Δευτέρα, 11 Απριλίου 2022
Ομιλία του Υπουργού Οικονομικών κ. Χρήστου Σταϊκούρα στο 23ο Ετήσιο Συνέδριο της Capital Link στη Νέα Υόρκη “Invest in Greece Forum”
I would like to thank Capital Link for inviting me and offering the opportunity to share some thoughts οn the state of play of the Greek economy and its positive prospects, in these challenging – globally – times.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since the beginning of 2020, the world economy is being tested by a series of unprecedented and consecutive exogenous shocks in the fields of health, energy and geopolitics.
Amid these crises and despite the turbulences and high uncertainty and volatility caused by them, the Greek economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience and important achievements, as a result of the well-targeted and effective policies pursued by the Government, protecting incomes, jobs and businesses.
Among others, in 2021:
- A “V-shape” recovery has been recorded.
- Investments and exports of goods and services were strengthened.
- Unemployment has shrunk, significantly.
- The real disposable income of households was supported.
- The economic sentiment improved.
- Non-performing loans decreased and deposits increased, drastically.
- The Greek sovereign was upgraded.
All these achievements are due to and based on the implementation of a prudent, coherent, reform-oriented, growth-friendly and insightful economic policy.
The effectiveness of that economic policy is acknowledged by all “stakeholders”, like European partners, international institutions, rating agencies and investors.
Consequently, the “big picture” of the Greek economy is positive and its prospects are even more positive.
However, I have to acknowledge that this positive outlook is blurred, by new, serious exogenous difficulties and challenges.
Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the situation of the European economies, each month, is getting worse.
Many leading factors in the economy are, once again, under severe pressure.
The negative effects have spread throughout the supply chains and consumer sentiment.
We are sinking, more and more, into the quicksand of the new global economic crisis.
Citizens’ disposable income is shrinking dramatically.
Growth rates are declining.
Inflation is fast increasing.
No country will get out of this situation, and of course this includes Greece, unscathed.
And national actions to address the economic consequences are not enough.
Thus, collective, responses are needed, immediately.
In this context, and as far as Europe is concerned, I would like to share the following comments:
1st. Developments in the price of natural gas do not seem to be consistent with the actual disruptions in supply.
This implies a need for interventions to reduce existing distortions and destabilizing speculative pressures.
2nd. We need to look at how the prices of fossil fuels will be decoupled from the price of electricity, which is at very high levels, regardless of whether it is produced from cheaper energy sources.
3rd. We believe that attempts towards ensuring adequate storage of gas are very important and should be complemented by joint purchases, so as to take advantage of the market power that the European Union, as a single buyer, can exercise.
4th. We need to build a “safety net”, as we successfully did during the pandemic, for households and businesses.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The recent events reconfirm the importance of being prepared for any eventuality, building up resilience to cope with shocks and building for the future.
Thus, irrespectively of the actions that will take place globally, it is of outmost importance to continue implementing – internally – a prudent, growth-friendly and reform-oriented economic policy agenda, improving even more the fundamentals of the Greek economy.
This policy agenda is based upon 7 pillars:
1st Pillar: Providing well-targeted, one-off support measures, especially for the most vulnerable households and enterprises, utilizing the available European and national tools, in order to reduce mainly the heavy energy cost on disposable income.
2nd Pillar: Following a prudent fiscal policy.
We expect a much better than projected fiscal outcome for 2021, a significant fiscal consolidation in 2022, and the achievement of realistic primary surpluses from 2023 onwards.
This credible fiscal path is mainly based on growth, with higher permanent tax revenues, enhanced by growth-friendly reduction on taxes and social security contributions.
3rd Pillar: Implementing a smart issuing strategy.
Greek public debt, as confirmed recently by IMF, ESM and the European Commission, is sustainable, because:
- it has a long weighted average maturity,
- most of it is held by the official sector, and
- it presents a significant fixed rate component.
The full early repayment of Greece’s outstanding IMF loans, as well as the announced prepayment of a portion of its GLF loans, at the end of this year, according to the ESM, “send a positive signal to markets about Greece’s financing position, have a positive impact on Greece’s public debt profile and generate some savings for the Greek budget.”
Additionally, Greek debt presents low average annual gross financing needs, in the range of 10% of GDP for many years ahead.
Finally, we maintain substantial cash buffers, whose value is equal to approximately 20% of GDP, among the highest among European countries.
Thus Greece, under all circumstances, will service its public debt.
4th Pillar: Enhancing liquidity in the real economy.
This will be achieved through 3 routes:
1st. Credit expansion, as started being observed in 2021, based on improving banks’ balance sheets.
New credit, in 2021, stood at 20.2 billion euros.
2nd. The implementation of the Loan Facility of the Recovery and Resilience Plan.
This is an innovative financing mechanism, aiming to fill the large national investment gap observed in Greece over the past decade, using financial leverage as a multiplier for private investment.
The Loan Facility finances only productive investment in selected areas, like green, digital, extroversion, innovation and economies of scale, using a funding scheme ensuring that all players have skin in the game, that the RRF regulation requirements are met, subject to independent audits and controls.
Investment projects financed by the Loan Facility are selected on purely market-based criteria, by the participating international Financial Institutions, like EIB and EBRD, as well as commercial banks, without any state involvement.
These will be the only assessors of the viability of the investment projects and the creditworthiness of the borrower.
3rd. The implementation of the new insolvency framework, which is, truly, state-of-the-art.
Indeed, we have achieved the first successful debt settlements through its out-of-court workout platform, and the first acceptances by debtors.
Additionally, we elaborate a number of measures and reforms, including the establishment of a Public Credit Bureau and a Central Credit Registry, as well as the implementation of a National Strategy for Private Debt Management, in order to prevent future private debt build-up and enhance the secondary NPL market.
5th Pillar: Implementing structural changes and utilizing public property.
We have developed an ambitious Asset Development Plan, through the Hellenic Corporation of Assets (HCAP) and the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), which is on track.
The Plan includes several privatizations and long-term lease projects.
The progress of the Hellenikon project, on ports, marinas, energy companies, logistics centers, is indicative of the Plan’s successful path.
Moreover, we have passed a new labour law, improving – at the same time – both the business environment and workers’ rights and personal line balance.
We have also completed a number of important reforms to modernize and digitalize public administration, to reorganize the pension administration, to simplify the framework for investment licensing, to provide a modern corporate governance regime, to establish tax incentives to boost research and innovation, as well as to attract investment and human capital from abroad.
Finally, in the next few days we will pass from Parliament a new law, bringing a revolution to the upskilling/re-skilling framework of our country.
Indeed, over the last almost 3 years, we have passed 298 laws from the Greek Parliament, improving our citizens’ everyday life and making the Greek economy more friendly for business.
At the same time, Greece has made significant progress in all governance indicators published by organizations, such as the World Bank and Transparency International.
Going forward, some of the focus areas include:
- broadening the tax base by further improving tax collection,
- increasing public sector’s efficiency and productivity,
- improving the educational and the justice system,
- enhancing transition to the green, sustainable economic model.
6th Pillar: Rationally utilizing the available European funds, having at the forefront the Recovery and Resilience Fund and the new EU Cohesion funds National Strategic Reference Framework, around 80 billion euros up to 2027.
In terms of percentage in GDP, this is an amount double than the funds Greece received in the context of the Marshal Plan!
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan, Greece 2.0, is in full swing.
To date, 173 planned projects and subprojects have been incorporated into the implementation phase, of total face value equal to 8.5 billion euros.
Last Friday, Greece received the first installment of grants and loans, totaling almost 3.6 billion euros.
In order to receive it, we completed milestones relating to 8 reforms and 7 investments, relating – among others – to:
- electro mobility and energy savings,
- the organizational reform of the Public Employment Service,
- the new legislation of business extroversion, the tax codification, the modernization of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission,
- the setting up of the management, control and audit systems.
7th Pillar: Actively participating in the initiatives for the new European economic architecture.
Among others, we support:
- the completion of the Banking Union,
- the deepening of the Capital Markets Union,
- the agreement on a Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy,
- the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact.
As far as the latter is concerned, given the increase in public debt ratios over the last couple of years, a reinstatement of the present fiscal rules makes little economic sense and would not be credible with markets.
The revised fiscal framework should ensure, among others, that:
- debt reduction paths are not frontloaded in the aftermath of the pandemic crisis,
- fiscal policy is counter-cyclical,
- productive investment is protected.
Moreover, we support a framework fostering national ownership of fiscal adjustment plans, a medium-term approach in fiscal surveillance, as well as the establishment of a central fiscal capacity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The continuation of policy implementation based on these 7 pillars, will lead to the achievement of 7 specific targets we have set the previous years:
1st Target: Achieving high growth rates.
We observed a strong recovery, of 8.3% in 2021, we project a growth rate above 3% in 2022, and we expect significant growth rates from 2023 onwards.
The reforms, already under implementation, included also in our national Recovery and Resilience Plan, will be paying “growth dividends” for many years to come.
2nd Target: Achieving sustainable growth, through improving the quality of GDP.
Indeed, both investment and export components increased strongly in 2021.
We expect, according to the European Commission estimates, the highest – compared with EU peers – percentage increases in 2022 and 2023.
3rd Target: Exiting the Enhanced Surveillance Mechanism.
As Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis mentioned last Friday, we are going to “transit out of Enhanced Surveillance this summer and receive the final tranches of debt relief, which is to be decided in June.”
4th Target: Achieving single-digit rate of non-performing loans on banks’ balance sheets.
At the end of December 2021, the total stock of NPEs declined to 18.4 billion euros, and the NPEs ratio dropped to 12.8%, the lowest readings since June 2010.
Indeed, in 2021, two out of four large systemic banks achieved this objective.
5th Target: Reducing poverty and inequalities.
The proportion of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion declined in 2020.
Overall, based on the available data, the inequality indicators show:
- strengthening the position of the middle class against the richer income groups,
- reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion in the general population,
- stabilizing the position of the poorest income groups against the richer ones.
6th Target: Moving towards fiscal balance.
I have already commented on that.
7th Target: Obtaining the investment grade, in 2023.
We are moving towards achieving this objective.
In the last 3 years, despite the consecutive crises we had to face, we have been upgraded by rating agencies 8 times.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I spoke to you, today, about the 7 pillars and the 7 goals of our economic policy.
We know where we are, we know where we want to go, and we know how to go!
Despite difficulties and international volatility, Greece is efficiently implementing reforms and coherent policies which provide the impetus to form a more resilient and inclusive economic landscape, achieving high and sustainable growth, creating many jobs and enhancing social cohesion.
Δείτε φωτογραφίες από την εκδήλωση: