Money for nothing–(Greece)

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Alexis Papachelas is a guest editorial writer to The Business Thinker. He is currently the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”.

State subsidies are one of the main reasons behind the bankruptcy of Greek entrepreneurship. Many businessmen are currently requesting economic aid so they can, in turn, kick-start the faltering economy, which is currently sinking in the quagmire of recession.

But could this really solve the problem? It would be interesting to see a list of the businesses and specific projects that have received subsidies over the past 20 years and examine what came of them and their subsidized projects. Most respected entrepreneurs will tell you that the subsidies had little impact on the real economy.

The conclusion should come as no surprise given the corruption of the past few decades.

Former union leaders and student party representatives exploited their connections to push subsidies for controversial investments. At the same time, many a hopeful businessman would get entangled in a sea of red tape, kickbacks and political favors.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. There were serious entrepreneurs who received state subsidies and then carried out significant projects.

Also, it is absurd and unethical for the state not to meet its financial obligations. The state needs to practice continuity. It cannot act in a fly-by-night fashion.

After all, the only serious argument in the defense of subsidies is that they can offset the lack of serious infrastructure, the lack of professionalism on the part of local administrations and the state, as well as the plethora of counterincentives sown by three decades of a dysfunctional, corrupt environment.

What any serious entrepreneur wants is to be left alone by the state. They want a state that does not change the laws and tax regulations every other day and that curbs the influence of organized groups over relevant legislation.

Serious investors will weigh their options and follow their instincts.

They will not throw money at some remote village in the provinces just because some law says they can get a subsidy if they do so.

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About the Author

Alexis Papachelas is the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”. He is the creator and principal presenter of the weekly news program “The New Files” aired in Greece for 10 consecutive seasons. He has been awarded a number of distinctions both on his broadcast as well as his print contributions.  He studied History, International Relations and Journalism at Bard College and Columbia University in the United States.

Papachelas is the author of the books “The Rape of Greek Democracy” (1997) and “File November 17” (2002).

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