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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-01

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Combatting fuel smuggling, tax evasion, top economic policy issues, Greek FinMin says
  • [02] Ruling ND lead over main opposition PASOK widens to 2.4 pct, Metron Analysis poll shows
  • [03] Defendants acquitted in supplementary ELA trial
  • [04] State-run banks re-open on Friday after nearly month-long strike

  • [01] Combatting fuel smuggling, tax evasion, top economic policy issues, Greek FinMin says

    The Greek government is set to announce a package of measures by the end of the month that will seek to combat fuel smuggling, an activity facilitated by a large tax difference between diesel and heating oil in the country, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday.

    The Greek minister, in a radio interview, said the measures would be drafted in cooperation with Development ministry and stressed combatting fuel smuggling and tax evasion would be the centre-point of economic policy in the next few months. Alogoskoufis, however, noted that the government-sponsore measures would not create problems to consumers or farmers and reassured of no extra burdens to citizens.

    The introduction of a Value Added Tax on real estate from January 1, 2006, would contribute in combating tax evasion in the building sector, he said. Alogoskoufis said the ministry would launch a campaign to inform citizens over tax evasion and noted that an International Monetary Fund delegation, currently in Athens, would recommend changes to improve tax inspections and tax collection.

    "We will do whatever possible to deal with fiscal problems, covering both spending and tax evasion. Fiscal problems are big and we may have to take some additional extensive measures," Alogoskoufis said. The Greek minister reiterated the need to start a dialogue with political and parties and social partners over the country's social security system and stressed that the government would not proceed with pension system reforms during its four-year term.

    "This term must be used for dialogue, to reach som consensus, so that the pension system problem will not have to be an issue of political debate before next elections," the minister said.

    [02] Ruling ND lead over main opposition PASOK widens to 2.4 pct, Metron Analysis poll shows

    The ruling New Democracy party's (ND) lead over main opposition PASOK party has widened to 2.4 percentage points, according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis on behalf of the municipal radio station "Athens 98.4".

    According to the results, 36.1 percent of respondents, with respect to intention of vote (if elections were held tomorrow), said they would vote in favour of ND, against 33.7 percent who said the would vote for PASOK -- giving the ruling party a 2.4 percent lead -- while 7.6 percent said they would vote for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 4.3 percent for the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), 4.0 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally party (LAOS), and 1.1 percent for other parties, while 5.1 percent would cast blank votes and another 8 percent said they were "undecided".

    Also, 41.9 percent of the respondents considered current prime minister Costas Karamanlis as "the most suitable for prime minister", followed by PASOK leader George Papandreou with 27.9 percent.

    Regarding who they believed would win the general elections if they were held now -- regardless of their own voting preference -- 51.8 percent said that ND would emerge the victor, against 25.8 percent who felt that PASOK would win.

    This latest opinion poll was concluded on Monday, and covered a period in which the issue of the changes in the banks and the DEKO public utilities were the dominant topics.

    According to the poll results, ND remained steady in its percentages vis-a-vis a similar poll conducted in April, while PASOK lost ground, mainly due to the negative picture that emerged during the motion of censure in parliament and the main opposition party's awkwardness over the OTE early retirement deal.

    Due to that climate, Karamanlis' popularity increased while there were repercussions on Papandreou's image, which are evident in the responses to the question on the most suited for prime minister, in which Karamanlis' lead over the PASOK leader widened vis-a-vis the April opinion poll, while the popularity of the KKE, SYN and LAOS was also boosted.

    [03] Defendants acquitted in supplementary ELA trial

    A Criminal Appeals tribunal on Friday acquitted the six defendants being tried for involvement in several bomb explosions at public services and organisations claimed by the now-defunct Popular Revolutionary Struggle (ELA) terrorist group which were separated from the initial trial on the main body of ELA terror activities, for which the convicted individuals are already serving long sentences.

    Following a five-month trial that began in February, the tribunal on Friday unanimously acquitted Yannis Serifis and Michalis Kassimis, and also acquitted Christos Tsigaridas, Costas Agapiou, Aggeletos Kanas and Irene Athanasaki by majority vote. The defendents, with the exception of Serifis, were being tried on participation in 10 explosions at public services and organisations claimed by ELA, while Serifis was facing charges of complicity in a bomb attack on a MAT riot police bus in the Perissos district, in which police officer Apostolos Velios was killed.

    In its verdict on Tsigaridas, who has assumed the political responsibility for the group for time during which he was a member, the court deemed that there was insufficient evidence that the accused had been involved in any way in the supplementary charges on which he was being tried.

    Agapiou, Kanas and Athanasaki are currently incarcerated at Korydallos prison, after being convicted in October 2004 to 25-year sentences (the longest term allowed under the law, and the product of the merger of a total 1,174 years imprisonment each for convictions on 41 explosions, two attempted explosions, one homicide [Velios], 48 counts of attempted homicide, and procurement and posession of explosive materials). Tsigaridas was also convicted to the same term for the same crimes, but was released from prison on bond in mid-January -- under restrictions that include prohibition of his leaving the country and mandatory appearance at a local police station twice a month -- for health reasons.

    [04] State-run banks re-open on Friday after nearly month-long strike

    State-run banks re-open on Friday after nearly month-long strike

    Long queues formed outside Greece's state-run banks on Friday morning, which reopened after the end of strike action that lasted for the better part of a month, culminating in two-week rolling strike that was suspended by the bank workers' union OTOE on Thursday.

    OTOE decided to suspend the strike just before a controversial bill on bank-sector pension reforms was voted on in Parliament that evening. Earlier, the union had organised a "human-chain" picket outside Parliament during the debate on the controversial amendment and a protest march to the economy ministry.

    However, OTOE said that bank employees will be ready to proceed with further strikes should any bank try to implement the new pension arrangement.

    The union also said that legal action will be taken to render the bill - if it is passed - unconstitutional.

    Finally, bank employees will participate in a two-hour work stoppage on Wednesday in a sign of solidarity towards retail shop employees who will be striking in order to protest the government's recent decision to extend shop hours.

    The strike mainly affected state-run banks like Emporiki, National Bank of Greece and others but was largely ignored by private-sector banks.


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