OECD praises re­forms in Greece

Or­ga­ni­za­tion says the ef­fort must con­tinue in spe­cific sec­tors such as com­pe­ti­tion, ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY SOTIRIS NIKAS

Greece is a cham­pi­onin terms of re­forms, but still has a long way to go, a report by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment (OECD) sug­gested yes­ter­day.

The re­spected or­ga­ni­za­tion has found that Greece was the coun­try with the great­est rate of re­form pro­mo­tion for the 2011-12 pe­riod among its mem­ber states, im­ple­ment­ing some of the “tough­est” struc­tural changes.

“The rate of re­forms was par­tic­u­larly high among eu­ro­zone coun­tries ei­ther through the fi­nan­cial sup­port pro­grams or due to di­rect mar­ket pres­sures (e.g. Greece, Ire­land, Spain, Italy and Por­tu­gal), even in po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive sec­tors such as la­bor reg­u­la­tions and wel­fare sys­tems,” the report read. It added that sig­nif­i­cant fis­cal ad­just­ment pro­grams are un­der­go­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion in th­ese coun­tries, un­like other states with higher liv­ing stan­dards (such as Switzer­land, the US and Nor­way) where the re­form rate has been much slower.

De­spite Greece hav­ing se­cured this dis­tinc­tion, the OECD be­lieves that the re­form work will have to con­tinue, and goes on to make spe­cific pro­pos­als re­gard­ing cer­tain do­mains. It notes that the government’s pri­or­i­ties should be the fol­low­ing:

Strength­en­ing com­pe­ti­tion, as ac­cord­ing to the OECD there can be no fur­ther de­lays in the open­ing up of closed-shop pro­fes­sions and all ob­sta­cles to the lib­er­al­iza­tion of the elec­tri­cal en­ergy mar­ket should be lifted.

Tax eva­sion re­mains ex­ten­sive in Greece, so sys­tem re­form con­sti­tutes an ur­gent need. A more trans­par­ent sys­tem for tax­ing the self­em­ployed and the strength­en­ing of the tax col- lec­tion mech­a­nism are also needed.

Weak­nesses in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem are caus­ing prob­lems in in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity, so teach­ing staff will have to match mar­ket de­vel­op­ments, and univer­sity work must be put un­der as­sess­ment.

Un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits should turn into em­ploy­ment vouch­ers.

Co­op­er­a­tion be­tween ser­vices within min­istries, as well as be­tween the min­istries them­selves, must be en­hanced, while adopt­ing a sys­tem of as­sess­ment for the per­for­mance of civil ser­vants.

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