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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou: households 'hostages' to debt
  • [02] Gov't on cost of living issue

  • [01] Papandreou: households 'hostages' to debt

    High prices and bank cartels had turned borrowers into hostages of upward spiralling debt, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed in Parliament on Friday and said the government should urgently adopt PASOK's proposals for aiding over-indebted households. The prime minister could no longer hide behind the global economic crisis, he added.

    "You have not protected the Greek economy. With your policies, you are undermining social cohesion," Papandreou emphasised. He painted a dire picture where desperate loan-takers were constantly trying to recycle their debts and resorting ever higher borrowing, while adding that the numbers for auctions and foreclosures concealed real people.

    "There are thousands of tragic stories of families that lose their homes, are thrown out onto the street, even led to complete collapse," Papandreou said. He cited the example of a court case to reverse the foreclosure and seizure by a bank of a house of 70 square metres in Nikaia that belonged to a large family with small children for a debt of just 2,000 euros. The mother had apparently borrowed the sum of 4,700 euros and repaid about half but the bank was going ahead with the foreclosure because she was unable to pay the rest.

    "This is a regime of arbitrary lawlessness that you have allowed to bloom," he accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, while noting that the government had simultaneously passed laws that essentially handed millions of euros to those owing much greater sums.

    Papandreou repeated his party's proposals for over-indebted households, such as increasing the lowest limit for banks to seize properties from 10,000 euros to 20,000 euros.

    "We expect you to do your duty and not to just support the big interests that support and guide you," he added.

    He also asked Karamanlis how long he intended to continue occupying himself with the "sell-off to foreigners using scandalous means of state enterprises," listing Greece's former state phone utility OTE, the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, the Athens water company EYDAP and the Public Power Corporation (PPC) in the future.

    "For how long will Greeks see the state's property but also his own being sold at bargain basement prices while various middlemen profit," PASOK's leader said.

    Karatzaferis says main residences should be exempt from foreclosure

    Speaking in Parliament during the debate, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president George Karatzaferis reiterated his proposal that primary residences be exempt from seizure, stressing that they "are not just concrete, but memories of a family's life."

    He also charges that banks have increased profits of between 45 and 240 percent, with only Hellenic Post Bank showing a reduction in profits.

    Regarding spiraling prices, he said the same products were being sold cheaper in Germany than Greece, although salaries in that country were double those of Greece.

    "When we have such immense differences in households' 'basket', how can consumers be on time with their debt repayments?" he asked.

    Caption: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday tabled a question in Parliament regarding over-borrowing by Greek households and a rise in mortgage foreclosures by banks. ANA-MPA - Maria Marogianni

    [02] Gov't on cost of living issue

    The government spokesman on Friday answered repeated questions involving cost-of-living indexes and the inflation rate in the country, given a bevy of press reports the same day pointing to a consumers report apparently showing certain Greek products being sold at higher prices in Greece than in other European countries, with one high-profile example pointing to the sale of Greek feta cheese for less in Berlin than in Athens.

    "Some of the press reports touch on issues that no one can say do not exist," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said during his regular press briefing, while acknowledging that certain products in the local market are expensive for the average wage-earner's pocket book.

    Additionally, the spokesman said the government is serious about tackling the problem by implementing some 41 recently announced measures to boost competitiveness and free market practices.

    In specifically commenting on the "feta example", Antonaros said he will not comment on specific products, while noting that it is always beneficial, however, to compare similar quantities, products and similar sales contexts.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo.

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