In an interview with EurActiv, Michalis Chrysochoidis, the Greek minister for development and competitiveness, argues that austerity is not a panacea for Greece's problems but that his PASOK government plans to change the country's business outlook for the better.
Chrysochoidis, who will be speaking at the European Parliament today (7 September), is fighting an uphill battle as Greece faces international criticism for refusing to make further austerity cuts in order to obtain the next tranche of its international bailout at the end of the month.
A visit by a mission of ECB (European Central Bank), EU and IMF (International Monetary Fund) officials ended abruptly last Friday as Greece reportedly did not want to pursue an additional €1.7 billion worth of new austerity measures.
"As we all know austerity is necessary, but not sufficient. It is very important not to get trapped in the fiscal issue," Chrysochidis told EurActiv.
The minister outlined his party's ambitions to boost Greece's competitiveness by driving exports, fast-tracking new laws to promote business, employing EU cohesion funds and attracting foreign investors.
The Greek economy has recently become reliant on the success of its exports, which rose by 11% in 2010 and 40.4% in the first half of 2011. But foreign companies continue to leave the country and some sectors, like manufacturing, are shrinking.
Greece's total assets held by foreign companies are at an all-time low, while inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) have plummeted. According to an annual table compiled by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Greece ranked 119th in 2010, compared to 122nd in 2009 and 120th in 2008, from a total of 141 countries.
One-stop shops for faster business licences, new competition laws, €200 million of pending investments and the Business-Friendly Bill are all measures outlined by Chrysochoidis which will revive the Greek economy.
A committee was put together just last week to draft the Business Friendly Bill, which aims to improve conditions for entrepreneurs and small businesses and eliminate bureaucratic obstacles in public services.
Greece's score as a hub for foreign business was never glowing, but recently it has taken a nosedive.
In a recent assessment of the country's business climate, Coface, one of the world's leading trade credit insurers, issued a report saying that access to financial information was difficult while debt repayment and debt collection among companies had hit all-time lows.