Greek People Expect Urgent Structural Reforms: Expert

Greece’s talks with the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund over the weekend may have gone well but not enough is being done in terms of structural reform and the Greek people expect government action to start bringing about results, Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos, a senior lecturer in politics at Birkbeck College at the University of London, told CNBC on Monday.

The Parthenon, illuminated at night, sits at the top of Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece, on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012.
The Parthenon, illuminated at night, sits at the top of Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece, on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012.

Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras pledged to keep to austerity measures and a structural reform program during talks with “troika” officials this weekend. He also pledged on Sunday to do everything within his power to steer Greece away from a bankruptcy.

According to Dimitrakopoulos this shows the government’s commitment to the 130 billion euro bailout, but, he added, the government needed to do more.

“In terms of commitment, [it’s there] absolutely,” he said. “It seems to me that there is a reform-minded minister of finance in place who’s determined to implement the reforms that are required.”

According to a newspaper report, Greece has been given 4 billion euros ($4.95 billion) in emergency loans from the European Central Bank that should keep it afloat until international inspectors return in September for a final verdict on the country’s future.

Dimitrakopoulos believes the most important matter for the government to address is structural reform, especially of the tax collection system which Greeks see as notoriously unsystematic at best and corrupt at worst and though there had been some slow progress, Dimitrakopoulos said, “not enough has been done.”

“[Structural reform] is the next step that many ordinary Greeks want the government to take. Ordinary citizens cannot bear more cuts, more pension cuts and more wage cuts. Even the IMF as recently as May has said that we cannot keep on burdening the economy in the same way.”

He added that there was “resignation and hope”, and a sense of expectation among the public — and Greece’s partners — that the political leaders will enact reforms that will bring about tangible results now, as patience was wearing thin.

“The Greek public know that some very painful reforms have to be implemented but there is hope, because clearly the coalition wants to keep Greece in the euro zone and that’s what [more than 80 percent of] Greeks want.”

“People expect to see results now, we’ve had two successive electoral contests in May and June, now people want to see action.”