Corruption and entangled vested interests, of which most Greeks are widely aware, are a burden on the country’s competitiveness, Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos said yesterday. Speaking at SEV’s «Open Forum on Competitiveness and Development,» he said the lack of competitiveness suffocates private initiative, particularly in the domain of small businesses, and traps the country in a vicious circle of stagnation. «We must find viable solutions which society will be able to accept, for without consensus we can achieve nothing,» Kyriakopoulos said. He said more flexibility was needed in the hours and places of work. «Our ultimate aim is, first, to urge the political leadership and society to realize that the conditions and requirements for progress today are different from the past. Second, to find ways of taking steps forward as a nation. It is regrettable and offensive for all to see our country not only among the laggards but continuously losing ground in a series of international indices for development and quality of life,» Kyriakopoulos said. European Union Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding told the same event that the delay in the development of the information society in Greece acted a brake on the local business community. She noted that only 1 percent of the population used broadband applications, against an EU average of 11 percent, ranking Greece 24th among the 25 member states. Greece also lags behind in the use of fast Internet (ADSL) services, which cover only 10 percent of the population, while competition is weak and prices high. Only 22 percent of Greek households have Internet connections, against an EU average of 49 percent, Reding noted.