ECONOMY

The day after comes on the agenda

The government is now focusing its attention on the economy’s day-after-the-Olympics, and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s traditional keynote economic policy speech at the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), which starts on September 11. The economic situation is assessed as «difficult and complex,» and ministers are mindful that the grace period will be over after the Olympics. The optimism and confidence exhibited by the government today will soon face the test of providing solutions to real problems. Karamanlis and Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis met for a discussion of the post-Olympics economic scene yesterday and, according to sources, set as top priority the maintenance of high growth rates, which, however, will have to be pursued within the constraints of European Union requirements for straightening derailed public finances. Alogoskoufis told the prime minister that positive results are to be achieved by the combined effect of a new tax and structural adjustments policy and healthy investment incentives framework, compatible with the requirements of a globalized economy. Attracting foreign investment is seen as top priority for the government and the most indispensible instrument for creating new wealth. The government is said to be deeply concerned about projections of slower rates of growth after the Olympics. While many are speaking of the leeway afforded by redirecting funds previously needed for Olympic projects to the developmental effort (estimated at about 1.0-1.5 percent of gross domestic product annually), others argue it is now time to face the fact most of that money was simply borrowed and will have to be repaid.