ECONOMY

ESEE calls for State action

The National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) yesterday urged the government to take action to reverse the current adverse climate brought on by a couple of recent high-profile corporate closures and bankruptcies. Such measures should also aim at attracting foreign investors and boosting employment in the country. «The climate for businesses today is bad. What is needed is action to create a climate which will allow companies to grow and create jobs,» said Christos Folias, president of the confederation. Folias sought to rationalize the closure and bankruptcies of several big-name businesses in recent weeks, saying that «failures will occur as long as there are companies.» He said small enterprises were folding on a daily basis without, however, making the headlines. Workers’ insecurity is due in part to the fact that they have yet to see the fruits of high economic growth, he said. The government could improve the climate by tackling the barriers holding back foreign investments, said Folias. «The main enemy of foreign investors is bureaucracy,» he said, citing the numerous procedures needed to set up a company, compared to the one-hour on-line process in Denmark. Folias also bemoaned the lack of infrastructure for e-commerce, an inadequate transportation infrastructure and a tax regime that «is hostile to companies.» «We should reduce corporate taxes every year so that in five years’ time, the rate would be half of today’s figure,» he proposed. He said failure to introduce competitive corporate tax rates could impact on companies’ competitiveness, deterring investors and leading to greater unemployment. Folias suggested that the government temporarily liberalize shop opening hours for the summer of the 2004 Olympic Games.