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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-12-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Government launches debate on 2007 budget

  • [01] Government launches debate on 2007 budget

    A deputy of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party on Sunday launched a parliamentary debate on the 2007 budget, saying it embodied the government's policy for economic and social progress.

    "This is a budget characterised by a sense of responsibility, prospects, consistency and effectiveness, representing what is socially necessary, socially feasible, and desirable in terms of growth," Nikolaos Lengas, MP for Trikala, told the house.

    "Coming generations are our horizon - not the next general election," Lengas noted.

    The government's fiscal reform drive had brought results over two and a half years, despite major debts and deficits inherited from the previous government.

    "Forecasts by former finance ministers of (main opposition) PASOK in December 2004 of a return to rising unemployment and a decline in growth have been disproved by events," the deputy said.

    "Growth is at 4.4%, the fiscal deficit at 2.6% of gross domestic product, and joblessness at 8.7%, which is the level PASOK inherited in 1993 and then raised to 11.4%," he stated.

    In addition, the main opposition had selectively employed the European Union's autumn forecasts for its arguments. Conversely, the report was entitled "Investments Recover" and predicted a rise in growth and employment coupled with a decline in inflation.

    "Both the 2006 and 2007 budgets have a target of fiscal ease, so that we can grant the social dividend to vulnerable sections of the population," Lengas underlined.

    Ahead of time, the government had met its election pledge of raising a supplement on low pensions by 490 euros a year. It had also increased farmers' pensions by 700 euros a year, hiked unemployment benefit and lowered tax brackets.

    Turning to PASOK deputies in the house, Lengas stated: "When we made these commitments to the public, you asked where the money would be found. We are simultaneously lowering deficits and keeping our promises."

    Joblessness had fallen by 2.5 basis points, but the government would not rest as long as one single person remained without a job, the deputy pledged.

    Finally, the ruling party MP raised the question of privatisation underway for Athens-quoted OTE telcom, a pledge contained in ND's election platform that has come under fire from PASOK and the firm's staff union.

    "The government is seeking strategic alliances. But PASOK was giving 62% of the company with no planning, and it legalised a labour regime for (OTE mobile phone subsidiary) Cosmote that it is today opposing for OTE," Lengas stated.

    Main opposition calls budget divisive

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Sunday sharply criticised the government for its 2007 budget, which it called divisive and class-oriented.

    "This class-based, dead-end budget that divides Greeks is (ruling) New Democracy's last," deputy Petros Efthymiou told parliament after hearing the the government's presentation of the bill at the start of debate.

    "The budget's only point is to embellish the fiscal situation at a time when economic problems are worsening. There is also a brutal redistribution of wealth, which is moving away from weaker social groups towards the powerful few - ND's friends at home and abroad," the MP charged.

    In comparison with 2004, next year would see the imposition of 8.5 billion euros in additional taxes, up 22% in three years. Poorer people would shoulder the majority of the increase, he claimed.

    "Merely from a reduction in tax on non-distributed (corporate) earnings, one billion euros will be granted to wealth and status. Half of the one billion will go to the country's 200 biggest companies, with 110,614 firms sharing the rest," Efthymiou added.

    Finmin raps opposition

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis rapped PASOK for its objections to the budget.

    The minister recalled that in the past, the party had stormed out of parliament instead of voting for a rise in farmers' pensions and a supplement on low pensions.

    The party had also declined to vote in favour of tax reductions, he added.

    Communists see budget hurting workers

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) sees the government's 2007 budget as a tool for implementing policies to hurt workers.

    "Like past budgets of (main opposition) PASOK, this new budget consistently serves the goals of making smaller firms pay up while boosting the profitability of monopolies," KKE deputy Angelos Tzekis told parliament at the state of debate on the bill.

    "It also freezes or cut backs social spending," Tzekis claimed.

    He stated that opposition between the ruling and main opposition parties was artificial, as both parties supported the same damaging policies.

    "The government has pegged weekly and daily wages below inflation," the deputy added.

    Coalition sees "brutal" cash redistribution

    The opposition Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology on Sunday slammed the government's 2007 budget for what it called a "brutal" redistribution of wealth in favour of the rich.

    "I can think of no other era when such a brutal redistribution of income has been presented, in favour of the few and against the rest," deputy Yiannis Dragasakis told parliament at the beginning of debate on the budget.

    "Its first principle is that some will profit and others will pay up. Its second principle is that the rich will not even lose one euro....The budget widens social inequality instead of narrowing it," Dragasakis claimed.

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