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22 August, 2002
The government would work closely with the markets and intensify the effort to keep inflation at acceptable levels, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
The meeting focused on recent economic developments in Greece and abroad, as well as the budget for 2003 and tax reforms.
Regarding inflation, Christodoulakis said that Greece had maintained and increased growth rates, which led to a significant increase in employment levels.
He admitted, however, that there were worrying developments as regards inflation, with Greek inflation continuing to exceed the rate in other European countries. This constituted a threat to Greek competitiveness and thus to Greek employment levels, he added.
New Central Bank Chief sees end-year inflation at 3.0 pct:
The country's new Central Bank chief, Nikos Garganas, said on Wednesday that he was optimistic inflation would drop to 3.0 percent by the end of the year.
Appointed this summer as governor of the Bank of Greece, Garganas told reporters that authorities should set as a target an inflation level below 2.0 percent.
''I think we are able to achieve this but care is required both in wage rises and in the fiscal area,'' he said after a meeting with the prime minister.
Garganas added that Greek inflation had remained discernibly higher than in the eurozone.
Also requiring attention were unemployment, which remained high despite a recent decline; and the balance of payments.
Finally, Garganas welcomed the country's high growth rates against European and US levels.
The central bank's estimate was growth of about 3.5 percent, he added.
Source: Athens News Agency