ECONOMY

Games to bring change

The Greek business community is optimistic regarding the long-term impact of the Athens Olympics on the economic environment of the country, and expects important structural changes in the economy to accelerate come September. During a press conference yesterday in Athens, Drakoulis Fountoukakos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), presented a number of initiatives undertaken by EBEA in seeking to enhance the «outward-looking dynamics» of the Greek economy. He said Greek companies are assisting the Olympic effort by showing restraint in the price rises of goods and services during the period of the Games. «No price rises were registered in Athens during the period leading to the Olympics, whereas the experience from other host countries shows price increases of up to 30 percent. Official figures, provided by Greece’s National Statistics Service, paint a picture of stable price rises prior to the Olympics, with the Consumer Price Index remaining constant in July at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, while the rate of price increases four years ago in Sydney and prior to the Olympics were double the annual average,» said Fountoukakos. He acknowledged that instances of profiteering might have occurred but, he added, they did not represent the rule. Fountoukakos said that the expected benefits from the staging of the Olympics have not materialized to date, but added he is looking forward to the aftermath of the Games and to September when the Greek government is expected to announce its policies for the economy, anticipated to mark a turning point. «The State has failed as an entrepreneur and it will have to limit its role to the overall management of the economy on a macro level, leaving the production of wealth to the business community.» Fountoukakos announced that along with the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) and the Hellenic Center for Investment (ELKE), EBEA will seek after the Olympics to have one of the facilities used for the Games become an exhibition center. EBEA has undertaken the following initiatives for the period of the Games: – A special bureau open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in order to serve the needs of members of the international business community in the Greek capital (7 Academias Street). Specific information bulletins have been prepared on about 200 Greek companies. – Kiosks within the Olympic facilities in order to provide information and highlight aspects of the Greek economy. – A special publication titled «Trade with Greece» and a CD ROM covering trade subjects will be supplied free of charge. – Collections of Greek postal stamps will be made available to the public by EBEA, along with a DVD concerning Greek companies. This is already promoted throughout the tram network and on Olympic Airlines flights – EBEA will participate in a program, planned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, regarding the business optimization benefits from the Olympic Games.