Increasing employment and shifting the economic model toward the production of high added-value goods and services will be the central focus of Greece’s growth strategy leading up to 2021, the Ministry of Economy and Development’s Expert Committee of the Growth Council indicated after its first session on Friday, March 10. The newly appointed committee members include Levy Economics Institute’s Jan Kregel (as President), Athens University Political Economy Professor Nicholas Theocarakis, UCL Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Babraham Institute”s Nikolaos Ktistakis, Mike Romanos (Microbiotica Ltd), Lefteris Tsoulfidis (University of Macedonia), Thomas Moutos (Athens University of Economics and Business), Costis Vaitsos (Professor Emeritus, University of Athens), George Petrakos (University of Thessaly) and Gerasimos Zacharatos (General Secretary of Tourism).

Minister of Economy and Development Dimitri Papadimiriou presented a 190-page document outlining Greece’s “National Growth Strategy 2021”.  The plan, while including important elements such as reforms and privatisations as means for attracting foreign investments, debt settlement and avoiding excessive surpluses, is chiefly structured on three fundamental and interacting directions:

  • Shifing the production model towards knowledge economy in order to perserve the country’s comparative advantage of a highly-skilled human workforce and to counteract current trends forcing the most highly skilled young people to seek work abroad.
  • Closely coordinated and cohesive planning and effective implementation of policies relating to development and growth,
  • Reducing social and regional inequalities.

More spefically, the National Growth Strategy aims at:

  • Reducing of unemployment by 10% in three years, through guaranteed employment programs for unemployed, costing a 1.5% of GDP, with the state operating as an “employer of last resort”, proposed policies to alleviate unemployment, both short-term and long-term, such as community work, policies for the return of Greek scientists from abroad and others, to be implemented alongisde existing employment policies.
  • Financing small and medium-sized enterprises via micro-loans ranging from 5,000-20,000 euros, using various financial instruments, special investment loans either in the form profit participating loans or as convertible bonds to develop products or services,establisment of a Guarantee Fund to accelerate lending process, development of new insurance tools to support exports.
  • Promoting Public–private partnerships (PPPs) as a vehicle for implementing development projects. The activation of new financial tool for Sustainable Development and PPP Infrastructures, modeled on JESSICA, along with private and other resources, will finance an  investment plan of EUR 1 billion Euros which will cover small and medium projects for sustainable development and infrastructure.
  • Utilizing state property, meanwhile, via: establishing a body to implement, coordinate and monitor state property assets; selecting the real estate to be immediately put to use, through privatisations, private-public partnerships or under state control; creating a full register of state property on a single database; and rationalising laws on cooperatives, the transfer of bankrupt or abandoned businesses to employee cooperatives and mixed ownership and operation formations.
  • Managing the issue of non-performing loans: a bill is proposed that exempts senior bank executives and public-sector officials from prosecution, tax incentives for restructuring loans, the write-off of loans and a real estate register for the publication of their purchase prices.

Τhe plan noted the major changes and reforms that have been carried out in Greece, saying that significant investment opportunities were re-emerging after a long period of disinvestment. The strategy will seek to exploit and encourage an overall change in culture in Greek society, the plan said, noting a more “mature and demanding” attitude in Greek society to consumption, relations with the state and political system and awareness of the problems caused by both public and private debt.

The ‘National Growth Strategy 2021’ aims to complement the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy 2015-2018 and the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2014-2020, the document said.