Economy to grow 4.5 pct in 2002

Greece’s economy will grow by 4.5 percent next year, despite adverse international conditions, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told reporters after the meeting of European Union’s finance ministers in Luxembourg late on Monday. This growth rate would be triple the EU’s expected rate for 2002. Greece is favored by the inflow of EU funds through the third Community Support Framework and an expected construction boom ahead of the 2004 Olympics. There is still widespread skepticism, however, over Papantoniou’s forecast. The finance ministers agreed that Europe will avoid a recession, but growth will slow markedly and will not pick up until the end of next year, and even then only slightly. The forecast for recovery is based on three premises: That the military operations in Afghanistan will succeed in dismantling Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network; that there will be no other major terrorist attacks; and that the front against terrorism, which includes Muslim states, will not split apart. The ministers agreed that the heavy indebtedness of many of the EU states precludes the use of big fiscal packages to boost their economies. They did agree, however, that there is room for a rate cut and are expected to put pressure on European Central Bank head Wim Duisenberg to act accordingly. Following the capital increases, Neorion’s equity capital now amounts to 23,463,874 shares valued at 6.39 billion drachmas.

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