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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-07

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't details initiatives to fight corruption
  • [02] US Envoy addresses Greek economy conference

  • [01] Gov't details initiatives to fight corruption

    The government on Monday detailed a series of actions it has taken since assuming power to fight corruption and opaque bureaucracy in the east Mediterranean country, with the relevant minister listing off the initiatives in a letter to the head of the well-known Transparency International (TI) NGO.

    In a letter to TI chairman of the board of directors Peter Eigen, Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred, among others, to increased protection from litigation bestowed on public administration corps inspectors. The hiring of more specialised inspectors as well as stricter laws, i.e. the upgrading of the breach of faith charge from a misdemeanour to a felony.

    Additionally, inspectors will now be able to request, via the judiciary, access to information regarding bank deposits, income tax statements and financial dealings of high-ranking civil servants. More detailed statements of means and income have also been instituted for certain categories of public officials.

    Greece was listed as 49th -- along with Suriname -- out of a total of 146 countries internationally in the group's recently issued 2004 Corruption Perceptions Index, behind the Indian archipelago nation of Seychelles and just ahead of the Czech Republic.

    [02] US Envoy addresses Greek economy conference

    Greece needs to step up tax reforms, liberalisation of the energy market and public-private partnerships if it is to keep up with the political and economic transformation of its neighbouring countries, US Ambassador to Greece Charles Ries said during his address at the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce annual Greek economy conference on Monday.

    Ries also noted that Greece needs to improve transparency - the country ranked 22nd among the EU-25 according to Transparency International - in order to attract more foreign investment.

    The ambassador referred to the increasing dynamism of Greece's neighbours to the north, as well as to the countries of the Middle East.

    He also referred to Turkey, noting that the country began its EU accession course with "significant help" from Greece.

    According to Ries, Turkey's EU accession which will require economic and political reform, will also benefit Greece, noting that over the past four years Greek-Turkish trade has increased four-fold, to stand at $1.75 billion currently.

    Regarding Greece's neighbours to the north, Ries cited EU candidates Romania and Bulgaria as potential competitors.

    He underscored the fact that Romania lowered its tax rate from 25% to 16% in 2004, while Greece lowered its corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.

    Ries also mentioned Greek companies' partnerships with US firms, mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East, and cited the joint ventures of First Data with Delta Singular and Procter & Gamble with Rolco-Vianil as examples.

    In reference to the Middle East, the US ambassador noted that Greek companies benefit from long-standing good relations with countries in the region. As a result, Greek-Arabic trade has doubled from 2 billion in 1997 to 4 billion in 2004, he said.


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