ECONOMY

Would war derail growth?

Greece yesterday brushed aside the consequences a war in Iraq would have on economic growth in 2003, saying national output would still be expected to exceed eurozone averages. It also said global uncertainties would not derail its privatization program because of the nature of future divestments and the characteristics of the companies themselves. Gross domestic product growth next year is projected to dip by a percentage point to 3-3.1 percent in the event of a war in Iraq, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said. Earlier this month, he said the government was aiming for GDP growth of 4.1 percent in 2003 without factoring in a war in Iraq. The revised forecast, however, is still significantly higher than the major eurozone economies. Both Germany and France are aiming to boost national output in 2003 by 2.5 percent, while Italy is looking to lift GDP by 2.3 percent. Spain has set a 3-percent target. Massive public investment spending, equivalent to 6.2 percent of GDP, is expected to be the engine of growth for Greece, Christodoulakis said. «The Greek economy is characterized by its dynamism, spurred by strong investment spending,» he said. He said the state divestment program would not be affected much by the volatility in the stock markets as the State plans to look for strategic investors rather than sell stock on the market.