Two hundred years after the revolution of 1821, our country is once again entering into conditions of uncertainty and insecurity similar to those that prevailed during the long submission to the Ottomans. The new coronavirus not only hinders the organisation of anniversary events which require large public participation, but also undermines the psychology of the citizens and their financial stability because of the uncertainty about how much longer the pandemic is going to last. However, just as during the independence struggle we had the obligation to fight, taking into account all the details of the events that ocurred on the battlefields, so in the current conditions we have the obligation to evaluate all the data available, so that we can minimise the individual and societal risks from the coronavirus and its many mutations. Especially we, Maniots, descendants of the heroic warriors of that period, we have the obligation to show the same effectiveness as they did in fighting all kinds of dangers, under the present conditions.
The pandemic and the many measures undertaken for the public’s health protection, have caused a severe slow down in economic activities, thus creating large government deficits. Responding to its social mission, the state, despite the reduction of its revenues due to the sharp reduction of economic activity, has tried to provide subsidies to companies and large groups of citizens, so that, as much as possible, businesses and employment are kept at pre-pandemic levels. This complex landscape, due to the uncertainty in the evolution of the pandemic, creates the need for elaborate prohibitive measures for the present as well as the foreseeable future. This need is becoming even more urgent because our country had already been in a bad debt situation even at the beginning of the pandemic a year ago. The increase of the public debt to twice the gross national product (GNP), in combination with the repayment plan of reduced installments only until 2032, require measures based on foresight, sound decisions regarding the distribution of subsidies and maintaining significant monetary stocks in order to deal with unforeseen situations. The risks of a new financial crisis after the pandemic remain high.
In order to address all these risks, our partners in the European Union have implemented different strategies. For example, in Italy there was a government crisis due to its policy of diverting a significant part of the money owed to the Recovery Fund towards repaying the country's high debt (it must be mentioned that their debt is much lower than ours…), while in Great Britain the super-conservative government decided to pay the government deficit, which was created by implementing measures to support those affected by the economic crisis, by taxing the rich! Our government has decided that the revenue from the Recovery Fund be directed to projects and actions that aim to modernise the development of the economy in order to, through the attraction of private investment, achieve high economic growth rates. This approach was chosen because it is believed that it will lead to increased government revenue, thus making it possible to meet our high debt obligations without imposing new taxation.
Of course, the efficiency of all measures is judged by positive results, which, however, cannot be foreseen. This effectiveness can be achieved through the thorough adherence to the implementation design in the stages of development and through the strict observance of intermediate deadlines. We will be able to judge the effectiveness of our country’s program after its final approval, which is expected in the coming months. Until then, however, we have an obligation to draw attention to the long-existing tendency for fraud and corruption that prevails in several strata of the Greek society, both in the private and in the public sector. We have already observed this tendency even at the present preliminary stage of implementation: there have been twice as many applicants for subsidies as those entitled! This makes us suspect that there has been long-term concealment of assets and tax evasion.
Let us hope that the mechanisms for allocating the Recovery Fund resources aimed at overcoming the effects of the pandemic and advancing our economy, will be strengthened by the appropriate measures to eliminate wide-spread corruption. The ordinary citizens should follow these developments, which so far have been directly related to the preservation of the positive measures already taken by the government.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD