Alogoskoufis confident stability program will gain EU approval

Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday he expects the European Commission to give a positive report next Wednesday on the government’s efforts to restore fiscal stability in 2005 and the prospects for this year. Speaking to reporters after the European Union Economy and Finance ministers’ (Ecofin) meeting in Brussels, he expressed confidence that the results of the ongoing reforms will soon be visible. «The year 2005 was one of important reforms in the economy, the state and markets. Our goal this year is to continue them and deepen their dynamics, in order to obtain better results on growth – which was satisfactory last year – and I believe it will remain so in 2006 as regards employment and social cohesion,» Alogoskoufis said. Greece’s economy grew at a pace of 3.7 percent in the last quarter of 2005, down from 3.8 percent in the third quarter. The Commission’s report will be discussed at the next Ecofin meeting in March. Alogoskoufis said the reforms do not include the serious problem of the pension system, which, according to a Commission report on Monday, looks as if it will create strong pressure on member states’ public finances, especially those of Greece. He said the government will only engage in consultations on the problem during its current term but the task reforming the pension system will fall on the shoulders of future governments. Alogoskoufis said the Commission’s indirect push for the privatization of the system with individual retirement accounts is something that simply cannot be done, not just politically but also practically, for it «implies finding the money for an entire generation of insured.»

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