Alogoskoufis seeks consultation

Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis is attempting to draw on the experience of four of his predecessors for valuable insight that may improve his policy mix. Yesterday he met Timos Christodoulou, president of Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE), who held Alogoskoufis’s post in the early 1990s. He has also sent invitations to Stephanos Manos, also a former New Democracy party predecessor in the same period but now an opposition PASOK-allied deputy, and PASOK’s Yiannos Papantoniou, who led Greece’s economy into the eurozone, and Nikos Christodoulakis, a former academic colleague. Apart from Christodoulou, the other three have sharply criticized the present economic policy. Papantoniou has already accepted the invitation. Christodoulou said he presented a set of ideas that would aim to make the economy more effective and flexible. Even though all macroeconomic indicators are developing satisfactorily, there is a sense that something is missing which will ensure the improvement becomes stable, he said. Christodoulou set the simplification of investment procedures as the top priority. As an example of how things can go wrong, he cited HELPE’s badly planned power station in Thessaloniki. This station has not operated profitably as the Public Power Corporation offers more competitive rates. Separately, a team of the European Union’s statistics service (Eurostat) which arrived in Athens last week is trying to determine the exact size of the social insurance funds’ surpluses, which it considers excessive as presented by the Greek government. The so-called «white hole» affects Eurostat’s calculation of the country’s public deficit.