10 October, 2007
The Greek government’s top economic policy priorities include eliminating fiscal deficits by 2010 and promoting economic reforms, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis reiterated here on Tuesday.
Addressing an EU Economy and Finance Ministers’ Council in Luxembourg, the Greek minister briefed the council over the country’s positive economic prospects and the challenges ahead. Alogoskoufis said the most significant achievement of the Greek economy over the last few years was its high growth rates, around 4.0 percent annually in the period from 2005 to 2007.
He underlined that economic growth mainly reflected private investments and exports, while per capita GDP rose from 73.8 pct of the EU average in 2003 to 80.1 pct in 2007. Alogoskoufis also noted that several macro-economic imbalances were effectively resolved in the past few years, such as a decrease in the fiscal deficit to 2.5 pct of GDP this year, from 8.0 pct in 2004 and a decline in the inflation and unemployment rates.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged that despite progress made, the Greek economy still faced significant problems and noted that the government would continue working towards eliminating fiscal deficits by 2010, as well as promoting a second wave of reforms aimed at sustaining growth rates and boosting investments and exports. These measures include more privatisations, promoting joint projects between private and public sector companies, simplifying business activity and the tax system.
Alogoskoufis said the government aimed at improving the drafting of state budgets and the control of spending by public enterprises, local authorities and healthcare agencies. Efforts will continue towards combating tax evasion and expanding the tax base in the country. Alogoskoufis told his ECOFIN counterparts that reforming the country’s pension system was a top priority for the government and that a draft law was expected to be tabled to Parliament in the first six months of 2008. He noted that next year’s budget envisages a fiscal deficit of 1.7 pct of GDP next year.
Commenting on a GDP revision, Alogoskoufis said it was a technical matter managed by the national statistical service and Eurostat. He underlined that both sides, using the same methodology, agreed that the country’s GDP should be revised upwards by 9.6 percent and noted that this decision was a positive development.
Source: Athens News Agency