Improving the quality of education, ensuring the broad-based participation of all its citizens in real employment, cutting red tape for new businesses and doing away with corruption, should be top priorities if Greece ever wants to recover from its current “economic malaise”, according to Jennifer Blanke, Chief Economist at the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Under the title “The 3 Competitive Weaknesses Greece Needs to Address”, Ms Blanke refers to competitiveness, productivity and social inclusion, and writes about long-term growth-enhancing reforms needed for there to be any sort of recovery “in its fortunes”.
Ms Blanke underlines that though the prospect of a Greek exit from the eurozone and the EU “remains a possible, if not desirable, scenario”, the World Economic Forum’s research indicates reason for “cautious optimism”.
She cites a 2014 Global Competitiveness Report that found Greece was making measurable improvements in the functioning of its goods and labour markets as well as upgrading its business environment and moving towards the liberalization of professions thus injecting competition into markets and making them work better. The report additionally revealed that Greece was also getting its macroeconomic issues in order, which include raising the retirement age and reforming the civil service.
But Ms Blanke continues that “just as these actions were starting to bear fruit” with Greece rising by 10 spots in the report’s ranking and finally returning to growth after years of recession, “since the beginning of the year, Greece has been rolling back reforms, halting privatizations and reintroducing barriers to efficiency”… harming its long-term economic prospects.
The WEF’s chief economist cites “short-term thinking”, people being forced into vulnerable employment or the informal sector, Greece ranking 30th out of the 30 countries for the quality of education, and corruption in both the public and private sectors taking a toll, with Greece ranking 28th for business and political ethics. At the same time, the World Bank ranks Greece 28th for new business creation, last when it comes to the burden of starting a new business.