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Greek Government to Deregulate “Closed Professions”

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The government is to bring national legislation in line with European Union directives in what concerns the deregulation of the service industry and the opening up of the so-called closed professions to competitive conditions, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou announced yesterday after a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee for the economy chaired by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. Papathanassiou stressed that this is a very important reform, which when fully implemented could lead to lower consumer prices and improve the competitiveness of the Greek economy, contributing to economic growth and higher employment. He also said that more changes to closed professions, which are not included in this draft bill will follow after further studies and dialogue.”

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Greece: Tax Pacage to Curb Budget Deficit

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou announced on June 25 a €1,9 billion package of new tax measures, in an effort to boost state revenues and reduce public deficit. The package includes higher taxes on fuel, mobile phones, lottery earnings, cars with more than 2-litre engines and recreational boats over 10 metres in length. Another €1 billion in revenues is expected from legalizing unauthorised home construction. Papathanasiou stressed that the government remains committed to the goals of reducing the fiscal deficit to 3.7 pct of GDP this year, creating initial conditions for limiting public debt and preserving the credibility of the Greek economy. The Greek minister added that a battle to combat tax evasion and cutting public spending would continue.  Kathimerini daily: Gov’t seeks 2 bln euros in new taxes

Greek Finance Minister at 10th Venture Capital Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Economic growth will come from within business activation and through collaboration between public and private sector, economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said on Tuesday, addressing the 10th Venture Capital Forum organised in Athens by the Invest in Greece Agency in cooperation with the New Economy Fund (TANEO) and the PRAXIS network.  Papathanassiou also said that the government will continue to fulfil its duty with responsibility, adding that it was seeking consensus, unanimity and understanding at the national level.  In the framework of the country’s safe exit from the crisis, he said, businesses were called on to assume their significant role with new initiatives, a creative disposition, and investments in sectors on which growth in the new era will be founded. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Statement by Minister at 10th Venture Capital Forum (in Greek, 16.6.2009) 

Greek Finance Minister: Economic Prospects

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The next two years will be a period of intense reform, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said on Monday (25.5), addressing an Economist conference in Athens. He also stressed that the growth model that helped Greece enjoy strong rates so far, must be adjusted to modern demands and expressed the government’s determination to improve the country’s competitiveness by taking measures to support innovation, reduce bureaucracy, promote alternative energy sources, and attract big foreign investments. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published yesterday (25.5) its annual report on the Greek economy, according to which the economy is expected to shrink by up to 2% this year with recovery beginning late in 2010. The IMF also recommended sweeping changes to tax regulations, continuing wage moderation and social security reforms.  Commenting on the IMF report, Papathanassiou said that “the Government is studying and carefully evaluating all the reports by international organisations pertaining to our country, even when it happens to disagree with certain estimates and predictions. In any case, it is clear that the next two years will determine the outcome of many significant issues for Greece’s present and future.”  Ministry of Economy and Finance: Speech by minister Papathanassiou at the Economist conference (in Greek); Kathimerini daily: IMF sees better days in late 2010

Talking Business in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   On May 11, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises held its annual general assembly. Addressing the event, chairman Dimitris Daskalopoulos highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in today’s times of economic uncertainty. Knowledge- and investment-based entrepreneurship holds the key to creative adaptation and exit from the dire economic situation which is holding the economy back, he said. In his speech, Minister of Economy and Finance Yannis Papathanassiou (photo) expressed the hope that economic climate would be reverted even by 2009. He further noted that projections which point to negative growth dismiss a recent package of measures, aiming at boosting the construction sector, the car market and employment. Addressing the 2nd annual Greek Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Market Forum yesterday, Papathanassiou linked the government’s structural reform programme to the PPPs, pledging to provide a strong impetus for such partnerships, which has so far proven effective and “the modern way of financing infrastructure projects.”

Greek Financial Ministe: Economy Resistant to Crisis

The Greek economy is showing stronger resistance to pressure from the ongoing global economic crisis, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stressed on Monday. Commenting on the European Commission’s (EC) spring economic forecasts, the minister said the Commission cut forecasts over economic growth in the Eurozone and the EU, noting that Greece – although projected to present a negative growth rate this year – was showing stronger resistance compared with other eurozone countries. 
Papathanassiou stressed that the EC’s forecast for Greece does not take into account recent government steps aimed at boosting the economy. The EC’s forecast predicts that the Greek economy will present a negative growth rate of 0.9% in 2009 – compared with other countries where the economy was expected to shrink by 4.0% – before recovering to a growth rate of 0.1% in 2010.

The finance ministry is more optimistic and is sticking to its anticipated expansion rate of 1.1% for this year, emphasising that “the Commission’s latest forecasts have not taken into account recent measures taken by the government to support economic growth, such as measures to boost construction activity, the car market and employment,” said the minister. 
In any case, Papathanassiou said, the government would re-evaluate economic progress in June and if needed, would make any necessary adjustments to achieve its budget targets. 
European Commission: Economic Forecast Spring 2009 – Greece ; Athens News Agency: Negative growth in 2009; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Statements by Finance Minister Yiannis Papathansiou on EC’s forecast (May 4, in Greek)

The Prospects of the Greek Economy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)     Addressing institutional investors in London (February 10-11), Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou presented the prospects of the Greek economy. Papathanassiou stressed that the government’s economic policy remains absolutely focused on controlling and further reducing the fiscal deficit and repeated that the state projection of the 1,1% growth rate is realistic and therefore the deficit can be reduced to below 3% by 2011. From 7.5% of the GDP since 2004, the fiscal deficit has this year dropped to 3.7%. Concerning other fiscal indices, Papathanassiou said that expenditure will be contained and the aim is to save €500 million for 2009. Overall, 35% of the amount needed to consolidate and pay for the country’s needs for 2009 has by now been easily secured. Referring to the increased spreads detected in state bond market, Papathanassiou pointed out that Greece managed to overcome the adverse climate. He further commented that the burden of  spreads derived to some extent from an ambience created by unjustified rumours concerning the viability of the euro currency, the Greek economy’s course, or Greece’s and other countries’ future in the eurozone. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Speech of the Minister of Economy And Finance on the prospects of Greek economy & Update of the Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2008-2011 (January 2009) ; Greek News Agenda: Ecofin Discusses European Economies; Bloomberg: Greek Minister Says Bond Spreads Not Justified as Debt Shrinks