New York, NY – In the context of the ongoing intense political activity in Greece and visits by members of the Greek Parliament to New York City and Washington, D.C., the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chapter of AHEPA, Delphi 25, on June 13 met with MP Harry Theoharis as part of his trip to the U.S.
The dinner meeting that was held in Midtown Manhattan at the Ammos Estiatorio featured an informative discussion and debriefing of the current state of affairs in Greece.
MP Theoharis, an AHEPA member himself, updated the guests on the political and economic situation in Greece and Europe and provided insights on the root causes of the crisis and possible solutions.
MP Theoharis, a technocrat with studies and experience in IT and banking in London transitioned into politics after serving as Secretary General of Information Systems at the Ministry of Finance and then Secretary General for Public Revenue. He joined the newly founded centrist party Potami in 2015 and was sent to Parliament in both elections that were held that year.
In April 2016, however, he departed, voicing concerns over the Potami party’s strategy, and became an independent MP.
According to MP Theoharis the Greek economic crisis, although affected by global developments, is to a large extent caused by the confluence of problems within the political system, an overblown fiscal budget and the of inefficiencies in public administration. Although much has been said and done regarding reforms, these key problems have not yet been addressed.
Guests also received in-depth information on the level of tax-evasion, corruption and illegal commerce, which although present have been blown out of proportion by the international press.
MP Theoharis suggested growth opportunities in areas such as high value added products and services, energy, education and culture and noted that regional partnerships with Israel in technology can provide employment for engineers and country brand building can support exports.
Increasing the efficiency of the public sector, especially in the areas of attracting new investments and tax collection should be a priority, Theoharis said. He also noted that while privatizations can attract funds and create jobs, they should not be carried out under current “fire sale” conditions. He also referred to other issues affecting financing and economic development such as challenges in the banking sector, capital controls, non-performing loans, labor laws, the recently enacted development law as well as the political fragmentation and instability.
He further addressed the geopolitical situation in Greece’s vicinity such as the war in Syria, Turkey’s aggression, terrorism, developments in the Balkans, and immigration and migration.
He concluded with the common belief that the current debt and tax burden is not sustainable and praised the IMF’s views on those issues, however, he does not foresee any positive attitude changes in Germany and EU on the matters.
The AHEPA members provided views on how the crisis has affected the image of Greece and of the Greek diaspora and specifically the Greek-Americans in the US and voiced their opinions and concerns regarding the situation in Greece.
Issues addressed were ways and means that AHEPA, and the Greek- American community in general, could assist Greece such as through travelling, buying Greek products, donations for medical supplies or for supporting other vital state functions. Discussion also involved investment sectors such as financial services, outsourcing, real estate, tourism, energy and mining.
MP Theoharis welcomed suggestions and volunteered a communication channel regarding inquiries on Greek regulations, investments and trade between US and Greece. He is also positive in the discussion over enabling voting for Greek-Americans and Greek citizens abroad.
Finally MP Theoharis announced his plan to establish, along with other politicians, a movement for the modernization of the political institutions and the decision making process in Greece. In order to correct the root causes behind the economic crisis and spur growth he proposes the transition towards a political system resembling that of the US where not only the ruling party and the Prime Minister participate in decision making that is more equitable.