Ομιλία του Υπ. Οικονομικών κ. Χρήστου Σταϊκούρα, στο ψηφιακό συνέδριο του “The Economist” με τίτλο: “EU Recovery and Resilience Fund for Greece: European Green Deal – Digital transformation – Infrastructure”
I would like to thank “The Economist” for organizing this important, high level, virtual event.
Event that takes place in a period of high uncertainty.
Unavoidably, the same happens to the Greek economy.
Nevertheless, it has depicted remarkable resilience, due to the effective handling of the pandemic by the Government.
This is recognized by all “stakeholders”, namely the institutions, the markets, the investors, the rating agencies, and, last but not least, the Greek society.
Indeed, despite the fact that the Greek economy will suffer one of the deepest falls in economic activity in Europe, on account mainly of its high exposure to tourism, we have adapted and expand a large set of timely-taken, well-targeted fiscal and liquidity measures that help cushion the social and economic cost of the pandemic.
These measures are financed by the prudent and neat management of cash reserves.
At the same time, amid the crisis, which necessitated a focus on more immediate priorities, we have significantly stepped up the pace of reform implementation.
- The new insolvency code has been adopted in the Parliament.
- “Hercules”, the asset protection scheme, has already been adopted by most systemic banks, while additional securitization projects are in the pipeline.
- The institutional framework for corporate governance has been modernized.
- The Asset Development Plan has been boosted.
- Plans to address long-standing weaknesses of certain state-owned enterprises have been put into action.
- Good progress has also been made in key policy areas, like public administration, digital governance, justice and anticorruption, energy, labour market, fiscal reform, health sector etc.
Consequently, despite the unprecedented circumstances, we have made good use of time in order to speed up reforms, aiming at ensuring a solid base for recovery.
However, the Greek economy continues to face significant challenges, which require persistent reform efforts.
We are working prudently and methodically,
- to address the remaining vulnerabilities,
- to successfully tackle the health crisis, population movement and geopolitical turbulences, and
- to make efficient use of the available European funds, mainly those from the NextGeneration EU.
The size of the envelope and its composition pose a unique opportunity for Greece to boost economic activity, through both investments and reforms that will have a prolonged and sustainable impact on the country’s long-term economic outlook.
Investment and reforms that build on and complement past and ongoing policies in the context of the enhanced surveillance process, also reflecting horizontal European priorities.
Investment and reforms, among others, to achieve efficient use of energy, to upgrade networks, to make sustainable use of resources, to achieve climate resilience, to digitalize public and private sector, to promote job creation and participation in the labour market, to improve accessibility and sustainability of healthcare, to increase access to effective and inclusive social policies, to enhance social cohesion, to make fiscal policy more growth friendly, to improve tax administration and tax collection, to improve the efficiency of the justice system, to strengthen the financial sector and capital markets, to promote endogenous sources of growth – like education, vocational education and training, research and innovation, to promote exports, and to improve the business environment.
Indeed, the RRP comprises of four pillars:
- The Green pillar, with reforms and investments that promote the Green Transition of the economy, and include emblematic projects, such as a massive program of energy efficiency renovation for residential buildings, businesses and public sector buildings and infrastructure.
This program will achieve a three-fold objective, namely the promotion of climate resilience, the creation of new jobs, as well as the reduction of energy costs for households, businesses and the Greek State.
Additionally, the interconnection for the Greek islands constitutes another emblematic green project, which will promote the penetration of Renewable Energy Sources, as well as significantly reduce the energy costs for households and businesses.
- The Digital pillar puts forward digital transition projects, such as the development of 5G network corridors in all the Greek motorways, as well as the digital transformation of SMEs.
- The Employment, skills and social cohesion pillar embraces reforms and investments that –among others – increase the capacity and resilience of the health system.
This set of actions includes a comprehensive prevention system, the upgrade of primary care services and the introduction of therapeutic protocols in the e-prescription system, along with Digital Patient Health Records.
Also, this pillar includes reforms that promote the autonomy and high quality of education of Universities and further advance their performance, in terms of research and innovation.
- Finally, the Private investment and economic & institutional transformation pillar will advance projects, such as the development of high-quality infrastructure and transport systems that are multimodal, climate-resilient, smart and sustainable.
It includes investments in axes of the Trans-European road network, such as the north part of the E-65 and the North Road Axis of Crete.
This pillar also includes projects that support our persistent fight against tax-evasion and smuggling, by advancing the employment of Artificial Intelligence and other digital tools that facilitate effective controlling.
We have already submitted an ambitious and realistic draft of our National Recovery and Resilience Plan to the European Commission, on the basis of which we are already in close co-operation with the Commission in order to formulate its final version.
Its primary consideration is to cover the investment, output and employment gap.
The mobilization of significant private sector resources is a central objective of the Plan.
This will be pursued through:
- the extensive employment of Public Private Partnerships, as a tool for implementing public investments,
- the use of Energy Service Companies to implement energy efficiency projects in the public sector, and
- the use of co-financing, by employing financial instruments to leverage additional private resources in the implementation of eligible private investments.
Taking advantage of all the above, we will have the opportunity not only to recover, but to enter in a strong and sustainable upward trajectory.
An opportunity that we are determined to seize in order to restructure the economy, to enhance its productivity and to improve its competitiveness.