17 May, 2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday reported that the economic climate was improving. "There is tangible evidence that the climate is improving. Greece is winning its daily battles, and has achieved major victories," Karamanlis told a general meeting of the Federation of Greek Industries.
"Over the past two years, basic innovations have been advanced, bold reforms, and substantive changes that guarantee safe but brisk growth in a sound fiscal environment. Among changes have been a drop in tax brackets, a new development law, the restoration of confidence in the capital market, and an objective and transparent framework for public works," he reported.
In addition, a reduction in the public deficit had been achieved employing mild methods, the growth rate was high, the economic climate index had improved, investment interest was intense through the growth law, and investment had risen among new firms.
Furthermore, competitiveness had improved according to a recent report by the Institute for Management Development, the absorption rate of European Community funds had risen, exports had surged, unemployment had declined, and tourism had increased, the prime minister said.
Among priorities for economic policy were a national land use plan, privatization focusing on banks, joint private and sector projects, deregulation of the energy market and revitalization of the wider public sector.
"We are seeking dialogue, understanding among the social partners and joint action by all," the premier noted.
Main opposition leader presents plan: Addressing the same meeting, the leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement presented the seven main points of his strategy if elected to government in the next general election.
The strategy focuses on reform in the state, macroeconomic policy, a social state, the taxation system, employment and education policy, business, economic extroversion, and ties between politicians and the business world.
"We will help to free you from the chains of bureaucracy and unfair competition. But we will also ask you to contribute to the formation of a powerful and effective social state, to employment and training policies," Papandreou said.
Finmin sees progress: Finance Minister George Alogskoufis told the meeting that progress was now visible and measurable.
He called on the federation's members to make use of the new business environment for the economy, investing in the country's future.
The minister added that many state owned companies had agreed to implement wage rises foreseen by the law.
New industry president: The federation's new president, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, told the assembly that the country's problems were long-standing, warning that Greece may be sidelined economically in the fairly near future.
The country may also find itself in a weak political position and burdened by social inequality,
"In order to achieve progress, what is needed is a climate of understanding and social cohesion. But the quest for consensus can no longer be a convenient alibi for procrastination and inaction," Daskalopoulos warned.
Source: Athens News Agency