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09 April, 1997
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told a conference yesterday that Greece was just "a stone's throw away" from meeting the criteria of the European Union's Maastricht Treaty, calling for decisive action in both the public and private sectors to bridge the remaining gap.
The annual "Roundtable with the Greek Government" held by the Economist Intelligence Unit opened on Monday night with a speech by Germany's former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
Mr. Papantoniou, saying Greece was the only EU member-state to have made such great strides towards convergence in such a short time, called for a faster rate of privatization and share offers, the deregulation of the markets, the attraction of private capital for public works and support in making Greek enterprises more competitive.
He predicted that the public deficit would fall to 4.2 per cent of GNP by the end of the year and that inflation would drop to 4.5 per cent. Over the next five to ten years, added Mr. Papantoniou, it was expected that the inflow of foreign capital would continue at an increased rate, irrespective of the level of interest rates due to the trust displayed by foreign investors.
He dismissed concern over the large current accounts deficit, saying that over the next two to three years it was expected to be at the level of 4.5 to five billion US dollars, but would be easily funded.
Source: Athens News Agency