Today Eurobank EFG organized an event on the “Greek Economy and Stability Program” in Athens. The event is part of a wider initiative undertaken over the last two months by the Group to present the prospects, challenges, opportunities and threats of the Greek economy and the banking system, to international banks, institutional investors, large private clients and the media.
The event, which featured the Minister of Finance, Mr. George Papaconstantinou as guest keynote speaker, was attended by approximately 400 prominent entrepreneurs, the Deputy Minister of Finance Mr. Philippos Sachinidis and the General Secretaries of the Ministry of Finance.
In his speech, Eurobank EFG’s CEO, Mr. Nicholas Nanopoulos said, "The transformation and modernization of an ailing economy will take time and perseverance. The same is required to combat distortions and outdated perceptions. Our main conclusion is that despite intense international controversy and the cultivated climate of alarmism, the effort for fiscal adjustment and structural reforms is feasible and can yield the expected result - even beyond what was originally planned.” Referring to the fiscal policy measures, which he described as positive and effective, he added, "It is thus now time to build on these initial positive results and to turn our attention and actions towards the issue of growth; the type of growth that will lift us out of the crisis and give perspective and vision to Greek citizens. A growth founded on a different model than in the past, based on openness, quality, exploiting the competitive advantages of our country and expanding our production base, and featuring a modern and dynamic private business sector." In conclusion, he stated, "a key requirement is to establish a favourable investment and growth climate, in combination with the stabilization of the economy and the restoration of confidence in its prospects and reliability. If reinforced, over time, reliability and confidence will enable our country and banking system to return to the international markets, thus restoring liquidity to our economy and enhancing its growth potential. All this requires time, and, primarily, consistency between talk and action, as recently evidenced. The will is there, as is a business world, ready to undertake its share of initiatives and responsibilities. The Greek banking system has proven itself both capable and willing to support this growth effort. With respect to the strategic decisions Greek banks are called upon to make, I am certain they will do this at the right time, each taking on its own responsibilities, both towards their internal audience, and towards the economy and society at large. We need to strengthen and further improve the efficiency of the system and restore confidence in the prospects of Greek banks, for the best possible service to citizens.”
In his welcome speech, Eurobank EFG's Deputy CEO, Mr. Nikolaos Karamouzis, stressed, "It is impossible to exit the current crisis without the revival of private investment, both foreign and domestic; without a new path to growth and openness, with set targets and deadlines; without the qualitative improvement of the wider public sector; without a smaller but more efficient state. We need a new growth model, not based on consumption and an inflated public sector, but on the all-round development of economic openness and on the rise in private and foreign investment. We need to follow a bold course, involving drastic changes, policies, and innovative initiatives over and above the stereotypes of the past decades that brought us to the present position, freeing ourselves of the perceptions and attitudes that led the country into this impasse and international vilification.”
In conclusion, Mr. Karamouzis stated that "it is now widely understood that we cannot continue to implement social policies based on borrowing, and that a new virtuous circle of social justice could only result from improved growth and employment and the efficient provision of social wages by the state. We are confident that Greece has the potential to exit the current severe crisis, stronger and with a healthier economy. A prerequisite however is that we all place greater confidence in our country, acting jointly to create the conditions that will allow it to exit the crisis.”
Since the signing of the Memorandum and the inclusion of Greece in the Support Mechanism, Eurobank EFG has conducted in-depth research and assessment of the economy's potential. The team of Eurobank EFG's Economic Research & Forecasting Division, led by Prof. Gikas Hardouvelis and with the contribution of Prof. Dimitris Malliaropoulos and Messrs Platon Monokroussos and Tasos Anastasatos, developed a comprehensive study on the prospects of the Greek economy. The study describes and analyzes a series of positive factors whose importance international markets either ignore or underestimate. As a result, a grossly negative image of the country’s prospects has been formed. According to the study, the key factors that would allow Greece to exit the crisis include, primarily, the restoration of high growth rates in the economy, as well as the achievement of primary budget surpluses. Subject to these conditions, the debt to GDP ratio could drop drastically to even below 80% in 2020.
A transcript of the speech delivered by Minister Papaconstantinou is available (in Greek) on the website of the Ministry of Finance at www.minfin.gr