Pressing tasks laid out

Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said yesterday that «the time has come to move from words to deeds» in bolstering the competitiveness of the Greek economy. Presenting his ministry’s report, titled «The Lisbon Strategy: Targets and Progress Toward their Attainment» (photo), Sioufas said the basic instruments of this drive will be the government’s new taxation and investment incentives laws and the new system for licensing enterprises. The minister noted that Greece is among the laggards in the old, 15-member EU in attaining the targets of the Lisbon strategy, set in 2000 with the goal of making the EU economy the world’s most competitive by 2010. Sioufas said there will be a sustained effort, as attainment of the targets is an economic and social necessity. The report points out that Greece’s competitiveness is not just low but keeps falling. According to a study by the International Institute for Management Development, Greece held 31st place in the world league of competitiveness in 2001, and fell to 42nd and 44th in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The report includes proposals for structural changes, such as deregulation of the energy, transport and telecommunications markets, the application of sound fiscal policies, emphasis on regional development, simplification of the maze of legislation, promoting research and innovation and bolstering entrepreneurship. Sioufas also presented the ministry’s new website ( which deals with competitiveness issues. An EU report by the Kok committee last year pinpointed Greece’s drawbacks as high debt, long-term unemployment, particularly among women, delayed social security reform, lack of competition in the energy market and delays in adopting Community directives. The prime minister’s office has responsibility for drafting a national action plan and the coordination of strategy for the Lisbon agenda. The EU spring summit will make an interim review of the agenda.

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