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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-06

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Inner Cabinet focuses on economy; FinMin on GDP revision
  • [02] PASOK criticises FinMin on GDP revision
  • [03] Gov't: Education reforms bill imminent

  • [01] Inner Cabinet focuses on economy; FinMin on GDP revision

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Inner Cabinet, convened to focus on issues falling under the competence of the national economy and finance ministry. On his part, Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the Inner Cabinet' members on the course of the 2006 state budget which, as he said, met forecasts regarding tax revenues. He stressed that the New Democracy government's policy on taxation, which was accompanied by a reduction of the tax rates, had &quot;a significant axis, which is the curbing of tax-evasion&quot;. Alogoskoufis added that &quot;with the cross-checking and better audits, as well as with the incentives we gave, we had a very good course in tax revenues in 2006 as well as in the first month of 2007&quot;. However, he stressed, &quot;tax evasion is a matter of social justice, because the tax revenues, to a large degree, finance all the priorities of the social state, education, health etc.&quot; The minister also underlined that efforts would no focus on changing the attitude of and convincing all the Greeks that they must ask for receipts, and at the same time castigate the attitude of the tax-evaders, adding that &quot;tax evasion is considered in our country, in a way, as 'cleverness', while in reality it is an anti-social attitude&quot;. Questioned over a negative reference by international broadcaster CNN regarding the revision of Greek GDP (based on new accounting methods) and subsequent criticism by the opposition, Alogoskoufis responded that &quot;some people take inconsequential press articles and attempt to create domestic issues&quot;. &quot;We have a long history of negative press articles on Greece in many foreign media, for various expediencies. What is important is that we are doing the right thing. The specific matter referred to by CNN is also a matter of tax evasion. Just as we ask of everyone to declare their incomes, so too must a country that respects itself declare its revenues correctly and know exactly what its GDP is, even though this entails certain obligations within the framework of its international (Community) participation,&quot; Alogoskoufis explained.

    [02] PASOK criticises FinMin on GDP revision

    Main opposition PASOK party finance and economy sector chief Vasso Papandreou on Tuesday criticised statements made earlier by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, on the revision of GDP and tax evasion, saying that "Greek citizens will be called on to pay".

    "A few days ago, the government announced two billion euros for combatting poverty over the next five years, meaning 400 million a year. In 2007, we shall be called on to pay 2.5 billion euros retrogressively and for an increased contribution, plus 1.5 billion that we are losing from the Cohesion Fund, and from now on we shall be paying 500 million euros a year as a greater contribution to the European Union's Funds," Vasso Papandreou said in a statement.

    Papandreou further said that "we became a laughing stock internationally, once again, with the trick of revising GDP, that was characterised by the CNN as one of the greatest blunders in the world. This trick has a great cost that the Greek citizens will be called on to pay."

    Also referring to the issue of tax evasion, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Political Bureau member and economic and social policy chief Panayiotis Lafazanis said that "the government's election announcements made by Mr. George Alogoskoufis on cracking down on tax evasion are characterised by profound hypocrisy, since the government, all these years, has been strengthening the tax immunity of big capital with its policy, the tax raid on working classes and on all who pay their taxes and with beneficial arrangements for the big debtors of the state, while making the tax system all the more intricate and, primarily, more unfair."

    [03] Gov't: Education reforms bill imminent

    The government on Tuesday replied to a barrage of press questions regarding the exact date of the tabling in Parliament of a much-awaited draft law for higher education with the phrase "it won't be long".

    Asked about continuing takeovers and sit-ins at various university campuses by students and activists mostly affiliated with leftist parties, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos referred to a "prejudice of those reacting without even seeing the final plan, therefore, they simply do not want any changes."

    Moreover, the spokesman said ruling ND is the political force in the country insisting on reforms, something also desired by the majority of citizens.

    ANA-MPA photo of Roussopoulos.


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