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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-08-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] President Papoulias congratulates new Saudi king Abdullah
  • [02] Inner Cabinet approves property tax changes amid opposition criticism
  • [03] Truck owners call off indefinite strike

  • [01] President Papoulias congratulates new Saudi king Abdullah

    Congratulations to Saudi Arabia's new king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud were sent Wednesday by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the assumption of the former's duties.

    Abdullah took over the reigns of the world's biggest oil exporting country and cradle of Islam following the death Monday of his half-brother, King Fahd, who ruled the strategic Gulf state for 23 years.

    "On the occasion of the assumption of your lofty duties, as head of state of the friendly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I wish to express to you, personally, and to the people of your country, on behalf of the Greek people and myself, personally, our most sincere congratulations and warmest wishes for health, happiness, prosperity and every success," Papoulias wrote in his cable of congratulations.

    "I am certain that, under your guidance, your country will progress, ensuring its people a future of prosperity and stability, in its own interests and also in the interests of the wider region," the message said.

    Papoulias further reaffirmed the "friendly sentiments of the Greek people", adding that "I look forward to our cooperation for the advancement and improvement of our traditionally excellent bilateral relations".

    [02] Inner Cabinet approves property tax changes amid opposition criticism

    A Greek Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday discussed an Economy and Finance ministry plan to introduce a 19 percent VAT on new buildings from January 1, 2006 and other changes to the property tax regime.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the measure would help significantly in combatting tax evasion in the country, while he added the first homes would be excluded from the introduction of VAT. The measures also include higher tax-exempt levels for heritages and a gradual abolition of a tax on real estate transfers.

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said the measures were in the right direction and underlined his satisfaction over the fact that ND's pre-election programme was being implemented.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) later sharply criticised the government plan to change property taxes.

    "The offensive against working people's income and their housing has intensified, leading to a sharp rise in tax and in rents," the party said in a statement.

    "Raising the tax-exempt bracket (for incomes) in no way offsets the dramatic burden that will emerge," the statement said.

    The KKE called on the public to resist the proposed changes.

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party also slammed the new property tax and VAT measures announced by the government on Tuesday, warning they would drive up already inflated property prices.

    Top party member Panagiotis Lafazanis, in charge of economic issues for Synaspismos, accused the government of "continuing the summer and tax-levying road-roller" and predicted that the new measures will make it even harder for lower incomes to buy their first home.

    [03] Truck owners call off indefinite strike

    The owners of private lorries transporting goods, refrigerated trucks carrying out domestic and international transports, and liquid fuel tanker trucks on Wednesday called off an indefinite strike they had commenced on Monday for financial and infrastructural demands.

    The strike was suspended after a meeting of the Central Coordinating Committee of the Cooperation Federations of public use trucks Tuesday evening, following talks the previous day between trade union representatives with employment minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, during which the minister pledged that the government would set up a committee to look into sector problems.

    The committee is due to reach conclusions by September 30 following consultations with relevant unions.

    Panayiotopoulos also underlined the importance of safety in trucks to avoid recent collisions that led to the death of schoolchildren.

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