Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

How is it possible for Greece to avoid bankruptcy?

Andreas Papandreou turned demagoguery into a science

By Loucas Charalambous

HAVING celebrated his election triumph and formed a government, new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his finance minister began touring European countries with the aim of discussing ways of saving the Greek economy from bankruptcy. But can Greece’s economy be saved?

Let us just look at the numbers, which were posted on a business website and offer a very bleak picture. On Wednesday afternoon, that national debt of the country was close to €423 billion ($482bn). To this amount, every minute an interest of €57,360 is added, every hour €3,742,704, every day €82,624,910 and every year €30,158,092,164.

On the same day, this debt was 215.97 per cent of the country’s GDP. If we wanted to wrap the earth with a tape made of one dollar notes, the dollars owed by Greece would go round the earth 1,872 times. If we piled them on top of each other the height would be 52,531 kilometres, which is 0.15 per cent of the distance that separates the earth from the moon.

Greece’s budget for 2015 envisages revenue of €55.3bn and a primary surplus (revenue minus expenditure, before the public debt is paid) of €5.6bn. So Greece, if these forecasts are correct, would only be able to pay a sixth of the interest on its debt. Consequently, the debt would not be reduced but continue increasing geometrically.

Whoever tells Greeks that their country can be spared from complete bankruptcy, without its lenders writing off a big part of Greece’s debt, is taking them for a ride, whether he is called Antonis Samaras or Alexis Tsipras.

There is no doubt that, without anything unexpected happening, the country will be led to bankruptcy and its people will experience unprecedented suffering for many years before things improve. This brings us to another question. How and why is Greece in such a predicament?

The answer is obvious. Greece was destroyed by its demagogue politicians, in the same way that our demagogue politicians bankrupted Cyprus.

A journalist by the name of Pericles Vasilopoulos, who had been in charge of the press office of Xenophon Zolotas when the latter served as interim prime minister for a few months in 1989-90, wrote in an article some six weeks ago what Zolotas had prophetically told him.

On January 3, 1990, Zolotas, who at the time had saved the country from economic collapse, said the following about the leaders of the two main parties Constantinos Mitsotakis (New Democracy) and Andreas Papandreou (PASOK):

“They are good people as individuals. But with their parties they have become thieves of the state plundering its spoils alternately. Remember this: these two, in five, 10 or perhaps a few more years will bankrupt Greece.”

Mitsotakis was in power for only three years after this forecast. The plundering of the spoils and the road towards bankruptcy was continued mainly by Andreas Papandreou who turned demagoguery into a science, giving pensions to people aged 33 and 35 in exchange for votes.

But none of the politicians or journalists that are today praising Tsipras for not wearing a tie and Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis for dropping an ‘n’ from his name, speaks about this plundering of the spoils of power that threw the country into the abyss.

This is because in the plundering of the state through the mass appointments in the public sector, the scandalous pensions, the provocative allowances ‘for punctuality’ and everything else, everyone took part – the politicians, the journalists and half the population of the country.

And this is why today they blame Angela Merkel and the Troika instead of their own recklessness and their never-ending feasting at the expense of the state which created the €423bn national debt. With this figure increasing by the day, how is it possible for Greece to avoid bankruptcy?



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