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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-10

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Alavanos meets teachers federation
  • [02] Finance minister on inheritance tax abolition

  • [01] Alavanos meets teachers federation

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos, speaking after meeting the board of the Secondary Education Teachers Federation (OLME) on Monday, reiterated the need for an increase in expenditures for education and, at the same time, proposed a decrease in military expenditures.

    Alavanos said that the state is obliged to provide public and free education and stressed the need for the abolition of University Entrance Examinations as soon as possible.

    The SYRIZA leader went on to say that there should be free access to the University, as is the case in Austria, in Germany to an extensive degree, in Scandinavian and in other countries, that will also give substance to the senior high school.

    Referring to secondary education teachers, Alavanos stressed that supporting their great task was very important and, in parallel, they should be upgraded with regard to social security, pensions and salaries.

    [02] Finance minister on inheritance tax abolition

    Laws abolishing inheritance tax and relieving first homes from taxes and tariffs will be passed immediately after the elections in a draft tax bill that is due to be tabled or through an amendment to the draft taxation bill already tabled, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday in an Internet interview appearing in three financial websites.

    The measures will apply immediate after the bill is passed, the minister said. He also clarified that the current tax-free allowances for inheritances would continue to exist and that a 1 percent one-off payment envisaged by the government as inheritance tax would not be imposed on the tax-free section regardless of the size of the inheritance.

    Regarding first homes, all taxes and tariffs except those imposed by local governments would be abolished, he added.

    According to Alogoskoufis, these were not "last-minute handouts" but formed part of a planned programme for the third phase of tax reform, which it was natural that the prime minister would announce before the elections.

    To questions on the taxation in the stock market, Alogoskoufis said that the goal was to gradually abolish the tax on bourse transactions in 2008, possibly as early as January that year.

    The government's plans for the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) hinged on finding the right strategic investor, the minister said. Otherwise, Alogoskoufis continued, the participation of the state would once against be reconsidered and whether this should be further cut back so that OTE will operate like a company with several investors in the framework of competition, in the same way as companies that in the past affected the public sector like National Bank of Greece and Emporiki Bank.

    For the Public Power Corporation (PPC), he noted that the important thing was to restructure and reform its operations. "This is our first concern, not privatisations," he added.

    Outlining the government's plans for the Greek Postal Savings Bank, Alogoskoufis said he would not like to see this merge with a Greek financial institution.

    "Something like that would reduce competition and adulterate the GPSB's role as a bank for small savers and investors," Alogoskoufis explained, stressing that the government was not considering the sale of the postal bank's stock to a Greek strategic investor, namely a Greek bank.

    He also underlined that there was no change in policy regarding ATEBank and that the government would retain a majority share of 51 percent.

    "ATEBank plays a special role in the agricultural sector and we have to protect this role. We will restrict the state's share, which today is much more than 51 percent. We can restrict this up to 51 percent," Alogoskoufis said.

    Questioned about the possible fiscal repercussions from the recent fires in Evia and the Peloponnese, the finance minister said that both the direct and indirect consequences would not be so great as to create problems with the budget.

    "Of course, they will lead to some budget overruns that will be limited and manageable. They will not be of such an extent that we can talk about a change in course," Alogoskoufis said.


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