Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, speaking in Thessaloniki on Monday night, underlined the government's determination to curb the public deficit and debt, reiterating that the state of the Greek economy is indeed very difficult but it is under control and the climate of disaster talk is ultimately more harmful than the crisis itself.

Papathanasiou, who was addressing the General Assembly of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE), expressed his conviction that Greece will win the wager on reducing the deficit below 3 percent by the year 2010, although the difficulties for the Greek economy are lying ahead.

The minister reiterated that those who are calling for pressure to be exerted on the European Union to permit a flexible impementation of the Stability Pact "either do not realise the magnitude of the real threat for the national economy, or they realise it and are misleading deliberately."

Papathanasiou insisted on the option of not increasing tax rates for businesses, pointing out that every increase in the tax burden for firms at this period means, among other things, bankruptcies and unemployment.

He further stressed that if the crisis will require additional adjustments, the government is prepared to carry them out. He also reminded that the results of the measures taken will be evaluated in June and "if necessary, the necessary interventions will take place."

Papathanasiou went on to say that the government is primarily cracking down on state expenditures, reducing hirings in the public sector (12,000 this year compared to 21,000 departures), decreasing the number of public organisations and adopting the leasing method in state procurements.

Moreover, the effort to deal with tax evasion is being intensified. He said that out of ascertained debts amounting to 20 billion euros, half the figure can be received and the target is for at least 1.8 billion to be received this year.

Lastly, the minister said that 40 percent of the Public Investments Programme, or projects worth 7.5 billion concern northern Greece.

source: (published  07/04/2009)