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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Com't debate on higher education draft bill begins
  • [02] FinMin: Pension reform decisions by next gov't

  • [01] Com't debate on higher education draft bill begins

    Discussion on a framework draft bill on higher education began in Parliament's educational affairs committee late Tuesday in the presence of two party leaders, including main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, as well as the relevant minister.

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou unveiled the bill, invoking problems that have remained unresolved, as she said, as a result of the inadequate implementation of 1980s-era Law 1268 and an "institutional deficit" of Greece's higher educational institutions in relation to corresponding European ones.

    Papandreou added that he turned up at the meeting so as not to worsen tension even more by requesting the bill's withdrawal but to contribute to the easing of the already tense climate.

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos called on the government to withdraw the bill, taking into consideration the reactions of a portion of the educational community to the revision of Article 16 preventing non-state universities.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rapporteur Georgios Hourmouziadis discerned that "behind the letter of the bill" is the further linking of the university with a "market reasoning" and of competition.

    Discussions will continue on Wednesday on the articles, with the attendance of representatives of interested parties.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of George Papandreou.

    [02] FinMin: Pension reform decisions by next gov't

    A commission established to propose pension reforms will submit its recommendations regarding the country's social insurance system by the end of the year, before the ideas presented for dialogue and debate by all interested parties, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said a wide-ranging public dialogue on Greece's overall pension system was currently underway, and that any decisions would come after general elections, due for next year.

    Conversely, Alogoskoufis said he did not discuss the election issue with EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in Brussels this week, since the issue was covered by the country's constitution.

    "I met with Mr. Almunia and we discussed the process over the social insurance issue. The next government will have the initiative on the issue," he noted.

    The minister said he also briefed his EU counterparts over the course of the Greek economy and the condition of the economy at the time when the government took office in early 2004.

    "In 2004 we had two targets: Fiscal adjustment and structural reforms for the support of economic growth along with employment through private investments and exports," he said.

    Alogoskoufis said this policy has already generated significant results. The general government's deficit fell by around five percentage points of GDP while economic growth was 3.7 pct in 2005 and was expected to reach 4.3 pct in 2006. "We also achieved an increase in exports, higher employment and lower unemployment," he noted.

    Referring to an ECOFIN council meeting in Brussels, Alogoskoufis said the meeting discussed current economic conditions in the Union, labour cost developments, stability and growth programmes and preparations of a spring Council to be held March 8-9. The meeting also discussed tax policy in Europe and, in particular, proposals to harmonise corporate taxes.

    Alogoskoufis said there were disagreements between EU member-states over the issue.

    Commenting on a plan to further privatise the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Alogoskoufis said he was expecting recommendations by privatisation consultants.

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