19 October, 2006
A National Reform Program for the period 2005-2008 was restoring fiscal balance and supported economic growth dynamism in the country, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Presenting the program's implementation report for 2006, the Greek minister said that government priorities remained restoring fiscal balance, boosting productivity, investing in human resources, improving the business climate, opening up of domestic markets and strengthening employment and vocational training.
The implementation report, based on reports by various government ministries, regional authorities, employers' and workers' unions, focused on an improvement of Greek economic competitiveness, the positive results of introducing a new investment law, a 22 percent jump in Greek exports in the first six months of 2006 and actions taken to support small- and medium-sized enterprises, promoting a new digital strategy, etc.
Alogoskoufis said the program also sought to link a Third and a Fourth Community Support Framework programs with the Lisbon Strategy and emphasized on the need to promote a dialogue with social partners to implement a National Reform Program and offering better information to citizens over the program's aims.
The 2006 implementation report, submitted to the European Commission on Monday, noted the progress made in restoring fiscal balance and ensuring a long-term viability of public finances, boosting productivity, improving a business climate and raising employment in the country.
The program achieved fiscal balance targets set for 2006, while it stressed an increase in a special fuel tax in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. "The government is determined to continue with its fiscal restructuring efforts in the coming years with the aim to achieve a long-term goal of a balanced budget," the report said.
The report also noted progress in real estate taxation, combating tax-evasion, the operations of a secretariat on promoting joint projects between public and private sectors, and implementing a new law on restructuring public sector enterprises.
It also stressed actions taken to promoting the upgrading and expansion of industrial and business regions around the country and underlined that a privatization program was successfully implemented despite uncertainties and high volatility in international markets. The privatization program includes the sale of another stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and the listing of DEPA in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The report said that Greece lagged behind other EU member-states in timely integrating community directives into national legislation, although a significant improvement was recorded in September 2006. The report said the government's general secretariat in cooperation with the country’s permanent representation office in Brussels was working to improve the country's performance.
A new investment law, introduced in 2004, significantly contributed to promoting regional cohesion, while infrastructure projects -covering all the country- were under-way, the report said. Efforts focused on upgrading the country's main railway network.
Source: Athens News Agency