05 April, 2005
Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday announced a new generation of privatizations, envisaging the joint participation of both the public and private sectors in the construction of infrastructure projects "which the public sector cannot fund nor can manage by itself".
Addressing a seminar on competitiveness, organized by Development ministry, the Greek minister said that a new draft legislation on this new generation of privatization would be unveiled in the next few days. Alogoskoufis also defined six points as the cause of low economic competitiveness in the country.
First, a failure of economic policy, second, an old-fashioned and slow-moving legislative framework on labor market, third, an ineffective, slow-moving and bureaucratic public sector, fourth, a vague law framework on the use of land, fifth, corruption and breach of competition rules in public sector assignments and sixth, lack of long-term planning.
Addressing the seminar, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas stressed that Greece ranked low on its competitiveness and noted that the government was working to restore the truth and improve economic performance.
Lack of transparency, bureaucracy, corruption and hurdles in creating new enterprises were undermining competitiveness, the Greek minister said, adding that Greek enterprises could start submitting their investment plans for support from a new development law from Tuesday.
Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas noted that the present situation could not be maintained for long, adding that past years' high growth rates were attributed to domestic demand a trend that was not sustainable in the long-term.
The central banker predicted that economic growth rate would slow in 2005 and noted that growth prospects were not clear in the medium-term. Garganas said that prices were rising faster in Greece, compared with other EU countries, noting that countries with high price levels could face low employment and growth levels.
The Greek central banker urged for socially-costly structural reforms, saying these reforms were necessary to protecting large sections of the society. "It is wrong to call such measures as austerity measures," Garganas said.
PASOK party deputy Mrs Anna Diamantopoulou, addressing the seminar, said steps were made in the last few years with the aim to improve the country's economic competitiveness, but not with the necessary speed because of lack of necessary consensus. Diamantopoulou urged the government to present specific proposals towards this direction and urged that 40 percent of a Fourth Community Support Framework should be earmarked for education, and training of human resources.
A survey presented during the seminar showed that Greece was at the bottom of a world list of competitiveness. Another survey by professor Spyros Makridakis showed that an 1.0 percent improvement of the Greek economy's world competitiveness index could lead to a 6.1 percent rise in per capita income in the country.
Source: Athens News Agency