Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told foreign businessmen yesterday Greece is embarking on a new course and they can only gain by investing in it. «I urge you to view Greece as a top choice destination for new investment and business activity. Its future prospects, modern infrastructure and our declared resoluteness in changing things provide guarantees for successful performance,» he said in an address to the Athens Business Club 2004, the forum designed to forge contacts during the Olympics. «I realize the challenges are strong and our goals very high. Yet the opportunities are also great. We are fully aware of the difficulties, as well as of the possibilities, and I am certain that we will succeed just as we succeeded in organizing an extremely successful Olympiad.» Alogoskoufis said the government strives to win on two main fronts: bringing about spectacular improvement in the competitiveness of the economy and setting public finances on a healthy footing by reducing public debt. He said the measures the government is determined to push through include tax reforms, notably a reduction in company taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent within a three-year period, incentives for mergers and acquisitions, the cutting of red tape – which is largely responsible for stifling new investment – and a new investment incentives law, which will encourage investment in capital-intensive industries and new technologies. Regarding the effort to control public finances, Alogoskoufis said it will include measures for reducing the waste of public money; the introduction of a new, transparent framework for public procurements and the utilization of public property. «Tax reductions, the rehabilitation of the public sector, the opening of ‘closed shop’ markets and the creation of new ones, the abolition of red tape and the multiplicity of laws that increase uncertainty and discourage investment are only a few of the instruments we shall use,» he said. The highly valued Olympic facilities are also expected to yield benefits in the future. «With their proper utilization and the help of private enterprise, public revenues will increase, the cost of maintenance will be met and they will make a greater contribution to tourism, sport, culture and society in general,» he said. Alogoskoufis predicted the rates of growth of the Greek economy will remain for many years to come among the highest in the European Union.