ECONOMY

Shift to revenue-raising projects

Recently appointed Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said yesterday the government will concentrate on revenue-raising co-funded state projects and boosting the country’s export profile. After taking over at the ministry in a recent Cabinet reshuffle, the minister said that emphasis will shift toward public-private partnerships (PPPs), such as a waste management plant, which would provide the economy with an investment while also earning cash for the government from the start of the project. This policy decision partially overturns the strategy carved out by his predecessor, Louka Katseli, to build 22 PPPs worth more than 2 billion euros, with most of those being schools and police facilities – investments aimed at long-term returns based on the use of these assets by state authorities. The minister also said that he plans to boost the market’s export revenues over the next four years to 16 percent of gross domestic product. «Even if we get through the fiscal crisis, we will have failed if we don’t change the growth model,» he told reporters. As a means of supporting the export industry, the government plans to finance support initiatives via the European Union’s National Strategic Reference Framework and the new development law. Next week, Chrysochoidis plans to meet up with exporters from Crete and Thessaloniki as well as trade groups in the sector in order to discuss the financing tools available and ways to promote Greek goods and services abroad. He forecast that 2011 will be the toughest year for the economy, with businesses continuing to shut down and rising unemployment. On the price front, the minister said the government plans to keep up the fight against products that are priced excessively high. Some 100 products included on the average household consumer’s shopping list of basic purchases, accounting for 80 percent of spending, cost about 30 percent more in Greece than in other European Union countries, said the minister, «in a country with low labor costs and cheap rent.»