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The Restructuring of the Greek Economy -- Achievements and Targets

Published by Huffington Post on Fri, 19 Dec 2014

Greece, after six years of a deep and prolonged recession, has restored its public finances, has tackled its high "twin" fiscal and external deficits, is returning to positive growth rates, and is planning the "day after" for its economy. Evidently, this is the result of the unprecedented sacrifices of the Greek society to achieve the painful, albeit necessary, fiscal consolidation.In particular:1. Greece is recording significant primary surpluses. Indeed, the country demonstrates, by far, the highest cyclically-adjusted primary balance among its European counterparts, as measured by the IMF and the European Commission. 2. Greece is returning to growth. This already happened for three consecutive quarters this year, making the growth rate estimation for 2014, if not conservative, in any case very realistic. 3. Unemployment, at a slow but steady pace, is decreasing.However, it still stands at high levels, especially regarding long-term and youth unemployment.4. The economy is rebalancing. Greece is generating current account surpluses. Competitiveness is strengthening, as it is also confirmed by the improved ranking in all indicators produced by international organizations. 5. The economic sentiment has improved. The corresponding indicator rebounded and stands at its highest level over the last 4 years. After the successful ECB-conducted stress-tests, recovery prospects are further strengthened and recently recapitalized banks can re-engage in proper financing to support economic growth.6. Public debt sustainability has been reinforced. The debt servicing burden has fallen markedly. Moreover, European partners have committed to provide further debt relief, possibly in terms of re-financing risk, if primary balance targets are met. As it is the case today.However, it is true that sustainable fiscal adjustment and discipline, although necessary, is not, by itself, a sufficient condition for economic growth and social welfare. Thus, a re-evaluation of European economic policies and priorities is needed.But also Greece, as a country, needs to plan the "day after" for its economy and transform the current stabilization of the economy into sustainable growth, with social cohesion. This is the new challenge for the country. In this direction we are working towards adopting and implementing a realistic economic policy strategy. Its priorities comprise:1. The gradual reduction of the tax burden. We must intensify our efforts in this direction, by further focusing on combating the "shadow economy", broadening the tax base, strengthening the revenue administration, enhancing transparency and simplifying procedures.2. The achievement of sustainable primary surpluses. These surpluses will be stemming, mainly, from controlling expenditure, the growth of the economy's output and the fight against "shadow economy" and tax evasion. This policy is economically more efficient and sustainable, and socially fairer.3. The qualitative improvement of public finances. This will be achieved by increasing the efficiency of financial resources with a high multiplying effect in a number of fields that promote economic growth and create a significant social "dividend". 4. The efficiency enhancement of social spending. With targeted social policy initiatives, such as ensuring health care for vulnerable groups and introducing the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) project, through its pilot launching in various regions of the country.5. Public administration reform. Already, in the public sector, the number of civil servants has declined by close to 25% since 2009.We are now shifting from "quantitative" targets towards facing bureaucracy, achieving a more efficient allocation of public resources and providing better public services.6. The redistribution among the main GDP components concentrating on investments and exports through the acceleration of product and services market reforms.Greece's valuable comparative advantages in important sectors of the economy will contribute substantially to the transition towards an outward-looking economy.7. The faster absorption of EU funds to boost investment in the short term. The National Strategic Reference Framework funds' absorption rate currently stands at 86%. While Greece will receive, in advance, significant amounts from the new financial framework for mature projects.The new Framework introduces, for the first time, the dimension of sectoral targeting and also includes provisions for multi-fund and multi-sector financing.Thus, EUR 12 billion will be available in 2015.8. The intensive implementation of the privatization program and the development of public real estate property. More than 30 privatizations have either been completed or been put on track. More than 3,000 properties have been pre-selected for development.9. Credit expansion through the banking sector. As a country with a bank-oriented economy, our strategy is to safeguard the stability, robustness and capital adequacy of the banking sector. This has been achieved through the sufficient and timely recapitalization of the banking sector. Therefore, banks must respond to their intermediation role by providing the necessary liquidity to the real economy.Greece has gone a long way: fiscal position is robust and sustainable, recently adopted structural reforms are deep, far-reaching and credible, bank recapitalization has been completed, economic prospects are bearing potential, sectoral and geographic competitive advantages are significant, the investment environment and climate have improved.The Greek economy gradually passes to the virtuous circle of prosperity for all citizens.
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