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2018 OECD Economic Surveys: Greece 2018

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Greece is on track to recover from a deep depression. Reforms have gathered pace and fiscal consolidation has strengthened credibility, lowering uncertainty. Exports have led the expansion and labour market reforms have improved competitiveness, supporting employment growth, but wages and productivity remain low. Real investment has yet to recover due to tight financial conditions and structural impediments. The tax collection system is improving, but the tax system still relies on high rates and narrow bases, hampering growth and creating inequities. The public debt remains high and is a source of vulnerabilities. Reducing the debt ratio will hinge on raising long-term growth, maintaining prudent fiscal policy and additional debt restructuring as needed. Improving processes to negotiate employment agreements, better matching workers’ skills with workplaces’ needs, strengthening firms’ incentives to innovate and train workers in addition to continuing social protection reforms will raise employment and wages, and reduce poverty. The government has improved important areas of the investment climate, but more is required to fully implement the product market reforms already passed, improve regulatory quality and transparency, fight corruption and address informality. Reducing non-performing loans and phasing out capital controls while preserving financial stability will improve financing conditions and boost confidence.

SPECIAL FEATURES: BOOSTING INVESTMENT; SUPPORTING INCOMES THROUGH EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL PROTECTION

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Generating employment, raising incomes and addressing poverty

Employment is pivotal to strengthening the economic recovery, increasing social welfare and redressing poverty. Jobs are returning, making inroads into high unemployment, but their wages and skill levels are lower than many that were lost during the crisis. Greece’s hiring is benefiting from more flexible arrangements. Legislative amendments can maintain this flexibility, ensure wages align with productivity and better protect individuals from labour market risks. Ensuring that workers possess skills that match employers’ needs will sustain employment and productivity growth. Improving the education system is a long-term mission and involves raising its pedagogical strength and orientation towards professional needs. A social welfare system dominated by pensions has not been able to prevent a steep hike in poverty among children and the young, risking long-term harm to well-being. Pursuing recent steps towards a better targeted social protection, accompanied by support programmes for jobseekers, will provide a reliable safety net and reduce poverty.

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