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31 October, 2001
Reducing unemployment is the highest priority of the government's policy, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told reporters on Tuesday.
"The government's top criterion - in contrast to other parties - is to ensure jobs even through a privatization process, because boosting economic activity creates new job positions and increases employment," he said.
Commenting on a privatization drive, Christodoulakis said the state was not a businessman and announced the creation of a new evaluation system for enterprises in the wider public sector using investment consultants, domestic and foreign.
The government will submit its budget to parliament on Wednesday, 21 November, Christodoulakis said.
Drafting of next year's budget was determined by two fundamental factors: a procedure for a full integration in the eurozone. "We must always look for improving competitiveness through the creation of infrastructure, reducing production cost and upgrading human workforce. This policy will help in improving the country's trade balance and completing deregulation of markets."
"There are signs of recession in the world economy," Christodoulakis said and predicted a recomposition of international investments. "We must be in constant alter to pursue growth. All policies must aim in strengthening business activity and creating new jobs," he said.
The government will promote privatization and strategic alliances in the domestic banking sector and create a new framework for the operation of the housing credit market.
Christodoulakis said that the country's cooperative banks were suffering both from lack of liquidity and targets to ensure depositors.
He said that the government would enhance the supervision of the country's capital markets and would offer incentives and rationalize investment behavior. Christodoulakis also announced a state intervention in the domestic insurance market.
He declined to make any predictions on the stock market saying that "markets know better the course of the stock exchange. The government's work is to promote policies for economic growth. The stock market is a development tool but the government cannot make predictions."
Source: Athens News Agency