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28 June, 2000
Greece is targeting growth rates which will largely narrow the gap in living standards from the rest of the European Union in the next ten years, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday.
"Greece is targeting growth rates of at least 5 percent in the next ten years, which will mean real convergence, that is, a parity in living standards with the rest of Europe," he told reporters after the end of the first day's session of the annual ministerial conference of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The agenda of this year's conference, which ends on Wednesday, is focusing on the subject of new technologies and globalization, and their impact on the economies and societies of the organization's 29 member states.
Papantoniou expressed confidence that Greece would succeed in implementing a large-scale program of structural changes until the end of 2001, which would significantly, boost the competitiveness of the economy.
"I believe that the institutional initiatives which will put the structural changes on course will have been completed until the end of 2001. The goal is the attainment of a particularly competitive position by 2002, when we adopt the euro, in order to be able to reap the full benefits of European Economic and Monetary Union," he said.
Papantoniou predicted that by the end of 2001 the Greek public sector would be smaller than in most other EU member-states and Greek firms would be well placed to compete in Europe through the introduction of new technologies.
He said the government's program of structural changes was six-pronged: Privatization's, the deregulation of the telecommunications and energy markets early in 2001, a reduction in company taxes - particularly on small ones, the promotion of entrepreneurship through lower interest rates and venture capital schemes, the simplification of bureaucratic procedures, and large investments in information technology in education.
Finally, Papantoniou said his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, who will be president of the European Economic Council in the next six months, proposed Greece's full participation in the euro zone group of countries ahead of its official accession on January 1, 2001.
Source: Athens News Agency