Call for a concerted effort to improve competitiveness

Several government ministers served notice yesterday that they are willing to engage in open-ended dialogue with employers and unions in order to improve the Greek economy’s competitiveness. In an event organized by the Ministry of Development, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis presented the government’s strategy for further market deregulation and incentives for private investment; Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas urged businesspeople to undertake initiatives to boost competitiveness; Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis announced a restructuring of his ministry in order to render Greece’s international economic relations more effective; and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred to a series of measures aimed at cutting red tape. The government has declared 2005 to be the «year of competitiveness» and has committed itself to a concerted effort to help improve the flagging competitiveness of Greek goods and services. «The decision by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis – a decision made at the Development Ministry’s recommendation – to make 2005 the year of competitiveness, is a call for drawing up and applying a concerted, long-term national strategy to boost our economy’s competitiveness. It is the start of a continuous effort that will be the lasting mark of a New Development Policy that will lead Greece to 2010 and beyond,» Sioufas said. Sioufas said that several important structural reforms affecting the state and the economy will take place this year. He also announced a series of initiatives by his ministry which will highlight the need for higher competitiveness. These include over 50 similar awareness-raising events. On Monday, the ministry’s special secretariat for competitiveness will present a study on Greece’s application of the Lisbon Agenda, the ambitious EU plan for Europe to become a leader in technology and innovation. Two other studies proposing the creation of a European Development Institute and an Academy of Entrepreneurship will be presented in a few weeks’ time. Awareness of the need for greater competitiveness will be raised through two essay competitions, at high school and university level, on competitiveness. Also, businesses with significant export activities will be given special awards. Alogoskoufis told the gathering of the government’s intention to list the Postal Savings Bank and Athens International Airport on the Athens Stock Exchange. He announced a new law making it easier for individuals, companies or local authorities to submit proposals for funding under the EU’s Third Community Support Framework. He also announced that the EU was about to approve the new law on investment incentives and reiterated the government’s decision to introduce VAT on new constructions and simplify the property tax regime as well as to develop more public land presently held by the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation, the Tourism Development Company and Olympic Properties.

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