January 31, 2011 / 3:02 AM / 8 years ago

Incoming CBI head optimistic on economy

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Director General designate John Cridland (L) listens to a reporter's question after his new post was announced by current CBI Director General Richard Lambert at the CBI offices in London November 15, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters) - The new head of Britain’s biggest business organisation said on Monday he was optimistic about the economy but called on the government to come up with a growth strategy as strong as its austerity drive.

John Cridland, who took over as director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on Monday, told the Financial Times he was a “relative optimist” about the economy despite a 0.5 percent shock contraction in the last three months of 2010.

“The companies I talk to can see that growth is slowly and steadily building,” he said.

Unlike his predecessor Richard Lambert, who used his farewell speech last week to criticise the Conservative-led government for not doing enough to boost growth when spending cuts are likely to squeeze domestic demand, Cridland praised the coalition for holding onto its course.

“The coalition has done well for business so far. Now is the time to step up the pace even more,” Cridland said.

“I believe we have 24 months to deliver a strategy which achieves above-trend growth to maintain the living standards of the British citizen.”

He said reducing Britain’s record peacetime budget deficit of 10 percent of GDP remained a priority, and urged that an “equally strong” growth strategy is set out in March, when the government presents its 2011 budget to parliament.

Reporting by Karolina Tagaris

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