George A. Papandreou (born June 16, 1952) is Former Prime Minister of Greece, current President of Socialist International, a Member of the Hellenic Parliament and former President of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). He served as the 11th Prime Minister of Greece from October 6, 2009 - November 11, 2011, after PASOK’s victory in the October 2009 national elections.

George A. Papandreou

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A new development model will make Greece more competitive

The Athens Chamber Of Commerce And Industry “Trade with Greece” Annual Business, Economic And Political Review (No39/2008)

A new development model will make Greece more competitive

Greek business Is poised to enter a new phase of development and expansion. In recent years, Greek products have remained competitive despite higher prices linked to the introduction of the euro. The Greek business world has absorbed the shock of the euro, although the social effects of entering the Euro-zone have yet to be effectively addressed.

By George A. Papandreou, President of PASOK

At the same time, Greek businesses have acquired significant capital gains in important sectors and established a strong business presence across South-eastern Europe. In less than twenty years, Greece has essentially transformed its economy from one of state-controlled insularity to an economy that is globally competitive and outward-looking. The flawless organization of the Athens 2004 Olympics was the pinnacle of recent achievements.

Today, Greek businesses face a new set of conditions and challenges, both in the domestic and international market. We must reassess the global economy, take stock of recent developments, identify new possibilities and opportunities, and ultimately adapt our businesses and our economy to the 21st century reality. In order to enter a new phase of assertive expansion, we must upgrade and modernize Greek products and services as rapidly as possible.

In the Balkans, for example, where Greek investments exceed €15 billion, critical changes are taking place. It is not only the status of Kosovo and the ongoing dispute over the name of FYROM that pose risks to economic stability. The developing Serbian economy and the structural problems in Romania and Bulgaria, which the IMF has underlined, also pose serious challenges to Greece’s economic interests and put Greek investments at risk. These problems are related to budgetary stability and inflation, as well as debt and current account deficits in these rapidly developing economies.

The Greek government has a responsibility to address all these issues in a timely manner, and to provide political support for Greek investors, who now face considerable competition from strong local businesses in these volatile Balkan markets.

Attracting foreign direct investments and transferring and disseminating new financial technologies are equally important economic priorities. During the past decade, we have seen substantial foreign investments in Greece, either through buy-outs of existing production units, portfolio investments, or investments in commercial infrastructure. It is now essential to attract investment capital in productive sectors that will add real value to the domestic market. Another critical domestic priority is tackling the high cost of living, which obviously has negative social consequences, but also reduces Greece’s competitiveness in the provision of services, such as the tourist industry.

The marginal difference in value between the euro and the dollar, the rising cost of petrol, the tax advantages offered by emerging European economies and the global economic shift towards the BRIC countries, all demand a strategic reorientation of the Greek economy and Greek businesses. The drop in Greece’s competitiveness makes this an urgent priority.

The solution to this problem lies in understanding the shortcomings of the status quo. The Greek economy will regain a position of strength not by correcting the current development model, but by completely rethinking it. We need a new model of development based on a green economy, which will allow us to turn our comparative advantages into competitive advantages. Green development does not only mean costly environmental studies, expensive filters, and investments in clean-up campaigns and waste management. Green development also means research into new technologies such as photovoltaic systems, measures to adapt to climate change, new business opportunities in agriculture, technology, tourism, industry, and services. Green development means energy efficiency, renewable resources, educational reforms, and radical changes in our mentality and lifestyle.

PASOK’s green development strategy is based on three central policy pillars: environmental protection and urban planning, energy, and transport. In order to promote sustainable development and eco-friendly businesses, we have designed a series of policies that include: subsidies and tax breaks for companies investing in environmental technology or renewable energy, shifting the tax burden to operations and products that are harmful to the environment, introducing sustainable construction standards for all public works, and improving the energy efficiency of all public buildings. We propose an increase in funds for research and development, as well as mandatory training in environmental management in both the public and private sector.

Our comprehensive policy proposals for the environment and green development are the polar opposite of the policy in place today. Our proposals will mobilize resources, knowledge and people, opening up new horizons for greater competitiveness and opening up new markets. This is our way forward.

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