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Highly commended: Yannos Papantoniou, Finance minister, Greece

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In 1996 Yannos Papantoniou took on the dual roles of Greece's minister for national economy and finance. His major achievement in that office has been to make his country a viable candidate for membership of the EU's single-currency system, a status it expects to achieve in 2001.

The 49-year-old economist, a Cambridge University PhD with other degrees from universities in Greece, France and the US, submitted his six-year economic convergence programme to the EU in 1994.

"What I consider the most important achievement of the Greek economy so far is our success in meeting the ambitious targets of the programme very consistently," says Papantoniou. "Inflation has fallen from 14% in 1993 to 5% now, and perhaps more importantly the fiscal deficit has been cut from 13.8% of GDP to 2.4% in the same period. The EU has acknowledged this as the most important fiscal consolidation achieved in recent years."

Papantoniou also points to his success in combining stabilization with substantial growth. The economy has recovered from minus 1% GDP in 1993 to a positive 3.5%

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