Minster for Development Dimitris Sioufas today tabled a bill in parliament to establish a National Competitiveness & Development Council and regulate other Ministry of Development issues.
The purpose of the bill is to put the National Competitiveness and Development Council (ESAA), which has until now operated by ministerial decisions, on an institutional footing, and to upgrade its role, responsibilities and manner of operation. To achieve this end, the ESAA is being placed in a specific legal framework, instead of the administrative practice on which basis it has operated since it was founded, and its role and responsibilities are being enlarged.
In addition, the bill makes the ESAA the supreme consultative body of the Ministry of Development for every issue concerning the improvement of competitiveness, so that it becomes the official body for submitting proposals regarding a national policy on competitiveness.
The instituting and upgrading of the ESAA are, as Mr Sioufas has repeatedly stressed, essential, and arise from the existing international economic environment, which can be characterised as follows:
- The emergence of a single global market in products, and consumer and production models.
- Information and knowledge as urgent factors affecting the strength of societies and businesses.
- Swift development and application of new technologies, with a focus on IT and telecommunications.
- Deregulation of economic activity by removing national or supranational barriers.
- Creation of a strong competitive framework in which the most able rise to the top.
In this environment, the strategic objective of the Greek economy must be major, ongoing, qualitative and quantitative improvement of its competitiveness, which according to all the international indicators, is stagnating. For example:
- The ratio of exports to imports is constantly falling (1999: 0.39 - 2003: 0.31). All the basic economic indicators which determine the country’s position in the international economic environment have been worsening for a number of years.
- The international position of the Greek economy in world trade remains unchanged over a long period, while the share of its closest competitors has increased.
- Technological improvement as a factor in competitiveness has not acquired strong and self-sustaining momentum in the Greek economy
- Since 1998, Greek industry’s share of "high tech" exports has remained at low levels (below 8%).
To turn this situation around and improve our competitive position in a global context, it is essential to map out a consistent and effective policy on competitiveness, based on reliable data, that will receive the greatest possible social consensus. In addition, it is essential to produce innovative ideas and turn them into workable policy measures. Finally, our national policy must be coordinated with that of the European Union, and support must be given to Greece’s participation in European Councils of Ministers responsible for competitiveness and the corresponding group of Commissioners. The ESAA is expected to meet these needs.
The ESAA will be a consultative body of the Ministry of Development, involved in the creation of national policy, its incorporation into the framework of the European Union’s policy on competitiveness, and the achievement of the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy. This role will principally be exercised through expert opinions. The opinions of the Council are arrived at through a complete procedure, with the participation of both of the official support bodies of the ESAA: the Committee of Experts and the Directorate for the Promotion of Competitiveness.
The procedure involves:
- The systematic collection of data on competitiveness from domestic and international sources.
- The processing of data by the Committee of Experts, which is made up of distinguished scientists and experts in competitiveness. The Committee of Experts is a think tank for ideas, plans and policies, and is at the same time a mechanism for making recommendations to the ESAA.
- The transformation of recommendations into expert opinions by the ESAA. In addition to the executive, industry and collective bodies of citizens concerned with competitiveness are represented on the Council. Moreover, regional bodies are also involved in its work, to ensure a regional dimension and to take into consideration the regional impact of opinions. With this wide representation, ESAA opinions will be the product of exhaustive dialogue and will receive the greatest possible social consensus.
- Advancing of opinions through the development minister to the prime minister, and their processing, so that measures can be taken to improve competitiveness.
- Monitoring of the application of measures, feedback to the Council with information about their effectiveness and the progress of domestic competitiveness in general.