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Brookings Institute senior fellow Pelagidis: Full liberalization needed in Greece to induce ‘investment shock’

By Vassilis Kostoulas
[email protected]

A radical “new mix” to shake up crisis-bedeviled Greece’s fiscal policy and economic model through lower tax rates and higher incentives – despite the asphyxiating “straitjacket” of the current bailout program – is possible, according to Brookings Institute senior fellow Theodore Pelagidis.

In comments to “N” this week, which coincided with the disclosure of a draft supplementary memorandum to conclude the second review of the Greek program (third bailout), the University of Piraeus economics professor and author of a latest book, entitled “Mesi Ge” (Middle Earth), said one innovative way to reduce central government spending would be to transfer certain public services and activities to the local and regional levels.

One example he cited referred to higher education: “the global economy is relentless. In order to exist you must be competitive. The country (Greece) can’t keep using taxpayers’ money to fund dozens of ‘social studies’ faculties without any incentive, or medical schools that ‘produce’ doctors for Germany; this is national suicide,” he stressed.

Just as radical, by contemporary Greek standards, is his position for a “full liberalization” in practically all economic fronts in the country, such as land uses, foreign investment, exports etc. The aim is to induce an “investment shock” in Eurozone straggler Greece by quickly and substantively increasing GDP growth and employment.

Queried over the latest international developments and what appears to be an apparent “comeback” and “counter-demonization” of the ideology of free markets and globalization, as well as its effect on Greece, he said:

“In practice (US President Donald) Trump is doing the exact opposite. In Europe, liberals are being elected everywhere … Greece has several advantages to its benefit, which mainly deal with and arise from its moderate climate. People always wanted to live here, because many activities can be conducted outdoors. Greece could become Europe’s Florida or California, if we Greeks had a slightly different mentality.”