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Eastern Europe: OECD Chief Advises Against Slowing Reform

Prague, 25 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Donald Johnston, the General Secretary of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), says governments in former Communist countries must stop slowing market reforms with economic policies of social protection.

Speaking at the European Banking and Financial Forum in Prague today, Johnston said that there must be a balance between free market and social policies in transition countries.

Johnston said increased economic growth from the "free play of the market" will create the funds needed to fuel social programs. He said governments must not reject market liberalizations that benefit society as a whole simply because one group is threatened by the reforms. Instead, he says the benefits of free trade and investment should be maximized and shared across society.

Johnston said no country that has advanced market liberalization has ever wanted to return to "monolithic" economic controls.