Greece unveiled on Wednesday the so-called National Recovery and Resilience Plan for the day after the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis presented the key principles of the plan – dubbed “Greece 2.0.,” which aspires to not only create 200,000 jobs but also to increase GDP by 7.0 points in the next six years.
Under the multi-billion-euro coronavirus recovery package agreed upon by European Union leaders last year, Athens is to receive 19.4 billion euros in grants and 12.7 billion euros in inexpensive loans over the coming years.
The recovery plan, which was approved by the cabinet Monday, will be debated in Parliament and is expected to be submitted to the European Commission mid-April.
National plans will be financed by the European Union from a 750 billion-euro recovery fund that will be jointly borrowed and repaid by the whole 27-nation bloc.
Recovery plan contains 170 projects
Mitsotakis said that the Greek plan, which contains 170 projects, is based on four pillars: the digital transition of the state and the economy, increasing employment and social cohesion, the green economy, and rapid growth of productive activity.
“The national recovery plan may add up to seven percentage points to GDP on a six-year horizon, on top of the natural growth rate of Greece’s economy, and add 200,000 jobs,” said Prime Minister Mitsotakis.
He described the plan “a bridge to the post-Covid-19 era.”
“The recovery plan has a groundbreaking character, because it changes the model to create an open economy and a tax system that is friendly to growth and always focused on the future,” the prime minister said.
He stressed that its directions were drawn up by Greeks and for Greeks, and that the Greek government therefore had “full ownership” of the plan.
“It incorporates our experience from the pandemic. It eliminates long-standing problems. Greece’s Plan leads to a fair redistribution of national wealth. The effort that begins today means more jobs, especially for our young people, and a better daily life for everyone,” the Prime Minister added.
Difference of current with previous plans
Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos explained what he believes is the fundamental difference between this recovery plan and similar programs in the past.
“Before today, we would first secure funds from Europe and only then start to think about what to do with them. The goal, almost an end in itself, was absorption for absorption’s sake. Not a lasting developmental result.
“This method has certainly endowed us with better infrastructure until today, but failed to provide answers to the permanent structural problems of our country.”
On the contrary, he added, “the architecture of the Recovery Fund is exactly the opposite. In other words, we first had to present to our partners our own, ‘Greek-owned’, coherent development plan, sufficiently justified and costed, and then to claim the resources to finance it.”
Opposition blasts recovery plan
The recovery plan presented by the government on Wednesday does not include most of society, said MPs of SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance in a joint statement.
“Despite statements about changes in the country’s production model and the way financial resources are handled, the government chooses to follow what it knows best: mock consultations and the absence of any substantial democratic dialogue,” said party MP responsible for finance Effie Achtsioglou and MP responsible for development Alexis Charitsis.
Concerning Mitsotakis’ announcement for the creation of 180,000 jobs over the next 6 years, opposition MPs said: “It is obvious that even if it happens, these jobs would not tackle the explosive problem of unemployment, with some 1,150,000 people already jobless.”
The Prime Minister “promises that employment rates will return to the level they were in 2019, after 6 years,” but “the bar is set rather low, considering the size of funding available for economic recovery,” they noted.
The ‘Greece 2.0’ plan unveiled by Mitsotakis is a plan for a two-speed Greece, with the few and powerful that expect to get the lion’s share of the funds with the government’s blessing, on the one hand, and the many small and medium-sized businesses, farmers and employees that are left behind, on the other hand, opposition Movement for Change (KINAL) asserted on Wednesday.
In an announcement, KINAL underlined that the “program, in the same way as it was drafted by a few at the Maximos Mansion, will end up concerning only the few, with social inequality in Greece continuously widening.”