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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-21

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Budget for 2006 seen spurring growth and jobs
  • [02] PASOK leader insists on party's renewal
  • [03] Gov't promotes ‚¨145-mln programme for textile

  • [01] Budget for 2006 seen spurring growth and jobs

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday tabled in Parliament the 2006 budget, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and cabinet members.

    Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki said the debate will begin on December 18 and last until midnight on December 22, when the House will vote.

    Parliament's Standing Finance Committee will start discussing the new budget on November 29.

    The 2006 budget aims to address the three large fiscal problems in the country, Alogoskoufis said during a press conference after a cabinet meeting on Monday.

    Presenting the government‚s 2006 budget, the Greek minister said the budget‚s direct targets were to reduce the country‚s fiscal deficit to 2.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product, to further contain public debt and to boost economic growth and social cohesion.

    Economic growth will not be a secondary target but it will be strengthened further next year, Alogoskoufis stressed, adding that reforms introduced by the government so far (tax reform, labour reform, banks‚ pension problem, a new investment law, joint ventures between public and private sector and a more effective combating of tax evasion) would also help towards achieving higher growth rates. The Greek minister noted that public investments would increase boosting growth in regional Greece.

    Alogoskoufis said that according to the 2006 budget‚s provisions, the general government‚s deficit would fall from 6.65 pct of GDP in 2004 to 4.3 pct in 2005 and to 2.6 pct in 2006, raising the three-year fiscal adjustment to 4.05 percentage points of GDP, of which 3.5 points would be the result of structural changes of permanent nature.

    The Greek minister said the biggest fiscal problems facing the country were its high public debt, tax evasion and overspending by the public sector. Interest spending surpassed 20 percent of the regular budget‚s spending this year, absorbing 5.0 percent of GDP. Alogoskoufis said the government would work consistently to reduce spending on servicing public debt and release funds for growth and social cohesion.

    Commenting on tax evasion, Alogoskoufis said revenues from indirect taxation fell to 13 pct of GDP this year from 15.3 pct in 2000 and 14 pct in 2003, a development showing an expansion of tax evasion activity, mainly in VAT and fuel taxes. This problem would be addressed to with a restructuring of finance ministry‚s mechanisms and more effective cross-checking of data.

    ?Our policy aims to maintain dynamic economic growth and to lay the foundations for a new prospect for Greece and Greeks. We have chosen the hard road, but we are obliged to. We know this policy has cost. It‚s easy for someone to be pleasant, but the significant thing is to be useful both for today and tomorrow,? the Greek minister said.

    Budget for 2006 to spur growth and jobs, PM says

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Monday that the budget for 2006 would fuel economic growth and boost employment while righting economic wrongs of the past.

    "The budget combines the need for a reduction in major fiscal deficits, which we inherited from the past, with our basic goal of strengthening growth, employment and social cohesion," Karamanlis told a cabinet meeting that endorsed the budget before sending it to parliament.

    The government aimed to lower the fiscal deficit to below 3.0% of gross domestic product in 2006 in the mildest but most effective way possible, he noted.

    "Further progress, which is safeguarded in the new budget, rests mainly on measures of a permanent nature that focus on making use of public sector real estate, containing public spending, curbing extravagence, tackling tax evasion, and lowering the public debt," the premier said.

    Tax revenue was anticipated to rise due to increased use of computer cross-checks, reintroduction of regular Value Added Tax declaration, a campaign against tax evasion in the fuel and construction sectors, coupled with a major containment of public expenditure.

    "The budget is a responsible answer to the country's two main challenges. Firstly to continue to free itself from the heavy inheritance of the past, that is to restrict deficits and debt; and secondly to move forward with a sense of certainty and security to a better tomorrow," Karamanlis noted.

    He also underlined that the government was aware of social problems, especially for more vulnerable groups including people on low pensions and wages, and the jobless.

    Opposition, unions blast government's 2006 budget

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Monday sharply criticised the government's budget for 2006 released earlier in the day.

    "The 2006 budget is the Karamanlis government's second untrustworthy budget, displaying a lack of governance" PASOK leader George Papandreou told reporters after a meeting of the party's political council. "The Karamanlis government has lost control of the economy, and it has brought insecurity and deadlock."

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an announcement on Monday termed the 2006 budget as "deeply anti-popular," noting that "it provocatively increases the theft of the working classes to the benefit of plutocracy, continues cuts in funds regarding social rights and needs and promotes the reactionary restructurings and privatisations."

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology claimed that the 2006 budget slashed public spending and public investment.

    "This budget shows a looting of wages and pensions, with social spending savagely reduced, along with public investment. It also contains heavy new taxation at the expense of ordinary people," the party's economic and social policy spokesman, Panayiotis Lafazanis, said in a statement.

    In a separate statement, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) called the budget "a public avowal of the failure of government policy".

    "It is also an avowal that so-called pledges of a frank and fair budget concealed, through a mastery of words, austerity for wage-earners and pensioners and a further weakening of the social state through cuts in social spending. This is not the 'mild adaptation' that was pledged," the GSEE's president, Christos Polyzogopoulos, said.

    [02] PASOK leader insists on party's renewal

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, addressing a session of the party's Political Council on Monday, insisted on the renewal of the party, stating that the renewal of PASOK constitutes a position going back from the period of Andreas Papandreou and the period of Costas Simitis. He added that it also constitutes the position of the "progressive Movement."

    He said that for PASOK, "the renewal and the restructuring is a strategic choice, a choice of victory."

    Papandreou referred to the nenewal which has taken place in all of the Movement's agencies but also to the new positions which PASOK has already elaborated and to the new terminology which has been established, recognising that further specialised positions are needed.

    Referring to the deputies, he stressed that in the next elections PASOK will have at least 40-50 new deputies. He added that "nobody said that half of the deputies will be cut." He noted that "we have democratic procedures and the renewal is an open process."

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Papandreou also referred to the proposal for him to undertake the presidency of the Socialist International, stressing that "it is really a great honour for me, PASOK and for Greece."

    He said "it is a challenge for me to cooperate with all the progressive forces of the world." He referred to "the great challenges" of the current period as "being poverty, inequalities, the creative co-existence of different cultures, democracy, respect of human rights and social justice."

    "I will do everything possible to meet these challenges," said Papandreou who will be the sole candidate for the presidency of Socialist International at the upcoming meeting of its Council to be held in Athens on 30-31 January 2006.

    Papandreou stressed that "the reconstruction is a necessary condition for PASOK's existence."

    Asked to comment on a statement made by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos who asked of him to "recognise a mistake" in his statement in which he asked the media for the projection of new PASOK members, Papandreou stated that "the New Democracy wants to manipulate the mass media while we demand transparency and equal opportunities for all."

    [03] Gov't promotes ‚¨145-mln programme for textile

    The Greek government is promoting a two-year programme aimed to offer financial support to the textile, clothing and footwear industries, worth 145 million euros, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas announced on Monday.

    The minister said the programme was expected to be approved by the European Union by the end of the week. Under the programme, the government will seek to boost the industry's export activities, upgrading product quality, developing innovative actions, modernizing the industry's organizing structure and supporting investment plans.

    Sioufas said Greece would hold a "Fashion Week" show two times annually, from 2006, and said the show would also include products from the clothing and footwear industry.

    Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said the textile industry has acknowledged its problems and was moving towards restructuring, an optimistic sign for the future.

    Representatives of the textile industry said the sector should deal with a deep change in consumers' behaviour since a globalization trend has not affected only the geographical distribution of clothing production. A continuing drop in prices is also affecting consumers' choices, they said.

    The industry praised the EU's measures to limit the import of Chinese textile products. Greek exports had fell by 25 percent in the first quarter of 2005, with the rate slowing to 15 percent in the six-month period. The industry expects to fall to be around 7.0 percent by the end of the year, with imports expected to grow by 7.0 percent in 2005.


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