HOW REASSURING it was to read Sunday’s article by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades about the lessons we should have learnt from the meltdown of the economy. Someone had to bring up the subject of how our politicians and bankers had led the economy to collapse, in the hope that the same mistakes will not be repeated, especially as the troika will stop monitoring us from March and we will be free to run our affairs as we choose to.
The sad thing is that it is doubtful the lessons Georgiades listed in his article, despite being very easy and straightforward, have been learnt by our politicians. Even when we were still in the assistance programme, the demagogues of the parties were demanding that money we did not have was spent on development; they delayed the approval of the foreclosures bill for months and on countless occasions urged the government to ignore the troika.
One of the main accusations against the government during the assistance programmes was that it was the ‘obedient servant’ of the troika. All the parties, with the notable exception of DISY, urged it to stand up to the lenders and take a tougher stance in negotiations. Some even praised the tough stance taken by the Tsipras government in its disastrous dealings with the lenders to disparage the government’s ‘servility’. The government, thankfully, ignored the cheap populism of the parties and maintained its ‘servility’ for the good of the country.
The parties will never learn anything because they always put the party interest above that of the country. Did they really need a lesson to realise that when a state’s expenditure is substantially more than its revenue on a consistent basis, bankruptcy is inevitable? Did they really need a lesson to understand that doing nothing about worsening economic indicators would lead the economy to disaster? Had it never dawned on them that “easy and rapid enrichment is not a healthy model for development”?
It is no coincidence that only Georgiades has dared to talk about the lessons we should have learnt from the crisis. The rest of the politicians just blame the banks, which admittedly had a big share of the responsibility, for everything and completely ignore the disastrous role played over the years by their own and their parties’ populism that has always involved crude vote-buying with the taxpayer’s money.
This is why we doubt any politician has learnt the lessons Georgiades wrote about in his article.