ECONOMY

Recession may increase joblessness

The Greek government is afraid that a global recession, prompted in part by the aftershocks of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, would once again force unemployment levels upward. Greece’s jobless rate peaked at 12 percent of the work force in 1999 before declining to 10.9 percent in 2000. However, this rate is still second highest among the 15 European Union countries. Speaking at a European congress on labor law yesterday, Labor and Social Security Minister Tassos Yiannitsis admitted that employment could be affected. This is a very serious issue… we are on alert to see if there will be any repercussions (from international developments), he said. European Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said that there will be aftershocks in Europe and Greece will not avoid them. She added, however, that these aftershocks will be less intense in Greece, given the high rate of growth. Greece has one of the highest growth rates in the EU, thanks in part to a massive investment program that is partly funded by the EU. The global slowdown, however, is certain to dampen economic growth, reducing it to about 4 percent from the initially estimated 4.6 percent. Critics argue that Rometelecom is facing a cash-flow crisis as a result of the exportation of OTE’s procurement practices involving the so-called programmatic agreements with preferred Greek manufacturers and direct assignments rather than through tendering. They cite, for instance, direct assignments worth 100 billion drachmas for Cosmorom, Romtelecom’s mobile phone subsidiary.