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» 2008: A Crucial Year

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) According to Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis the government needs to push ahead with reforms this year: “Whatever does not take place now will not happen by the end of the government’s four-year term,” the minister said to Kathimerini daily. In regard to forthcoming negotiations between employers and trade unions on pay hikes over the next two years Alogoskoufis expressed his preference the agreement to cover three years so that “there is a stable midterm framework.”

Immediate priorities for the government include Reform of Greece’s social security system, balancing the Budget by 2010, completing tax reforms, boosting small and middle-sized enterprises. Other priorities listed by the government are the protection of the environment, regulating land use, promoting renewable energy sources, and restoring the natural environment in regions ravaged by wild fires last summer.

» Dynamic Economy, Fair Society

Immediate priorities for the government  aims at continuing the fiscal consolidation effort and achieving a balanced budget by 2010, while enhancing social cohesion and reinforcing the welfare state. The 2008 State Budget figures are based on revised GDP data, after Eurostat approved a 9.6% upward revision of the Greek GDP at the end of October 2007. According to the State Budget, in 2008 GDP will grow by 4%, the general government deficit is expected to fall to 1.6% of GDP against an estimated 2.7% of GDP this year, the general government debt is going to be reduced further to 91% of GDP from 93.4% in 2007, employment growth is expected to reach 1.9%, with the unemployment rate further declining to 7.4% from 8.3% this year. The budget constitutes another step towards achieving the goals the ruling New Democracy party had set in September’s general election by keeping its pledges.

Ministry of Economy and Finance: Economic Data, Reports & Fact Sheets

» Human Development

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Report 2007/8 (“Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world”), published on November 27, Greece ranks 24th in the world. Greece once again ranks highest among the South East European Nations with a score of 0.926. According to the report, Greece has the highest combined gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and university education (99%) and, with a GDP per capita of $23,381, Greece has the highest GDP among countries in the region.

The report’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranks 177 countries according to their levels of human development, placing them into three clusters: high, medium and low. The HDI is a composite index, gauging countries’ average achievements in three basic dimensions of human development: life expectancy at birth, adult literacy and school enrolment, and GDP per capita. The group of high HD nations is led by Iceland, with an index score of 0.968. EU member states Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and Portugal rank 20th, 22nd, 27th, and 29th respectively.

At the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index (2005)  Greece ranks 22nd among 111 countries.

UNDP Human Development Report: Greece – Data; Greece – Fact sheet; Secretariat General of Information: Greece in the World