KEFiM: The fact that in today’s Greece there are still innovative businesses is for every liberal a source of optimism and responsibility
The fact that in today’s Greece there are still people who are determined to test their creative powers in innovative businesses is for every Greek liberal, a source of optimism but also a responsibility.
Optimism, because even in a hostile environment, creative efforts find a way to manifest themselves, to be put to practice and even some of them to succeed. Responsibility, because everyone who has this need, should be concerned with making the situation better and this begins first and foremost from the battle of ideas.
Among KEFiM’s strategic pillars of action are the policy proposals to strengthen freedom in the economy and society, as well as the constant effort to tackle economic illiteracy.
Thus, our belief is that the first thing is to locate the problem and to expose it with absolute clarity to the Greek public.
Once again this year, KEFiM presented the findings of the Economic Freedom of the World index by the Fraser Institute, where Greece occupies the not-so-noble 116th place among 159 countries. A few days ago, we also presented our much-debated study of this year’s Tax Freedom Day, where we demonstrated that if the government achieves its fiscal goals, the Greeks will work an average of 198 days just to pay taxes. Moreover, according to the Doing Business index of the World Bank Group, 1,580 days are needed to implement contracts and 3.5 years to complete bankruptcy proceedings in Greece. As a result of these, old and new businesses are closing, we have unemployment and underemployment, talented people are moving abroad, the Greeks’ way of life is steadily deteriorating.
These facts describe in a crude way the Greek reality today. And its these facts that we present every chance we get to the widespread perception expressed even by the Minister of Finance with aphorisms such as “there is no over-taxation in Greece” or “there is no need to produce wealth before its redistribution.” And things are changing: Today, more and more Greeks define themselves as liberals and demand more freedom in every aspect of public life. Our challenge is to give this liberalism concrete and tangible content.
Regarding what today’s innovative businesses need, and generally the business sector and the national economy, the answer is quite clear to us: a drastic reduction in taxation – both for businesses and individuals – and in contributions so as to not stifle the real economy. A stable environment for entrepreneurship without unpleasant surprises that don’t allow the bare minimum planning of action. Simplification of the procedures for setting up and closing a business, and the overall regulations. Simplification of the bankruptcy process so that the state finally ceases to regard it as a crime and – especially important for innovative businesses – to not restrict with unnecessarily lengthy procedures people who have the will and knowledge to learn from their mistakes and implement new business ideas. Acceleration of the administration of justice and more effective protection of property rights. Making use of the enormous potential of higher education by linking it more effectively to the real economy, creation of innovation centers in cooperation with the businesses, and of course the establishment and operation of private universities.
Apart from the individual and fragmentary, a change in overall attitude is needed. In order to improve the business environment in Greece we have to go from the bothersome state that exists today only to reproduce itself, to a small and efficient state that will serve the needs of the citizens. Let’s go from the regressive logic of “what is not required by law, is forbidden” that affects the innovative businesses which, by definition, seek innovation, to the exact opposite, “anything that is not explicitly forbidden, is allowed”! We must understand that the exit from the crisis, the recovery of the economy, the tackling of unemployment comes from the private sector.
At KEFiM, we believe the time for this paradigm shift has come. In light of this, with our most ambitious initiative entitled “Greece 2021: Agenda for Freedom and Prosperity”, we are building a comprehensive, positive agenda of reforms, a roadmap for strengthening freedom in every aspect of public life. In collaboration with distinguished academics, researchers and experts, we make specific and detailed proposals for each field (Taxation, Finance, Public Administration, Labor, Regulatory Framework, State of Law, Education, Health, Insurance) that we will present to Greek citizens and political forces within the year.
So, on the one hand, combating the economic illiteracy. On the other hand, the formulation and promotion of concrete policy proposals for a more free economy. With a targeted strategy, we achieve measurable results for the change of ideas in Greece. And in this struggle, using our non-negotiable independence from political parties and state funding, we call on all those who agree on the need for more freedom to support, in every way they believe just, our actions and initiatives. We are united by the vision of a more liberal Greece!
Note: the article was published for the first time on Monday 16/07, in the newspaper “Phileleftheros”.