Turning Greece around

ShipWheelAnalysts remain concerned over the lack of new capital inflow in Greece; the recapitalisation process as well as the ability of Greek politicians to deliver what’s promised in the country’s bailout agreements.

On the same tune, Hellenic Federation of Enterprises chief Dimitris Daskalopoulos last week once again confirmed his critical stance towards the ND-led government; he argued that it was about time Greece to start negotiating “in a smarter, more strategic and more long-term manner, instead of wasting our time on petty bargaining over procedural adjustments.” The next day, Kathimerini editorial comment reprimanded SEV’s chief, noting that the head of Greek entrepreneurs’ union falls dramatically below expectations. “The public of this crisis-hit country expects the business community to seize the initiative and point the way toward a new manner of doing business that is not dependent on state subsidies and handouts, and that will lead to real growth, which is key to Greece’s recovery. What it is getting instead from representatives of the private sector, is a lot of complaining and never-ending political chatter,” the paper noted.

Well, Greece definitely needs both, namely smarter ways for the government to strategise and negotiate with the troika representatives, as well as sharp entrepreneurship that would invest on local advantages by moving forward, away from the obsolete local paradigm.

Under a positive prism, Greece has a unique opportunity to restructure its political and economic norms and draw a line with its futile recent past. It has a chance to start over and make a difference across the EU, adopting contemporary social responsibility concerns and ground breaking multi-facet corporate practices in key fields of the economy and business such as quality tourism, education, health services, transports, energy, to name a few.

Either reconfiguring its local presence or expanding to Libya, Egypt or elsewhere, Greek entrepreneurship has to seize the opportunity of the crisis and come up with a new way of doing business by designing a new economic paradigm.

Labour statistics describe a shift in the corporate field; more recruits than layoffs in the private sector suggest a little less pessimism amongst companies in Greece. A steady increase in economic sentiment also points forward, not back. The unemployment rate, on the other hand –the highest amongst EU members- hinders any attempt to node with certainty towards growth. INEE-GSEE, the top union think tank predicts unemployment to reach a devastating 30%, whilst IOBE’s head recently talked about high Greek unemployment being unsustainable. This means that long term unemployed people are distancing themselves from the market with few possibilities for a return.

In the Greek crisis, structural unemployment is part of change, albeit of dramatic nature. Fifty-year-old blue and white collars, kicked out due to the crisis from jobs that ceased to exist, will probably never find the same job again, unless the sector manages a quick come back. Although this cannot be ruled out, primarily due to the volatility of change itself, the wise thing to do is those people to capitalize on their experience, by forming teams of diverse specialties that could invest on new small-medium entrepreneurship; they could even attract generous funding, depending on their business plan.

Quite recently Qatar and Greece started talking about a joint venture capital that would invest on SMEs. The Qataris know that innovation and added value business ideas will emerge from small teams of people who will combine their efforts towards a common goal. The faster the coalition government decides to allow these efforts to flourish -by drastically cutting red tape, opening up protected professions and digitizing state services- the sooner Greeks will start producing new money.

What analysts still refuse to put in the equation is politicians’ ability to inspire people and trigger change. Cannot blame them for thinking less of political actors who have failed to protect their voters from clientelism and petty interests. However, for the time being, politicians in Greece are the only group of people that have the power to turn things around, protecting what’s left from their credibility. To manage that, they should rule like there is no tomorrow – for them, not the country.

Demetris Kamaras

Journalism Professor and journalist, primarily online. Political analyst and communications specialist. Previous studies in economics (BA), communications policy (MA) and journalism (PhD), mostly in London. Born in Hove, Brighton. Lives in Athens, Greece. Blogs when necessary. Founded and running dailyGreece.net Private Information Network and alyunaniya.com [The Greek]. Occasional articles of friends are published on PostNews.eu. Interested in political communication, next-gen web apps, digital R&D, internet ethics and social networks. He taught journalism and communication at University of Indianapolis Athens (1999-2013). Published numerous analyses and op-eds, online and in print and his first book was titled: Digital Communication (Zenon Publications, London, 2000 – co-authorship). Recent publications: Crisis Talk; Greece (2012) – iBook/Avaialble on iTunes. Elections and the Internet, Digerati Publications (Athens, 2014) (in Greek).

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