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Economy

Mitsotakis’ 2.0 Vision for Greece’s Post-Pandemic Fiscal Recovery

ATHENS – While many may feel COVID-19 makes the world feel like it’s on the road to perdition, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government has worked up a hoped-for road to recovery, at least financially.

The so-called National Recovery and Resilience Plan, called Greece 2.0, envisions how the country can come back when, or if, the pandemic ends, even as cases, deaths and people in critical condition are still rising.

Almost five months into a second lockdown that began Nov. 7, 2020 and perhaps thousands of non-essential businesses likely not to survive even when it’s lifted, Mitsotakis unveiled a 57-billion euro ($66.93 billion) scheme of170 projects, investments and reforms optimistically said to increase growth by 7 percent over six years, after the economy has shrunk some 9 percent or more.

The turnaround, including growth outside the plan’s incentives, would also create 200,000 jobs he said and will bring a “paradigm shift around a more outward-looking economy and a growth-inducing tax system.”

There were few details how it would be achieved or if it includes further aid to the country’s battered businesses, especially restaurants, bars, taverns, caterers and a food sector under siege by lockdowns.

It does include, said Kathimerini in a report, an energy upgrade of the country’s building stock with state subsidies, modernizing professional education and training, and further digitization.

One of the keys is a fifth generation (5G) mobile network on highways and the digital interconnection of islands, urban renovations such as those at Elaionas and Tatoi in Attica, and digitalization of the state’s archives.

But not included would be construction of highways, except for a road across northern Crete and the E65 highway in central Greece, the overall plan financed by 18.2 billion euros ($21.37 billion) from the Next Generation European Union fund and 12.7 billion euros ($14.91 billion) in EU loans.

“This constitutes a fundamental economic and social transformation,” the government statement said, based on four main pillars, in accordance with the guidelines of the European Commission, environment, digital, employment and economic transformation, with few specifics.

"The National Plan has a groundbreaking character, because it changes the model to create an open economy and a tax system that is friendly to growth and always focused on the future," the prime minister said, adding: "Hence its name, Greece 2.0. The National Plan seeks to create many new and well-paid jobs. However, together with the resources of the plan, private citizens are invited to add their own funds, taking the associated risk," Mitsotakis noted.

"The National Recovery Plan creates a new daily life for all citizens," he added.

"It doesn't only include financing and actions, but it signals a break with established perceptions that prevent our economy from taking off. It is a real national plan that is based on the priorities of the Pissaridis report," the prime minister said. He stressed that its directions were drawn up by Greeks and for Greeks, that they concerned Greece, and that the Greek government therefore had "full ownership" of the plan. "It incorporates our experience from the pandemic. It eliminates long-standing problems. The National Plan leads to a fair redistribution of national wealth. The effort that begins today means more jobs, especially for our young people, and a better daily life for everyone," the prime minister added.

"The National Recovery Plan does not concern one government, it concerns the whole country, it is too big to fit into one party," the prime minister said, adding: "It is not limited to [government] terms but stretches over decades. It is therefore an opportunity to build broader consensus. But it is primarily a big bet that we must all win together."

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