ECONOMY

Minister to fight global slowdown

Public investments, community funds, market deregulation and a series of government measures are expected to drive the Greek economy forward this year, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis stated yesterday. Addressing members of the Federation of Greek Industries, he said the government’s two-pronged strategy to counter the global economic slowdown centers on mobilizing local resources and pushing ahead with structural reforms. This includes expanding the public investment program, expected to amount to 6.4 percent of gross domestic product this year. «State investments will account for 1.5 percent of the projected 3.8 percent national output growth this year,» he said. Community funds will contribute a similar percentage. The minister said a series of measures such as market deregulation, the privatization of state-owned entities and schemes to boost entrepreneurship should boost growth as well. Referring to Greece’s plans to become the financial hub for southeastern Europe, Christodoulakis said it was vital that banks, insurance companies, the capital market commission, the stock exchange, stockbrokers and businessmen all play a part in helping realize this objective. In the meantime, the Athens Stock Exchange has already taken steps in this direction, as it considers allowing southeastern European-based companies to list their stocks on the Greek market. It is also seeking to link up with a major European bourse with the aim of creating a blue chip market for southeast Europe. The minister also pointed out the various schemes drawn up by the government to attract foreign direct investments. The adoption of the euro, impending structural reforms and the 2004 Olympic Games are expected to attract foreign investors to the country.