Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ hopes of bringing in development to help Greece grow out of recession and a strangling financial crisis took a hit with a finding that the country’s competitiveness has fallen seven places, ranking 90th in the world among 142 countries.
The bad news came in the annual Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012, presented by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Sept. 5. Greece ranks among four of the five countries with the largest score loss in the group of advanced economies, led by the United States (–0.4); Greece, Ireland and Iceland (–0.2 each), with Nigeria fifth (–0.3).
Greece’s standing is among the worse in the European Union, and was ranked 140th in the category of macroeconomics, with its financial markets at 110th with investors having low confidence in Greek companies and the government. Samaras is sticking to demands from international lenders to impose more austerity and has yet to present a plan to lure foreign investors even as many of them are fleeing the country for more competitive neighbors, such as Bulgaria.
Greeks also showed their disdain for the government and public institutions said to be ridden with corruption, placing the country 89th, while the inefficient labor market came in near the bottom at 126th. The WEF said that “continues to constrain Greece’s ability to emerge from the crisis, demonstrating the importance of recent efforts to increase the retirement age and increase labor market flexibility.”
However, the report added that: “In working to overcome the present difficulties, Greece has a number of strengths to build upon, including a reasonably well educated workforce that is adept at adopting new technologies for productivity enhancements.” Many of the country’s young, however, are moving to other countries because the financial crisis has created a 54.9 percent unemployment rate for those under 25.
Labor unions are ready to unleash new strikes and protests against more pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that Samaras’ uneasy coalition is planning, which he said are necessary to keep lifeline loans coming from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).