Mitsotakis Says Structural Reforms Key to Greek Rebound

FILE - New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a Chamber of Commerce event, Nov. 28, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Stelios Misinas)

ATHENS – With three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($370.17 billion) having ended after 8 ½ years, Greece needs substantial structural reforms to recover and bring back spooked investors, major rival New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

In an interview with The Financial times, he disputed Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’ claims a recovery is already underway although Greece is surviving on 22-billion euros ($24.98 billion) left over from a third bailout in 2015 of 86 billion euros ($97.65 billion) from the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM).

“It’s not just a question of consolidating fiscal policy because, if anything, fiscal policy has been too tight. It is also a question of really believing in implementing structural reforms, making Greece more competitive, changing the overall business climate, bringing in significant amounts of foreign investment but also mobilizing domestic investment,” Mitsotakis told the FT.

With his party holding big leads in surveys as an election year approaches, he said if he wins that he would quickly okay two stalled major projects that SYRIZA has held up, including the $8 billion development of the old Hellenikon International Airport and a gold mine project in northern Greece being fought ferociously by the Leftists and environmentalists.

That came after he told the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce he wants radical tax reform after Tsipras imposed an avalanche of tax hikes and raised the corporate rate to 29 percent to satisfy the Troika, breaking anti-austerity campaign promises.

Mitsotakis said he’d reverse the current social security framework for self-employed professionals, professional farmers and other groups, create a “white registrar” of businesses in the country with high credit-worthiness and ask banks to provide more favorable lending terms, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.