New Democracy’s proposal for governing the country consisted of a two-pronged approach based on less spending and fewer taxes, main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday, addressing the annual general meeting of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).
Mitsotakis said that the only way out of the crisis “was an agreement of truth with the European partners and Greek society,” and stressed the need for a commitment to really carry out brave reforms, in exchange for a smaller primary surplus of around 2 pct of GDP and annual growth rates of 4 pct from 2018.
“In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to turn to a systematic support of enterprise and to attract private investments, implementing the principle ‘fewer taxes – less spending,'” he said. Mitsotakis said the target should be to achieve a 10 pct increase in Greek exports each year and to push investments up to 20 pct of GDP from a current 11 pct within five years.
ND’s leader then referred to what he called the citizens’ “not unjustified” suspicion, noting that the years of artificial prosperity “corruption the consciences not only of politicians but also of a part of the business classes.” According to Mitsotakis, there had been a “close embrace tango” between a state-funded capitalism, political forces and business people that had undermined the country’s productive base.
Greece now had to generate wealth in which everyone had a share and succeed in changing the current distorted image of the country, restoring it to a hopeful path, Mitsotakis added. “Our people cannot only participate in the losses. The workers and pensioners must also have a share in the profits of growth,” he noted.
According to ND’s leader, there were certain necessary conditions for achieving these goals, the first of which was to restore the country’s credibility and “become a normal country” that inspired confidence in investors. This, in turn, demanded a government that was truly committed to implementing the necessary reforms, he stressed.
Other conditions were to restore liquidity and the smooth operation of the banking system, rationalize the tax system and ensure its stability, while putting an end to excessive taxation “and stop looking at businesses exclusively as a reservoir for drawing taxes.” Lastly, the country had to improve the business climate, chiefly by combatting bureaucracy.
Turning to the current SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government, Mitsotakis said their term in power was estimated to have cost the country 21 billion euros in terms of less growth, combined with a worsening business and investment climate. ND’s leader cited figures showing that a record 9,812 businesses had shut down in the first three months of 2016, while foreign direct investments had fallen from 1.67 billion euros in 2014 to -0.29 billion euros in 2015.
On what people could expect from an ND government, Mitsotakis stressed that this would include support for business as the only route toward the country’s prosperity. “New Democracy equals new jobs,” he said, “only in this way can Greece move from the current model of redistributing poverty to tomorrow’s model of producing wealth,” he said.