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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-03

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] January ECOFIN meeting to decide on Greek debt securitization plan
  • [02] Greek, French officials discuss stepped up defence sector cooperation
  • [03] GSEE denounces national collective labour agreement

  • [01] January ECOFIN meeting to decide on Greek debt securitization plan

    An ECOFIN council meeting in January will decide on a Greek government plan for a debt securitization, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said this year's debt securitization programme would total 1.5 billion euros, from 1.8 billion euros initially planned. The government would also cut its debt securitization programme for 2006 to 1.0 billion euros from a 2.0 billion initial forecast.

    Main opposition political parties are raising criticism over the government‚s draft budget plan for 2006, ahead of a debate in parliament this month.

    Alogoskoufis said the revenue gap from a reduced debt securitization programme this year and in 2006 would be covered by spending cuts and higher budget revenues. He noted that privatisation revenues would total 1.6 billion euros next year and reiterated that the government would not introduce any new tax measures.

    Alogoskoufis said that the government submitted with the European Union its fiscal progress report, envisaging measures to cut the country's fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP by the end of next year.

    The report envisages that a 6.6 pct fiscal deficit in 2004 will be reduced to 3.6 pct this year and to 2.6 pct of GDP in 2006. The Greek minister noted the four percentage points cut in the country's fiscal deficit would be mainly the result of structural measures -of permanent nature- totalling 3.5 percentage points.

    Alogoskoufis said it would be the first time that Greece reduced its fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP and reiterated the government's goal to cut public spending and to combat tax evasion.

    Opposition parties raise criticism

    Main opposition political parties are raising criticism over the government‚s draft budget plan for 2006, ahead of a debate in parliament this month.

    PASOK main opposition party deputy Vasso Papandreou on Thursday accused the government of failing to present an ?honest and credible budget?. ?We noted that a draft budget plan for 2006 was not well-based. Today, Economy and Finance Minister withdrew its plan, but the worse for workers, pensioners and the country is that he plans to submit a new budget plan,? Papandreou said, adding that the government intended to introduce new measures that would hit workers and pensioners and lead the economy into recession. She predicted of a very harsh winter for Greek workers.

    Coalition of the Left party deputy Panagiotis Lafazanis said a ?fiscal progress presented by Mr Alogoskoufis was fake?. The government with its new budget is preparing for new harder attack against low incomes combined with a new tax assault, Lafazanis noted.

    An Economy and Finance ministry announcement, issued in response to criticism, said PASOK was continuing a strategy of misinformation in an effort to create a climate in insecurity and confusion to citizens. The ministry defended its policies and reiterated it was moving steadily towards restructuring the Greek economy.

    [02] Greek, French officials discuss stepped up defence sector cooperation

    Bilateral cooperation in the defence sector dominated discussions here on Thursday between Deputy Defence Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos and the visiting chief executive of the French arms arms-procurement agency DGA -- D?l?gation G?n?rale pour l'Armement -- Francois Lureau.

    On his part, Lureau praised Athens' initiative for the creation and development of a European Defence Agency, something he said also reflects Paris' vision for a robust and autonomous European defence industry.

    Greek and French officials have reportedly begun contacts aimed at signing a memorandum of understanding covering bilateral issues and research programmes. Athens is also set to sign a cooperation agreement for its participation in the development of a European-made unmanned combat aerial vehicle.

    According to sources, moreover, the French side will positively respond to a request by Athens for the purchase of additional "Mirage" 2000-5 fighter planes.

    [03] GSEE denounces national collective labour agreement

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), on Thursday denounced the National General Collective Labour Agreement, officially presenting its claims for the 2006 agreement.

    GSEE demands increases in salaraies and daily wages of working people which will secure within the next five-year period the convergence with the average labour income of the European Union's "15".

    It is assessed that this objective will lead the trade unions into an orbit of opposition both with the employers and the government.

    "It is no coincidence that this year we are presenting our demands early," GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos underlined on Thursday, adding that "the trade uions are absolutely ready to claim an agreement whichg will answer positively to the needs of the working people."

    Polyzogopoulos noted that the increases which will be claimed include four cases: the coverage of the loss from inflation (it is calculated by the trade unions that it runs between 3-3.5%), coverage of the share of the working eople from the increase in productivity (2-2.5%), making up for the income lost from the increase of Value Added Tax (1%) and the supportive increase so as to secure the convergence (percentage of 7% which if it is distributed over a five-year period will lead to the demand for an increase of the average salary by 1.2% annually).


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