Greek Growth Minister Confident That Vote Will Pass
In an interview with CNBC, Greece's minister for growth, competitiveness and shipping, Michalis Chrisochoides, was utterly confident that his PASOK party will be able to push through the unpopular medium-term austerity package.
The fiscal program is scheduled to go through parliament in two separate votes on Wednesday and Thursday, and Chrisochoides said that he was convinced that "PASOK MPs will do their duty"as everyone in the country understands that the vote is "very critical."
While he dismissed talk of a potential default, Chrisochoides said the inertia by EU officials isn't helping to restore confidence.
"I think it's a slow death when every day we have announcements, statements from several European leaders without making decisions," he said.
"So the Europeans have to make decisions about the debt, while the Greek have to find a logical solution on how to save the Greek people, serve the very big debt and on the other hand we have to prepare a package for the development," he added.
Michalis Chrisochoides is one of the few ministers who managed to cling to his old post in the Socialist Party's cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago.
His job as a Greek minister for growth, competitiveness and shipping won't get any easier though, as economists agree that once the country's debt and deficit are solved, lack of competitiveness will still remain Greece's fundamental problem.
Asked about why Greece hasn't been able to attract foreign direct investments, the minister admitted that Greece's economy was lacking exports, dynamisms and innovation.
"I believe now, when we see articles in the international press every day, saying that Greece will default, nobody will come to this country and invest," he added.
"The more important issue is how to create growth in the longer term".
As conventional wisdom suggests, it is very difficult to foster growth in times of austerity. So how is Greece planning to do it? According to Chrisochoides, growth is already under way:
"This year, in the first four months of 2011, we saw a 30 percent increase in exports and they represent a big percentage of our GDP," he said.
In addition to supporting more exports, he pointed to private investments as a second pillar of growth.
"We have to create a new environment, where bureaucracy and corruption disappear, and there will be new procedures for licensing. I think very soon, Greece will be a very good country for investments with a very positive environment," Chrisochoides said.