Greek PM unveils 'growth strategy'; abundant funding cited from European institutions

Monday, 21 May 2018 16:33

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday publicly unveiled a “growth strategy” for the post-bailout period after August 2018, essentially a series of initiatives and proposals already conveyed to creditors over the recent period - and a subsequent lukewarm response.

Speaking to Cabinet members in an address carried live by the state broadcaster, the leftist prime minister referred to investments aimed at exploiting what he called Greece’s “strategic advantages”.

In echoing similar addresses by Greek prime ministers over the past 40 years or so, Tsipras cited the sectors of light manufacturing, industry, agri-business, tourism, pharmaceuticals and shipping, as levers for economic growth. In a nod to more 21st century business concepts, he added the sectors of logistics, innovation and start-ups, along with energy and infrastructure.

In terms of financing and funding of the “growth strategy”, the once prominent EU skeptic and critic ticked off a laundry list of Union-affiliated credit lines and institutions: the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), better known as the “Juncker stimulus plan”; the National Strategic Reference Framework; the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the ΕBRD, on top of funding by now closely monitored Greek state coffers.

 At the same time, he said the looming conclusion of the ongoing memorandum program – the third and last bailout extended by institutional creditors to Greece since 2010 – marks a “definitive step” for an exit from the crisis era.

In terms of more specific measures, he promised stepped up efforts – over a three-year period – to further combat “off-the-books” employment in the country, as well as a restoration of the “basic principles” of collective bargaining.

Mandatory collective bargaining agreements between employers’ groups and unions were significant curtailed under the third memorandum signed by Tsipras’ leftist-rightist coalition government in the summer of 2015, and subsequently ratified by Parliament.

He also promised an increase in the minimum monthly wage scale, another “casualty” in three successive bailout programs.

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