Head of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research and Minister of Economy in Panagiotis Pikramenos’ caretaker ministry, Yiannis Stournaras has proved to be the most suitable candidate for the ministerial seat of ill-fated Vassilis Rapanos. As GRReporter has found out, the three ruling parties New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left have preferred Stournaras as a unifying figure to take over the finance ministry in one of the most critical periods for Greece.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis at 7:30 pm to specify the last details. Stournaras has a long academic career as a Professor at the Athens University of Economics and he was an economic adviser in the government of Kostas Simitis. From the outset of the crisis, he has declared his support for the liberalization of the Greek economy and for the reforms in public administration.
In an interview for GRReporter in 2010, Yiannis Stournaras said, "The problem of the Greek economy grew in the last few years as a result of three new trends. The first two were related to the excessive increase of the expenses for salaries in the public sector (this includes the unsystematic hiring of and unreasonable increase of the salaries and the supplements for the public sector employees) and the expenses for pensions without the respective incomes in the social-security funds. The third is the long term lack of measures to fight tax frauds and the optimization of the control over the particular payment of the social security installments. The Foundation for economic and industrial research presented to the government a set of suggestions on how could we efficiently deal with these problems.
In his new role as finance minister, Stournaras will be able to implement all the necessary reforms on which he insisted as the head of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research. The measures proposed by him largely coincide with the rescue plan for the Greek economy drawn up by the supervisory Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A smaller public sector, relieving the various economic sectors from monopolistic influences, modernizing and simplifying the procedures in public administration are the core of both programmes. Simplifying the tax system also has an important role in improving the business climate in Greece, according to Stournaras and the credit partners of the country.
Greek business representatives gave their first enthusiastic comments about the new finance minister in the social networks: "He is very good and will do the job. He has international experience and presents Greece abroad well." Stournaras graduated from Oxford and participated in the economic team that prepared Greece to enter into the euro area. Foreign analysts are a bit more reserved and there are comments on Twitter like:
Following the first rumours that Yiannis Stournaras will be appointed finance minister, the Athens Stock Exchange has revived. Shortly before 2 pm, the main index of the Greek financial market jumped by almost one percent and reached 572.25 points. On Tuesday evening, the stock exchange closed with an increase of 1.6% and the turnover exceeded 46 million euro.