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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-02

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Economic prospects remain favourable, FinMin says
  • [02] Gov't on the Muslim minority, EU-Turkey ties
  • [03] Euro-Ombudsman briefs PM on Greece's standing

  • [01] Economic prospects remain favourable, FinMin says

    Greece's economic prospects remained favourable, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday after presenting the draft budget plan for 2007.

    Alogoskoufis added that the ministry was achieving its goal of reducing the fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP, to 2.6 pct this year and 2.4 pct in 2007.

    "We have achieved a great fiscal adjustment in the last few years with deficit reducing and public debt falling significantly," he said.

    The main goals of the government‚s economic policy for 2007 include further reducing the deficit and the public debt; improving competitiveness; lowering unemployment, supporting lower-income groups and boosting investments and development.

    The draft budget envisages raises of 50 euros and 35 euros for pension payments to farmers and supplementary pension payments, respectively, as well as raising the tax exempt ceiling to 12,000 euros.

    Alogoskoufis said prospects remained favourable, adding that if there was no any surprise hikes in fuel prices the inflation rate would ebb in 2007 and average real wages would exceed the inflation rate.

    Spending in a Public Investments Programme will total 8.750 billion euros next year, up from 8.1 billion in 2006, to be covered by national funds (2.4 billion euros) and co-financed funds (6.35 billion). The programme will be fixed at 4.2 pct of the country‚s GDP.

    Alogoskoufis said the draft budget did not include extra spending for elections, while he underlined higher spending on healthcare. The Greek minister said hiring by the public sector would be restrained and noted that the government intended to contain spending.

    The draft budget also included a special chapter on revising the country‚s national accounts system based on the year 2000, whereas Alogoskoufis stressed that a decision to revise upwards the GDP was obligatory for Greece, as all other EU member-states have completed this procedure.

    Athens has asked an extension to the deadline for this procedure by September 2006.

    The revision was obligatory but was decided for fundamental reasons as well, since changes in the services sector should be considered, Alogoskoufis noted. The minister said the revised figures have been submitted to Eurostat and that a response was awaited in the next few weeks. The figures showed a 25.7-pct higher revision of Greek GDP.

    The Labour, Agriculture, Public Order and Aegean ministries are the ones with the largest percentage increase in funds from a new state budget, 13.9 pct, 9.9 pct, 8.3 pct and 8.1 pct, respectively.

    Funds earmarked for the Education ministry are up 5.9 pct, Health 5.7 pct, National Defence 5.2 pct, Interior 6.0 pct, Merchant Marine 6.3 pct, Economy and Finance 0.1 pct, Justice 6.5 pct, Foreign Affairs 6.6 pct, Transport 3.2 pct, Culture 4.5 pct, Public Works 5.6 pct, Development 8.0 pct, Tourism 5.1 pct and Macedonia-Thrace 7.1 pct.

    ANA-MPA file photo of Alogoskoufis.

    [02] Gov't on the Muslim minority, EU-Turkey ties

    There is only one minority in Greece, the Muslim minority, which enjoys total equality before the law and the State, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Monday, in reaction to Turkish leadership's recent statements pertaining to the minority's standard of living in the Thrace region.

    The government has drawn up a specific strategy and expects from Ankara to fully meet its commitments toward the 25 EU member-states, he added, commenting on the future of the EU-Turkey relations.

    ANA-MPA file photo of Antonaros.

    [03] Euro-Ombudsman briefs PM on Greece's standing

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday met here with European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros, who presented the Greek side with a report referring to the country's standing in the 2005 annual report for European Union member-states.

    Diamantouros, who held the same position on a national level in Greece before assuming the Europe-wide post, said Greece was eighth among EU countries in terms of reports and complaints to his office.

    "We are, therefore, far ahead of the European average," he added, in referring to the national figures.

    Moreover, Diamantouros said he briefed Karamanlis over the particular issues and sectors that generated the most complaints by Greek citizens, which broadly can be divided into four categories: poor administrative practices, such as failure to answer or act on a citizen's request, misuse of authority etc.; protests over job placements in EU agencies; corporate and individual appeals of decisions dealing with EU-related contracts, and finally, free access to official and public documents.

    Finally, the European Ombudsman said public administrations across the Union accept his office's recommendations by a rate that exceeds 93 percent.

    ANA-MPA file photo of Diamantouros.


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