Ladies and gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I address you today on the occasion of the 23rd Annual Capital Link. The first one to be taking place with physical presence after two consecutive virtual forums.
After almost three years in government, we are now able to take stock of both the policies that we have put in place and the results being delivered. We are now a resilient nation with confidence in our future.
In 2021, the Greek economy bounced back stronger than expected, exceeding its pre-pandemic level by the end of the year. And unemployment has dropped faster than elsewhere, below its pre-pandemic level, and to its lowest rate since 2010.
But of course we know that our job is far from over. We can ill-afford complacency. 2022 is no less turbulent than the previous years. The war in Ukraine poses a grave challenge on multiple fronts. Inflation is affecting households and businesses both in Europe and the US. And of course the pandemic is always on the backburner.
The good news is that Greece’s standing in the world is very different from where we found ourselves three years ago. We have proven that we can overcome great challenges and deliver change for the better.
Last week we announced that Greece has paid off its entire debt from the financial crisis to the International Monetary Fund, two years ahead of schedule.
Large multinationals are making significant investments in a variety of sectors; from tourism to datacenters; and from renewables to semiconductor technology.
Greek businesses are becoming more competitive, dynamic and extrovert in their effort to thrive in an ever-changing world.
And our country is turning into a significant tech hub, with Greek startups growing rapidly and forming partnerships with global leaders in their respective fields.
In this context, it comes as no surprise that many Greeks who left the country over the years of the crisis are contemplating coming back, and actually acting on it. Their international experience is a valuable asset for us. As more opportunities arise, more Greeks of the so-called brain drain generation will choose to grasp them. And as the talent pool grows, more businesses will choose to invest in Greece, leading to a virtuous cycle for the economy and the country as a whole.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Back in 2019, in my first address to Capital Link as Prime Minister, I laid out the government’s ambitious agenda in various policy areas. I talked about our aim to reduce taxation and social security contributions; I referred to PPC’s restructuring plan; our efforts to digitize the state; and our target to slash NPEs in the banking sector.
Almost three years later, and despite a pandemic and several other crises that came along, we have made good on our promises. Taxes and social security contributions have been cut; shares in the Public Power Corporation have surged almost tenfold and the company completed a very successful capital increase; our state digitalisation efforts are well under way; and our four systemic banks are on track for single-digit NPEs next year.
And of course there is more to come. I can assure you that our appetite for reforms continues unabated.
On top of our already ambitious agenda, we have the accelerating force of Greece 2.0, Greece’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, a comprehensive set of investments and reforms. Our country is the recipient of over 30 billion euros in grants and low interest loans. The majority of those will facilitate our plans for the green transition and the digital transformation. The entirety of the loans is being directed to the private sector through the banking system in a transparent and efficient way.
It is my firm belief that – as the title of this year’s conference suggests – Greece is indeed entering a new era. In this proud chapter, every Greek, irrespective of where he or she lives, can play an active role in our collective effort.
Together we are building something very special. And I am very grateful to you all.
Thank you and I wish you every continued success.