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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-28

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] OECD welcomes reform in Greece, urges more

  • [01] OECD welcomes reform in Greece, urges more

    The visiting secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday welcomed reform carried out in Greece, but stated that work still needs to be done.

    In a speech to finance ministry and central bank officials, Angel Gurria said one priority was a pensions overhaul, due to forecasts of high costs as a proportion of gross domestic product, especially in Greece, linked to an ageing population.

    Another was improvement of the education system as the transfer of youth to the labour market from education was slow in Greece on the basis of global standards. More flexibility was required in the obtainment of new skills, and trade groups should advise on training programmes so that youth would gain knowledge that was linked to the job market.

    In addition, Greek law on protection for workers was one of the most stringent among OECD members and may have contributed to a low rate of "recycling" of workers in jobs, and to persistent unemployment among young people and women. Discrimination against part-time work should halt, Gurria noted.

    Formulation of wages also needed to be more flexible, easing deviation from collective labour pacts, especially in high unemployment areas. Non-payroll labour costs should be lowered through containment of social insurance contributions for people on low wages.

    Despite progress made in lowering the fiscal deficit, more measures were needed including better controls on primary spending and tax evasion. Both employment and productivity needed to rise, accompanied by investment in human resources.

    Greece's per capita gross domestic product was 23% lower than the eurozone average and 46% than the USA average.

    The OECD forecast growth in Greece of about 3% in 2006 and 2007, well above the eurozone average; and inflation of about 3% in 2007, also above the eurozone average.

    During his visit, Gurria met senior officials including central bank governor Nicholas Garganas and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

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