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Gloomy forecasts for Greece in 2016

22 December 2015 / 22:12:26  GRReporter
2814 reads

Germany showed generosity by receiving a very large number of refugees but this caused serious reactions inside the country. Angela Merkel is being criticized for this decision even by her own party. On the other hand, those countries that are at the core around Germany, namely Poland, Hungary and others have closed their borders.

And here we must note the responsibility of the first government of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (from January to September), which in fact invited these people, implying that Greece's borders were open and the country was a place of reception. Thus, there was the phenomenon of people from Morocco and Tunisia going a long way round to enter Greece instead of moving to Europe via Spain or Italy. In addition, we must not forget that the civil war in Syria started in 2011-2012. But until the beginning of this year, there was no such influx of refugees. This means that a signal has been sent that these people have received and they have begun to arrive in Greece. Someone should be politically accountable for this.

Greek society has suffered a lot over the past year. Incomes have shrunk, taxes have increased, the country is politically and economically unstable. Is society ripe for reforms?

No, not at all. Greek society is not united. It is divided into two - the society of the state sector and the society of the private sector. The latter is in a state of uncertainty, in very difficult conditions and, most importantly, the people who have jobs, whether they have their own business or if they are employees, do not know whether this job will exist the next day or month. While those employed in the public sector are following a common practice - they are protesting and the only thing that is happening is the cutting of their very high salaries by 150-200 euro.

The big problem, however, is pensions and the major "battle" will take place precisely in connection with this issue. They are ‘enclosed’ behind various legal orders and mostly behind the decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court that defined pension cuts as illegal. Currently, the state budget is financing the payment of pensions with 14 billion euro a year, which is threatening the country's economy. Pensions of about 3-4,000 euro are still paid even today. And so as not to affect retirees from state-owned enterprises, state-owned banks, the military and judges the government is now preparing to cut pensions amounting to 800 euro.

Greek society is segmented and its privileged parts do not want to lose their privileges. These people are selfish. For example, a pensioner who receives 1,500 euro per month does not want his or her pension to be cut by 200 euro with which the state could open a job position but prefers to take the money and give it to his or her unemployed grandson/granddaughter.

As I said, the economy of Greece requires a political solution to implement privatizations, and freedom from state intervention. Thus, it will be able to recover within one year. They are not doing this however. I do not mean only the current government but the entire political system.

Of course, it is not only the politicians’ fault but the citizens’ too. When farmers are refusing to pay taxes, pensioners with high pensions are refusing to forfeit a portion of them, and total chaos is reigning in universities that is not irritating university professors, then we are talking about a sick society.

All this is driving young and better-educated people to go abroad to fulfil themselves. In the years to come Greece will be society of old people, devoid of any productive force. The bad thing is that no party is turning to address this problem. Its other side is that the people with the best qualifications and best recommendations are going abroad and the mediocre are staying here. Society and economy are not built that way.

Tags: PoliticsEconomicsGreeceReformsPrivatizationRefugee crisisForecast for 2016Sakis Moumtzis
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