Op-Ed/The repositioning of our economic policy

Op-Ed/The repositioning of our economic policy

Athens, September 24, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Antonis A. Antoniou, Phd of Economic History at Paris 1 – Sorbonne University

Our country is experiencing one of the most acute economic crises in the last one hundred years of world history. Despite our long economic subsidence, serious analyses of potential relief channels or outlets have not surfaced. The dominant trend is for the Greek people to be whipped or self-whipped with derogatory characterizations. Now how is it possible for Japan from a perennial economic crisis with a totally different mindset and work culture from Greece, none of the abusers of the Greek people can explain.

Today, following the election times demand more than even before the repositioning of our economic policy. Since the industrial revolution, all developed countries sought to strengthen their production and this continues today. Greece, however, remains a paradise for importers. Since the financial crisis,problems intensified and all activities are, or tend to be, loss-making. We are in a downward vortex which leads us to rock-bottom. Those involved in economic ministries either don’t have the abilities or don’t want or are not allowed to enhance economic activity in the country. How could it be that carriers from neighboring countries, especially in northern Greece, are becoming more and more prevalent due to their lower cost? Road tax for trucks should be zero and as a counter measure road tax for new tax should have been imposed on all cars even if those with non-polluting technology. How is it possible to impose taxes and insurance contributions on farmers that cannot be collected?Imposing prohibitive and restrictive conditions on breeding pet animals while conditions under which pets are bred in Hungary – from where they are mainly imported – are left unchecked?  Imposing strict rules on the existence of livestock in small non-tourist villages?

The self-evident, that tourism is the only activity that can quickly halt or even reverse our downward spiral is ignored and underestimated. The positive growth of tourism is more attributed to the situation in many neighboring countries rather than the organized effort of the Greek leadership. It is absurd for Spain to have over seventy million tourists and Greece being unable to double its tourists. The beaches of our country are numerous and unbeatable. Each island is a strongly diversified microcosm. We ought to be by far the first tourist power in the Mediterranean.

Another key factor of our financial nightmare is tax avoidance and evasion, which is deeply rooted in the culture of the ruling class of the country. The tax collection mechanism continues to run in the old, traditional way. It doesn’t essentially clamp down on tax evasion it penalizes whoever is trapped in its net based on a formalistic commitment. The supervisory authorities should be focused on collection of VAT, as the certification of other taxes, is usually associated with the certificate of VAT. They need to target major tax cases, not only because they are more efficient in taxes, but because the big tax evaders are role-models for the smaller evaders. It is known that the lower social classes mimic the superior. Care should be taken with a relevant regulation so that due to exceptional budgetary needs cases of a large financial interest could be of absolute priority in court. This way, large, stagnant cases for many years would cease to exist and taxes would be collected. With the same tax legislation due to emergency financial need the state could get rid of useless buildings the state has leased for many years paying huge amounts in rent.

If we add to the lack of support of production and widespread tax evasion the vise created for public finances by excessive militaryspending andthe enormouscostsofservicingpublic debtthen we haveabasic outline of our budgetary drama.

Syriza’s short stint in government succeeded in somewhat alleviating financially troubled strata but failed, perhaps to some extent justifiably, to createfavorable conditionsfor economic activity. We need aneconomic team that will passionately and creatively apply measures supportive of economic activity, prosecuting tax evasion and reducing costs paid abroad.