Funds, tax incentives

National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis did not rule out yesterday the possibility of a quick reform to the tax issue, mentioning some mature issues in the packet of reform that may be dealt with in changes to the law within 2002. But he did not provide more details, referring instead to the Cabinet meeting on Thursday that will approve the final draft of next year’s state budget. In his comments yesterday, Christodoulakis also stressed the need to speed up the application of the EU’s third Community Support Framework so as to hasten the absorption of funds in 2002. Applying the program, he said, must be done in combination with the involved agencies promising to increase employment. The government is obviously resorting to the two available ways to boost economic activity: EU funds and tax incentives. Regarding the time frame for providing family subsidies to both husband and wife, he referred to the statements that he will make when presenting the budget on November 21. On another issue, he said that the issue of a single wage scale for all employees in the civil service was still being debated by the interested parties. On Olympic Airways, Christodoulakis said that the deadline for the adviser to present a final proposal for the sale of the national carrier was November 15. Regarding the growth rate, he said that it will come to 3.8 percent of GDP in 2002 (from 4.1 percent in 2001), while average inflation is estimated to come to 2.7 percent next year from this year’s average of about 3 percent. Referring to the public debt, Christodoulakis stressed that its reduction remained a basic priority of fiscal policy. He avoided committing himself to the amount of public debt for 2001, implying that this would be close to the original forecasts of 98.9 percent of GDP. The third giant drill used to open the Athens metro lines has arrived in the port of Lavrion, it was announced yesterday. The components of the drill, named Athena (the other two were Jason and Persephone), will require 12 days to make the journey between Lavrion and the Plakentias station in northern Athens, from where it will open a tunnel to Stavros, Aghia Paraskevi, extending the Syntagma-Ethniki Amyna line.

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