"European taxpayers are worried about the Greek crisis and the money they have loaned Greece. The one question they ask is: will we get this money back, or is it pouring into a bottomless pit? I would suggest that we shine a torch into this pit in order to see what the bottom looks like, to understand what we're lacking and to see where potential lies.
Firstly, from a political point of view we need to bring these shortcomings to light and overcome them where possible. A first step in the right direction: the systematic analysis of satellite photos that reveal who has told lies in their tax return and kept quiet about the swimming pool in their backyard.
Secondly: in order for the 110 billion euro loans from EU states and the International Monetary Fund to be paid back on time, the Greek economy needs to function and show strong growth.
Consequently, Greece needs a successful action plan similar to the legendary Marshall Plan, which 60 years ago helped restart the German economy. In light of the size of the challenge, it is appropriate to call this the 'Hercules Plan' - after the mythical hero who had to complete twelve impossible [tasks]. In 2010 the duties for the Greeks, under the leadership of Prime Minister [Georgios] Papandreou, are also very challenging: they must turn the economy completely on its head.
Ostensibly we need to fight tax evasion, corruption and the black market. But behind these top problems, how does it look for the concrete restructuring of the economy? It is here in particular that I see some of our most interesting opportunities:
1. Domestic demand: In spite of the austerity measures, consumer demand needs to grow - and especially demand for Greek products. Therefore the government should start an EU-compliant 'made in Greece' initiative.
What adds to the situation is that the Greek retail industry is dominated by German chains. Hence future projects should, as with Tengelmann in Romania, be subject to regulations whereby 50% of their goods must come from the country in which they are operating.
2. Renewable energy: Greece has the most modern photovoltaic law in the world but it hasn't been put to good use. This is in spite of the fact that no European country has more sunny days than Greece.
3. Finance for small and medium-sized companies: Those wishing to invest in Greece often complain about problems finding finance. But the typical company loan will remain unattractive even for domestic banking, as long as banks can gain higher interest from selling government bonds.
4. Ocean transport: Greece has the biggest shipping industry in Europe. Greece could be the gateway to Europe, particularly for the Balkans and Central Europe. However, for this to become a possibility the infrastructure needs to be developed.
5. Information technology: The Greek IT industry is important, especially in the realm of eHealth. According to The Economist, Greek IT specialists belong to the top 20% of the worldwide IT industry. Considering the growing role of technology in the economy, this potential desperately needs to be cultivated.
6. Taxes: In Greece around 30 billion euros are lost per year in the black market. Honesty is scarce in the tax system and a lack of belief in the state has always been a Greek problem. The Greeks therefore need to start trusting state bodies. The Slovakian 'flat tax' concept could be a good way to raise tax receipts.
7. Administration: The public sector employs every fourth person in Greece. The bloated administration is deeply inefficient and is a large obstacle to competition. Papandreou needs to act and thanks to the helpful pressure of the IWF criteria, a number of measures have already been put in place.
8. Education: Greece education system is not fulfilling its potential and is suffering from a major 'Brain Drain'. In Germany alone there are around 5,600 Greek students and very few return home. Greece should therefore setup a central unit responsible for trying to turn back this brain drain.
9. Pensioners: The Greek pension funds are faced with crucial structural reforms. What we need is to give better return conditions to the Greeks living abroad who are claiming a pension there but would like to go back. The government could forge agreements with foreign states such as Australia to compensate Greece for taking care of pension claims.
10. Health tourism: Pensioners could also be an untapped potential for future health tourism. Greece with its skills and advantageous climate could attract patients from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
11. Agricultural goods: The Greek balance sheet is traditionally marked by shortfalls in trade balance and surpluses in the service industry. Consequently the country needs to concentrate on marketing its numerous high quality agricultural products such as olive oil.
12. Military spending: Greece plans to spend six billion euros, around 4.8% of its GDP, on defence. This sum could be substantially reduced, particularly through a more relaxed relationship with Turkey. This is a field where the EU could act more decisively than it has done so far.
According to the legend, Hercules needed a year to complete his labours. The Greeks will need more time but they have the basics in place - and an important gift: filotimo. This word encompasses virtue, honour and rectitude, but also pride.
If they grasp hold of this Greek filotimo, then as with the Olympics in 2004, they can develop their ambition and once again do great things."