Dr. Alex Bebler
I am going to discuss a matter which is widely discussed by the Greek governmental press and other papers.
The budget of the Athens Government was drafted for a period of 15 months, from April 1, 1947 to June 30, 1948; i.e. it was planned to coincide with the duration of American aid. To balance this budget a whole series of new taxes were levied. Nevertheless, all this did not prevent a deficit in the budget. Expenditure exceeded receipts by 207 billion drachmas and the new direct taxes consequently caused a constant rise in the cost of living and a serious fall of the value of the drachma.
The general index of prices, taking 1938 for the basis, rose to 166.9 in May, 1947; to 255.8 in December, 1947, and to 291.1 in August, 1948. The index of twenty basic food items amounted to 164.9 in December, 1947, and to 309.1 in August, 1948. The index of industrial products increased to 306.6 in the same period. Consequently, from the month of May, 1947, till August, 1948, prices rose by 80%. The wages of the workers and the salaries of employees did not increase and their real value decreased to 50% of pre-war value. Thus is seen the dire misery into which the toiling masses of Greece have been plunged by the so-called American aid to Greece.
The American Mission has not succeeded in stabilizing the drachma or in checking inflation. On the contrary, the drachma is falling from day to day and the amount of money in circulation is increasing.
In September, 1947, 763 billion drachmas were in circulation, while on July 15th, 1948, the amount in circulation reached the figure of 1 trillion 72 billion drachmas. In May, 1947, one dollar was worth 7,600 drachmas, while in August, 1948, the dollar was worth 14,000 drachmas.
As to Greek industrial production, it has also suffered a considerable decline since the so-called American aid began. According to the data of the Federation of Greek Industrialists, the general index of industrial production, taking 1939 as the basis, amounted to 74.4 in October, 1947, and to 65.5 in March, 1948. The above facts show that the effect of the flood of dollars poured by the United States of America into Greece in the course of the last year, totalling 606 million dollars in 1947-48, has been to make the economic situation of the country constantly worse.