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'Giving another bailout to Greece is like giving money to a drug addict'

“Maybe [Tsipras] didn’t really have a plan.”

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a parliament meeting in Athens.
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a parliament meeting in Athens.
Image: Thanassis Stavrakis

KONSTANTINOS DRAKAKIS HAS been living in Ireland since 2006.

He came here to take up a lecturing post at UCD and now works as chief quantitative officer at investment management research company Probability Dynamics.

Drakakis is also the president of the Hellenic Community of Ireland – a group that represents about half of the 2,000 or so Greek people living here.

He has been keeping a close eye on developments in his home country.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Business he said giving another bailout to Greece is “like giving money to a drug addict”.

Drakakis said his comments were intended to imply that Greece “just like a drug addict, is going to act like a consumer” and has “no concept of how to get an investment out of this money”.

He said any funds lent to Greece must be well-managed and some set aside for investment in areas such as agriculture, tourism and industry to “jumpstart” the economy – which has “grounded to a halt”.

Drakakis noted the previous government “spent the money it had without investing” and “kept borrowing in order to repay what they borrowed before”.

“Very harsh” plan

During the week, the Greek parliament voted in favour of an austerity bill designed to prepare the country for a third Troika bailout.

The final vote was 229 in favour, 64 against and six abstentions. Some 32 Syriza MPs voted against the cuts, with six abstaining, out of the party’s total of 149 MPs.

The party’s leader, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said he doesn’t believe in the deal but will implement it.

Greece Bailout Riot police try to avoid petrol bombs thrown by anti-austerity protesters in Athens. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Drakakis said these “very harsh” measures will be particularly hard for Greeks to swallow as they voted down a similar plan in the recent referendum.

The new proposals include raising taxes, reforming the country’s pension and VAT schemes and cracking down on tax dodgers.

Drakakis said there is “lots of doubt” as to whether or not the measures will improve the current situation.

“I don’t know if they will resolve the problems. There is no question that Greece needs reform.”

‘A mess’

Drakakis described the bailout referendum as “a mess”, saying it was largely pointless to get people to vote on measures that had already been taken off the table.

[The Greek people] have endured five years of austerity and voted No as a result of that, only to be told ‘Oh sorry, we have to do it again’.

Drakakis said the No vote consolidated the position of Syriza and the prime minister and “rallied support”.

Greece Bailout Demonstrators march during an anti-austerity rally in the northern Greek port city of Thessalonik. Source: AP/Press Association Images

He added that the referendum “would have made sense” if Tsipras went to Brussels and said Greece doesn’t need euro and is going back to the drachma.

He probably expected the lenders to cave in and give in to his demands but then realised he didn’t have any alternative. Maybe he didn’t really have a plan.

Drakakis said he doesn’t believe Greece is ready to drop the euro, but this may yet happen.

Even if Greece wanted to get out [of the eurozone] I don’t think it has the ability to make a well-coordinated exit.

Drakakis visited his home country in May, but said he has no intentions of returning there permanently.

“Ireland has had its problems but at the same time it is a sufficiently well-organised country for somebody to be able to live comfortably and easily. It’s different in Greece, there’s a lot of bureaucracy in Greece.”

Read: EU okays parliament vote as #BoycottGermany trends

Read: Eurozone ministers to make ‘major’ decision on Greece tomorrow

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