The conclusion of the second review of the Greek bailout program has been coupled with positive news for the domestic economy. Solid fiscal performance, steady decrease of unemployment rate, i.e. from 27% to 21%, a roadmap for mid-term debt relief measures, and the inclusion of a growth clause that will adjust the level of debt repayments in the coming years.
These developments along with the proposal of the European Commission to end Greece’s inclusion in the excessive deficit procedure after eight years – i.e. as a result of extensive political and economic mismanagement by the previous governments led ND and PASOK parties – are bolstering the prospects for successful access to the capital markets.
There is absolutely no reason to celebrate, but there is a reason to underline the fact that should the previous governments have developed a proper economic policy program, already before 2009, we would have not be forced to enter into rescue programs and have the Greek people suffered during these years.
Since 2015, the Syriza government has been putting its forces together to address the financial crisis and reinstate economic normality and stability. To that end, a lot of work has to be done, although the government needs to improve its efficiency, broaden the dialogue with the citizens and the social actors, accelerate the implementation of the reform program and attract long-term investments.
One of the top priorities is the creation of a new production model that will be decentralised, focusing on the comparative advantages of local economies. For that we need successful communication and policy channels with the local communities, to avoid the wrongdoings of the previous governments, to leave aside the ‘big words and promises’, and address the big challenges we are actually facing.
Tourism is one of our sound, labour-intensive industries. Arrivals are surging, but we also need to emphasise on the diversification of the market and to further increase ties with emerging markets. In the meantime, it is of utmost importance to improve tax collection mechanisms in the islands, increase income, and steadily improve the labour market. This will, therefore, lead to tax incentives and a better fiscal planning that will further increase public spending towards improving social cohesion standards.
After many years of recession and uncertainty, Greece is entering into a growth and stability phase. We need to keep up the good work and build on what we have started to do couple of years ago. We need to improve the public sector, turn education into a tool of social and cultural development, make the healthcare sector more productive, increase the trust of people in public services and enhance the extrovert character of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In this context, and considering the fact that we are approaching to the end of the bailout program next year, a domestic political debate should focus on the future of the country. Nonetheless, ND and PASOK parties keep developing a stiff argumentation, having nothing to propose in terms of policy planning. Despite the fact that these two political parties have turned Greece into a bankrupt state, they still pushing for the implementation of the same policies that have ruined the economy. As of the PASOK party, it needs to completely reform itself if it wants to continue being part of the social-democratic political family.
The Greek people want to move ahead and overcome the lasting crisis. The progressive political forces can pave the way.