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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-12-27

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM and interior minister discuss trimming bureaucracy
  • [02] FinMin optimistic about economy in 2007
  • [03] Coalition's Alavanos visits food safety agency EFET

  • [01] PM and interior minister discuss trimming bureaucracy

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a meeting with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday focused on combating red tape and improving the services provided to the people.

    Pavlopoulos stated that they also discussed the implementation of the special operational plan on public administration within the framework of the 4th operational period.

    He pointed out that this is the first time that a special operational plan on public administration exists aimed at combating red tape and exploiting e-governance.

    Pavlopoulos also added that e-governance will help in the efforts to combat red tape and improve the services provided to the people.

    Karamanlis returned to Athens on Tuesday after spending Christmas with his family in Florina, northwest Greece.

    While in the city, the prime minister and his wife attended the local Florina custom of lighting a great fire in the central city square that symbolizes the fire lit by the shepherds to warm the newly born Jesus in Bethlehem.

    During his stay in the Florina prefecture, at the northwestern Greek borders, the prime minister visited the picturesque Pisoderi in Prespa and the traditional village of Nymfeo and met with local people.

    [02] FinMin optimistic about economy in 2007

    The consolidation of fiscal reform, reinforcement of the development process and greater social cohesion are the main characteristics of the economy for 2007, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told ANA on Wednesday.

    "A mild fiscal adjustment policy and a broad reform programme aimed at dealing more effectively both with problems inherited from the past and future challenges, are being implemented since taking over the country‚s government", Alogoskoufis noted. Such problems are high fiscal deficits, a very large public debt, declining competitiveness, high unemployment, particularly among the young, and the counterproductive public sector, stated the finance minister, adding that all these undermined the country‚s future leading the economy to introversion and low productivity.

    Dynamic growth, notable decline of unemployment, considerable improvement of public finances and greater social cohesion were achieved through the reduction of taxation rates for businesses within ataxation reform framework. In addition, more incentives for new investments were offered -particularly in the country‚s regions- within the framework of a new investment law, as well as through public and private sector partnerships, new generation privatizations and a 3rd Community Support Framework reform.

    Growth rate

    The progress made in the economy is proven by the existing figures, Alogoskoufis added. In spite of difficulties such as high oil prices and low growth rates in the Eurozone, unemployment dropped from 11.3 percent in the first quarter of 2004 to 8.3 percent in the third quarter of 2006. Growth rate is strong, he stressed, at 3.7 percent in 2005, and 4.1 percent in the first half of 2006, while in the third quarter of 2006 it reached 4.4 percent putting to rest all post-Olympic Games recession scenarios. Competitiveness shows notable improvement based on the course of exports and the reports issued by foreign organizations.

    Fiscal deficits are steadily declining. From 7.8 percent of GDP in 2004 the deficit will drop to 2.4 percent in 2007. Competitiveness in the banking system was boosted thanks to the settlement reached in the bank employees‚ social insurance problem and the privatizations done by the government benefiting households, businesses and the economy in general. After many years, Greece is again on the international investment map attracting major investments. Foreign investments in the first nine months of the year reached 3.7 billion euros and are tenfold compared to the same period in 2005. The progress observed was achieved at a time when not all reform initiatives had given fruit meaning that the Greek economy will preserve its dynamic characteristics and further improve its performance.

    The basic characteristics of the economy in 2007, according to the finance minister, will be the consolidation of fiscal reform with the deficit being considerably under the 3 percent limit, at 2.4 percent of the GDP, for a second year in a row. Development process will be reinforced with growth being based on investments and exports which considerably increased in the first 9 months of 2006 with a 9.5 percent and 20.2 percent rate respectively. The amended investment law passed in December offers more incentives for investments, while the funding of projects placed within the National Strategic Reference Framework will get underway in 2007 with 82 percent of them being directed to the country‚s regions.

    [03] Coalition's Alavanos visits food safety agency EFET

    The president of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday stressed that the need for greater state support to Greece's Unified Food Control Body (EFET) so that it was better staffed and covered all areas of Greece, after a meeting with the agency's leadership.

    "The issue of food quality is not just an issue for this season, it is a matter for the entire year," he said, calling for better coordination with the other agencies involved in inspecting food safety until Greece had a truly unified system for food quality control.

    Alavanos also commented on rising crime statistics and the handling of the public order ministry, saying that the ministry "has set a wrong course for the ship and already run it aground".

    He repeated criticism of Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, especially his recent statements concerning the parties of the Left and SYN, in particular.


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