Theatre of the absurd, crass stupidity or downright criminal?
The Troika, those unimaginative, number-crunchers in grey suits strike again! After suggesting a 6 day working week for Greek workers, after suggesting the taxpayer fund the 550 million odd euros owed by the banks, they have now turned their attention to the islands...
Some people are saying that as it wasn't 'official' it shouldn't be relayed because it was made by a 'lowly placed' official. We disagree. Quite the contrary in fact... it is very useful to know the quality of the people that make up the advisors behind the IMF/EU/ECB Troika...
The unbelievable suggestion that the last remaining, and indisputably heroic, residents of strategically placed Greek islands be evacuated if less than 150 to save funds is totally and unequivocally insane. It just happens that some of the islands who have less than 150 inhabitants are islands like Gavdos and Farmakonissi which our loving neighbour, Turkey, loves to covet and therefore dispute as to their Greek sovereignty... what a gift to Turkey that would be!
Greek government denials have been issued but we don't buy them...they are just for damage control because the reaction was so instant and intense.
Maybe the 'lowly placed' Troika official who had the gall to make this suggestion hadn't read Greek history, had no idea of the population exchanges with Turkey and the deportations that Greeks everywhere have been subjected to through the ages. He or she obviously hadn't heard of measures designed to aid development either.
Instead of encouraging depopulation to save funds and listening to the public outcry, just imagine the accolade this 'lowly placed' Troika official would have received if he/she had suggested development of the sparsely populated islands by giving incentives for people to move there. That would mean putting infrastructure in place, building schools, providing medical services, transport and communication means that are essential to survival.
This would in turn encourage the people who left their island and are now living in highly populated urban centres and perhaps suffering from the high levels of unemployment to return with their families and put their ideas into practice, thus creating employment opportunities and in turn helping the economy recover.
Create, create, create should be the name of the game.
A friend of ours recently put this into practice on the island of Kastos. As there was no grocery store on this beautiful island, one of the ones the Troika is referring to, and everything had to be brought by kaiki from Mytika, the closest port, he decided to invest his funds, build a store and at the same time build a house to live in with his family.
The results for our friend in Kastos were positive for all - the islanders have a shop, the builders had employment, the kaiki still runs to take groceries, and the investor keeps busy, gives employment, pays taxes and above all sees his island develop.
So far so good... unless the Troika strikes!
The Troika is supposedly here, not just to make sure that the lenders get their money back, but to make sure that they get the Greek economy back on a healthy footing by stimulating production and investment. This is the aspect of the mission which is called 'helping' Greece, advising the government of reforms to be implemented to help the country move forward.
These major structural reforms are essential in Greece, but the kind of things we are hearing as coming from the Troika, even if taken with the proverbial grain of salt and with provision made for hearing things exaggerated and second-hand, are enough to make our collective hair stand on end.
How about if these whizz-kids turn their attention to something easy... like helping Greece's economic wizards keep Greek companies in Greece instead of forcing them into 'exile' because of the continually changing and non corporate friendly taxation system. If we can't keep our own investors how on earth are we going to attract foreign ones?
A Global Greek friend visiting this morning reminded us of a Chinese proverb which goes something like this
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime...
Somebody should remind the Troika of that too, unless our friends have something else in mind...
The future will tell...
Ironically enough on Valentine's Day ...