Greece's political system has been dragging its feet and resisting necessary changes and it was this that had undermined the policy of the Memorandum, the head of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) Dimitris Daskalopoulos said on Monday at a Bank of Greece general meeting.

"Nearly a year ago, in order to avoid bankruptcy, the country committed itself to an effort for overall reform within a specific time frame and measures, but these were undermined politically and implemented in a fragmented way. The failure that many attribute to the scarecrow of the Memorandum is in reality our own failure - our own foot-dragging," Daskalopoulos said.

He asserted that the prospect of default remained because the government had delayed making reforms while the opposition parties and clientelist political system had 'sabotaged' their implementation.

"In the end, we are collectively refusing to change culture," SEV's president stressed.

Referring to the debate underway about a possible restructuring of Greece's debt and whether this was a "inevitable evil" or a way of solving Greece's problems, Daskalopoulos noted that those recycling such ideas were failing to tell the public critical truths about such a course.

"Whatever form a debt restructuring were to take now, it would inevitably lead to even harsher measures, even greater sacrifices, an even greater lowering of living standards and greater poverty for the overwhelming majority of society," he stressed.
Even if restructuring were to take place as part of a broader European solution, he added, it would not absolve Greece from the need to make painful changes to modernise its economy and society.

Daskalopoulos also stressed that only such modernisation could bring about a rapid return to growth, which was the only real way of saving the country, and he emphasised that growth would not come about as a result of state planning, subsidies or any developmental policy mix.

"[Growth] comes when economically active citizens decide to invest and take risks. We will see growth from the real economy when there is not the huge uncertainty created by the spectre of national bankruptcy and the financial suffocation created by the collapse of the public sector," Daskalopoulos said.

SEV's president was strongly critical of those opposing the government's plans to exploit public real estate as a way of generating revenues to pay down debt, accusing critics of the plan of supporting the political party cliques and interest groups that had been busy looting the state sector for the past decades.

Daskalopoulos repeated the view that reforms, privatisations and the medium-term fiscal plan for 2012-2015 unveiled by the government were the "last chance" for the government to make the changes that would restore Greece's credibility abroad and provide a sustainable future at home.

He also called it the last chance for Greece's political system to act responsibly and tell people the truth about the difficulties that lay ahead and the cost that had to be paid.

"Change is a painful one-way street but all other roads lead straight off a cliff," he added, noting that the political system as a whole was responsible for the current situation and would be held responsible in its entirety in the case of a "national shipwreck".