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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-08

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PASOK comments on OTE, economy
  • [02] Gov't: N-power not considered

  • [01] PASOK comments on OTE, economy

    Main opposition PASOK on Thursday leveled sharp criticism against the government on a series of issues, such as its handling of a bid for Greece's phone utility Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), defence procurements but also the general state of the economy.

    PASOK spokesman George Papacostantinou raised a series of questions regarding the negotiations currently underway between the government and Deutsche Telekom for OTE's management, particularly what DT's ultimate plans for Greece and OTE's workforce might be.

    He noted, for example, that the German-based company had a few months ago announced plans to lay off up to 3,000-4,000 employees by 2010.

    Asked to elaborate on a statement made by PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday that his party would "exhaust all legal and political means" to restore state control of OTE, the spokesman said that the specific actions would depend on the terms of the agreement with DT, the state's share in OTE and the state of the telecoms market.

    While not claiming that this could be easily accomplished, PASOK ?will seek to restore the situation existing before the government abolished the two laws that ensured the state's control over OTE," he added.

    Another point raised by Papaconstantinou was that of profits allegedly lost because the government had not sold its share directly to DT, which had acquired this through a third party, and whether these "lost profits" might be returned to the state sector.

    Commenting on an article published by the Financial Times on the ailing state of the Greek economy, meanwhile, the spokesman said this had ascertained a major slowdown of economic activity and the collapse of the country competitiveness.

    "We may not have reached the stage where we will see a new wave of emigration, as the Financial Times say, but what is certain is that the policies of this government have dragged us back several years," he said.

    Papaconstantinou pointed to alarming figures for the construction sector in Greece, which showed that building activity had declined 13.4 percent in January-February overall, while the decrease was as high as 26 percent in Attica and 20 percent in Western Macedonia.

    He also pointed to persistently high inflation, which stood at 4.4 percent for the second month running and was much higher than the EU average, while running even higher for basic items like food (6.6 percent) and housing (10 percent).

    [02] Gov't: N-power not considered

    Development Minister Christos Folias, who holds the influential energy portfolio in the government, on Wednesday evening reiterated, this time from Parliament's podium, that nuclear energy was not in the government's long-term planning.

    Folias made the statement after the issue emerged this week in the Greek capital during an international conference on energy security, particularly after a favorable opinion by Public Works, Town Planning and Environment Minister George Souflias at the same conference.

    Given current skyrocketing oil prices and Greece's dependence on lignite-fired power plants, a wide-ranging discussion on alternative sources of energy has recently sprung onto the national limelight.

    On his part, main opposition PASOK deputy and former minister Christos Papoutsis asked whether Souflias' statements qualify as a "trial balloon" to gauge public sentiment on nuclear energy production in the east Mediterranean nation.

    Caption: A domestically produced nuclear reactor is installed inside the New Gori No. 1 nuclear power plant on the construction site of two 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants in Busan, South Korea, 31 March 2008. ANA-MPA/EPA/YONHAP


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