A plea for less red tape

The European Union ought to lift bureaucratic obstacles that hamper the flexibility and competitiveness of companies, contributing to the creation of competitive advantages through further liberalization of markets and services, and labor market flexibility, Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos told the ninth «The Economist» conference in Athens yesterday. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Kyriakopoulos said the law on overtime remuneration passed by former labor minister Tassos Yiannitsis raised the costs for enterprises, and therefore did nothing for employment. If we want new jobs we cannot secure them by raising company costs, he said. Kyriakopoulos also said that the chapter of the «basic shareholder» law, which severely restricts the ability of media shareholders from participating in other sectors of economic activity, is closed and the government must now find a more efficient way to undo entangled interests. «We employers are reacting,» he said, «not to protect anyone but because this law increases costs for enterprises and bureaucracy,» he said. General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos replied that workers will give a dynamic answer to these policies, branding Kyriakopoulos’s views as «dead-end and anti-labor» for seeking to undo labor rights. In a statement he dubbed SEV’s demands as «persistently one-sided,» aiming at abolishing the eight-hour workday and fostering flexible labor relations without social security. On a more optimistic note, telecoms equipment maker Intracom’s CEO Giorgos Deliyiannis told the conference that «Greece can set as an immediate and realistic target its inclusion by 2010 among the top 10 EU states in the information technology and telecommunications sector.» Deliyiannis added that the responsibility for meeting this target lies with the political and business leadership. The state, he said, must build an environment favoring innovation through tax incentives, capital available and efficient administration. Major projects, particularly in the public sector, must be promoted through mutually beneficial public-private partnerships. The business leadership must invest in technologically crucial projects and be active in technology markets that cross borders. SEV Vice President and Delta Holdings Chairman Dimitris Daskalopoulos stressed that the entrepreneurial class is a modernizing factor. Modernization, he said, is determined by such rules as transparency in the production process and the application of quality systems, which are fast gaining in importance.

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