest groups and vote-hunting politicians who have invested in them will react. However, these people cannot be a permanent obstacle to growth. Consensus is desirable, but cannot be an excuse for inaction. The government was elected to implement a program and that is what it must do, as quickly as possible.