Peering into the crystal ball

by Antonis D. Papagiannidis

The expectation/promise that the Recovery and Resilience Facility would reboot the Greek economy has caused a thicket of debates to spring up. Most have to do with the how and when of initiatives to be undertaken (and funded…) under the RRF. Quite recently, a workshop set up to the Karamanlis Institute for Democracy has brought together representatives of main sectors of the economy that vie for RRF favour; since the Karamanlis Institute is close to the governing party in 2021 Greece, a closer look is more than justified.

Speaking on behalf of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises – that is, of the main representative body for Greek industry – Michael Mitsopoulos said that industry will serve as the catalyst for any development effort undertaken in the Greek economy, post-Covid. Thus, priority actions should be undertaken so as to ameliorate spatial planning and authorization procedures that have been an inhibiting factor; even more so, the administration of justice should be given priority since its malfunctions are cause for concern to investment decisions.

From a more regional vantage point Athanasios Savvakis, President of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries, said that support to such an export-oriented activity should be prioritized so as to ameliorate the competitive position of the overall Greek economy and operate as a pull factor for investments. He presented the opportunities offered by the new innovation centre in Thessaloniki – Thess Tech – that brings about the promise of cohabitation and closer collaboration of public – and private – sector research, to the benefit of production processes.

Yannis Retsos, President of the Association of Tourist Entreprises, expressed the hope that, once one more difficult year – 2021 – will be a thing of the past, “a golden decade will be here” for the tourist sector. Initiatives should be undertaken to upgrade the tourist product offered by Greece: the seafront of the Athens Riviera, conference facilities in the capital city and its adjoining region, as well as transport infrastructure merit the attention of the authorities. Around-the-year, sustainable tourism should be tried in established Greek tourist destinations, such as Rhodes.

Michael Arghyrou, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explained that the focal point of the Greek blueprint for use of RRF loans aims to bring forward private investment in a matching-funds mode. The major aim if for Greece to fill the investment gap of last years, a gap 70% caused due to private sector lagging investment. RRF funding will also go to public-sector initiatives, all the while exploring the potential of a PPP approach.

Workshop moderator Theodore Pelagidis, Vice -Governor of the Bank of Greece, called for the integration of investment decisions to a holistic approach, combining sectors and financing instruments so as to attain an economic and social optimum.

Is such peering into the crystal ball enough to get a clear view of the future – near and mid-range? Not get, but some kind of maturation process seems to be underway.