Economy Up, But Greek Industrialists SEV Warn Competitiveness Down

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – With Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras boasting he’s brought Greece to recovery – largely by reneging on anti-austerity vows – Greece’s industrialists group said the country is still far from competitive.

The monthly bulletin from the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) economists said Greece can’t compete strongly enough, damaging the country’s chances of growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or reducing unemployment, still the highest in the Euorpean Union despite a marked drop the last few years.

With an election coming this year, the group said Tsipras’ rampage of handouts in a frantic bid to regain favor after falling behind in polls to the major opposition New Democracy will further cut into growth amid fears he will start rolling back reforms agreed with creditors.

According to SEV, the recovery of the Greek economy is taking longer than expected, shown in a productivity slowdown, said Kathimerini, with the group’s analysts recommending a national target that would converge with investment competitiveness of other European Union countries to speed a comeback from nine years of austerity.

For that to happen, SEV said the state needs to continue implementing the agreed reforms, speed the sale of state enterprises, expand the production base, support innovation, stop overtaxing, cut non-salary costs and introduce a competitive framework of energy costs.

The SEV report acknowledged some progress in the aftermath of Greece’s European creditors, who put up an 86 billion euro ($97.3 billion) third bailout in 2015, agreeing to release 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) in profits European banks made in Greek bonds put up as part of 326 billion euros ($368.82 billion) in three rescue packages.

Under SYRIZA, Greece’s competitiveness has tanked to 57th in the world out of 140 countries surveyed after hitting a record low in 2017, two years after the Leftists took power. It was at its best in 2013 under a New Democracy-led coalition even in the midst of the economic crisis still going on.