‘No copying foreign models’

No country is able to import the experience of other countries, as is, into its economic policy and apply a set growth model, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. «The reform policy that has been followed in this country has been a synthesis of other policies at EU level, and in no case are we attempting to copy integrated economic models,» he told a conference titled «What Model Do We Want for Europe? What Can We Learn from Each Other’s Experience?» Alogoskoufis said the restoration of public finances was the biggest challenge facing the Greek economy, stressing that despite very positive results, with the reduction of the budget deficit to 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the effort had to continue. «We cannot speak of a return to handouts. We have to continue the reform process in other directions,» he said, flanked by his two opposition PASOK predecessors, Nikos Christodoulakis and Yiannos Papantoniou. Alogoskoufis said the top challenges facing Greek economic policy are securing the long-term viability of the social insurance system, under conditions of the greatest social consensus, the best possible utilization of European Union investment subsidies in the 2007-2013 period, and the tapping of the country’s geopolitical position, which, for the first time, has begun to yield positive results economically. Christodoulakis emphasized the need for a debate to be started on a series of key issues, such as a systematic policy toward a reduction in military spending through a bilateral agreement with Turkey, and the taxation of new wealth. He also stressed the importance of how offshore activities and capital gains are taxed, as well as that of higher tax rates on companies’ «super-profits.» Papantoniou said it was important that the country maintained its economic growth rate at about 4 percent for the 11th consecutive year. He also stressed the need for promoting serious structural reforms for such policies to continue, irrespective of the state of the global economy. Three foreign economy ministers, that of Portugal, Fernando Teixeira; Sweden, Anders Borg; and Malta, Tonio Fenech; as well as general secretary of Ireland’s Economy Ministry, Donald McNally, presented the economic models applied in their own respective countries.

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