19 September, 2006
The strong growth of the Greek economy will continue over the coming years, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis predicted on Monday, speaking on the sidelines of the annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank conferences being held in Singapore. He also urged Greek enterprises to further burst their outwardness, taking advantage of participation opportunities in World Bank projects.
Alogoskoufis said that the rate of growth of the Greek economy could potentially be revised to a level above the 3.8 percent predicted in the state budget, due to the fact that interest rates in Greece remained at historically low levels, despite the increases announced by the European Central Bank.
Greece also benefited from the recovery of the European economy, Alogoskoufis added.
Regarding inflation, Alogoskoufis noted the concern of the finance ministers of the countries attending the conference over the upward pressures caused by the high oil prices internationally.
He said that 3.2 percent remained the targeted inflation rate for Greece in 2006, as predicted in the budget, and stressed that, in every instance, the data that will arise over the next few months, until the end of the year, would be evaluated.
On the European economy, Alogoskoufis said that all forecasts indicated that the current recovery would continue. He conveyed the concern that existed, however, over the prospect of the planned increase in VAT in Germany by 3 percentage points as of January 1, 2007 will result in a reduction in consumption in that country, which he said was the steam engine of the European economy.
Regarding the inflationary repercussions created in the economies by the high price of oil, the determination of the central banks' governors for confronting them was expressed during the IMF conference.
Alogoskoufis further said that finance ministers were reserved on the prospect of a further decline of the real estate market in the US, which would have significant repercussions on the US economy and, by extension, on the global economy.
The Greek economy and finance minister also urged Greek enterprises to further boost their outwardness, taking advantage of the opportunities for participation in World Bank projects.
He said the goal was to increase the participation of Greek companies in World Bank projects, estimated at 20 billion dollars on an annual basis.
In recent years, due to the initiatives undertaken, the participation of Greek firms in World Bank projects has risen substantially, jumping to 24.5 million dollars in 2005 from just one million dollars in 2003 and 2004, Alogoskoufis noted.
He said among the new initiatives being undertaken for better briefing and preparation of Greek enterprises regarding the terms and conditions for participation in the international tenders for World Bank projects was the organization of a seminar for consulting firms.
In light of the World Bank conference, he said, specialized information would appear on the ministry's website to provide information to the private sector on the World Bank's system of procurements, while a specialized electronic bulletin was being prepared that would provide information on running tenders, instructions, and other useful information.
The ministry would also organize, in cooperation with the World Bank, a conference on liberalization of the network and infrastructures markets in SE Europe, with the central message of "Greece as a model of development in SE Europe", he said.
Finally, the pilot project Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) was also being advanced, which provides for the creation of a network of contacts of the Greek commerce and industry chambers and organizations such as the Hellenic Exports Promotion Organization (HEPO) and the Exports Council with corresponding chambers and organizations in Africa through use of the GDLN teleconferencing infrastructure.
The project was being carried out by the World Bank, with funding from the ministry.
Source: Athens News Agency