Productivity expresses how efficiently and effectively resources (capital, labour, entrepreneurship, technology) are used to produce goods and services. This definition applies both at a) the level of business-household and b) the level of business sectors or government entities. At the business-household level, productivity is easy to establish, because effective management is immediately ascertainable and can be determined by simple observation. At the sectoral level, the observations are relatively more difficult to establish, but again, through the multi-information that is characteristic of our times, reliable findings can be made.
At the third and last level, the state level, productivity results from effective management in the areas of state activity (mainly public finance, defence and security, public health and public education). At this level, the initial findings are relatively easy, as they are derived from the opinion of the direct beneficiaries, i.e., the citizens, through the electoral process. However, at this level, because of its large size, the many conflicting or hidden interests and the many methods of deception that can be deployed, it is often the case that the data is false and misleading and does not correspond to real facts. The state of bankruptcy Greece found itself in over the past decade is irrefutable proof of this. The main cause of the apparent and false prosperity, as it was finally revealed, was not the increased productivity of the state administration, but the concealment and the methodical downplaying of the country’s extensive borrowing and its consequences on the finances of its citizens.
It can be seen, from the course of public finances especially in the last five years, that state administrations and the general management of the national economy are going through an honest and effective phase, with productivity being the compass for the formulation of individual policy proposals in the management of all sectors. This is a comforting fact that can lead to a first conclusion that for the general economic development of the country, the content of the concept of “productivity” could be a dominant factor in the sphere of economic activity at the family and business level; from these two levels it can then be passed on in a generalized form to the third level, the state development priorities and the legislative regulations that will give them elements of timelessness.
As we attempt a more specific approach to the sensitive economic data of the country, our attention focuses on the negative trade balance and the soaring trade deficit recorded in 2022, which climbed to a 14-year record level, despite the impressive rise in exports, which were nevertheless outstripped by imports. A brief look at these figures leads to the conclusion that there is indeed an improvement in the productivity of the goods manufactured in the country, as reflected by the significant increase in exports, but the higher increase in the value of imported goods is a warning bell of the risk of creating a permanent economic imbalance. These findings, in the final analysis, prove that our country is lagging behind in the industrial sector, especially in the field of processing raw materials through vertical integration of production up to the final product to be used. By improving productivity in the industrial sector in this way, many of the imported products can be substituted by domestically produced ones, thus improvinge the trade balance. Certainly, the promotion of this objective will need to be based on the improvement of productivity (labour, capital, entrepreneurship, technological applications) and its positive consequences will be reflected in employment, return on capital and even an increase in government revenues, which will be available for broader social purposes.
The search for a living model that had shaped high productivity at the first level (family-microenterprise) leads to the way the family economy and microenterprises operated in Mani for many centuries until the 1980s. The difficulties in maximising the performance of small farm properties due to the infertile soil were addressed by making full use of all available means: the continuous cultivation of fields alternatively with cereals and legumes; the enhancement of soil performance by recycling animal waste; the mutual exchange of working animals for farm work (ploughing, threshing, transport); the collective mobilisation of labour for oil harvesting; generalised domestic livestock farming for the production and consumption of livestock products that were sufficient for family needs and usually in surplus. Even more so, by making use of the seasonally surplus workforce, securing wages for agricultural work in the richer neighbouring areas of Messinia and Laconia. In the Maniot economy, concepts of quality of life that appear with intensity in our days, such as the protection of the environment from extraordinary weather phenomena (with automatic generalised mobilisation of all available means to deal with fires and floods) and minimisation of the volume of waste (with total recycling of all by-products of agricultural and livestock production) were integrated into everyday life and their application was self-evident. Thus, the increase in productivity (of land, labour, available farming resources) was combined with the quality of life, which is still a concern in our time…
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