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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-17
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PASOK: budget based on fake figuresMain opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Wednesday criticised the budget tabled by the ruling party as "unreliable" and "dangerous", claiming that it was based on fake figures and would further burden the Greek economy.
"The Greek economy's developmental potential has been lost in the last five years," he said.
PASOK's spokesman also criticised the draft budget for increasing social and economic inequality and for an unfair division of the tax burden and the 'repercussions' of the financial crisis, as well as for restricting developmental incentives and making the consequences of the crisis deeper and longer.
ISTAME criticised ruling party budget
The Andreas Papandreou Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME) on Wednesday criticised the budget tabled by the government for 2009, describing it as "unreliable and unfortunate".
The institute said several targets and forecasts included in the draft budget were completely unrealistic and almost impossible to meet, especially a forecast increase in revenues by 12 percent relative to 2008, which translated into an additional 6.8 billion euros. Concerning a forecast increase in state spending by 9.1 percent, or 4.5 billion euros, ISTAME said that this target would also be hard to meet.
It pointed to a shortfall in public revenue, adding that the government's taxation policies and tax inspection policies helped magnify the unfairness of the tax system. It also pointed out that this revenue was not based on sustainable economic growth but new tax measures, without which public revenue would have diverged significantly from the targets.
ISTAME claimed that state spending was directed mainly toward non-developmental activities and that public debt had risen sharply in absolute terms, while remaining at a virtual standstill as a percentage of GDP.
PASOK on PM's stance on Vatopedi case Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Wednesday accused the prime minister of "shunning battle by not attending Tuesday's discussion in parliament on the findings of the government-proposed investigation committee concerning the land swaps between the state and Vatopedi Monastery." "Assuming political responsibility should be accompanied by actions such as the resignations of the government ministers implicated and setting up a preliminary examination committee," Papaconstantinou said. He also maintained that "from the onset the government's intention was to cover up the case." PASOK's spokesman also stated that his party will say 'yes' to a preliminary examination committee.
 SEV's Daskalopoulos: changes to bankrupt systemCurrent conditions made it imperative that the country have a strong, reliable and modern governance, Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos said on Wednesday, in a comment on the demonstrations and riots that have rocked Greece over the past 10 days.
"We need a united will, able to finally carry out a long-term programme of necessary changes to the functioning of institutions, to education, to public administration and the developmental structure," he said.
No Greek could deny their share of collective responsibility for creating a bankrupt system that Greece's young people felt compelled to throw stones at, Daskalopoulos added.
According SEV's president, the events that followed the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos at the hands of police in Exarhia on December 6 had revealed a non-existent state and bankrupt institutions, while the social uprising was intensified by the financial crisis that would get worse in the coming months.
He called for a new approach and the "investment of political capital" to deal with the crisis.
 Athens is a safe tourist destination, minister says"Athens is a safe city, a safe tourist destination," Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos stressed on Wednesday, adding that the violent incidents were only "a small and sad parenthesis". Addressing the ministry's Crisis Management Committee working meeting, Spiliotopoulos suggested calm and called on the 'tourist product' sector to contribute toward this direction. "All necessary measures will be taken to restore Greece's picture abroad," he said, adding that a joint effort is being made by the tourism ministry and the foreign ministry through the Greek diplomatic missions to soften the negative consequences of the recent sad events.
 Political reactions to youth protest on AcropolisThe government and main opposition PASOK on Wednesday both criticised the latest forms of protest adopted by young people. They were particularly critical of a group that hung two huge banners from the side of the Athens Acropolis, one with the word 'Resistance' in four languages and a second urging participation in European-wide demonstrations on Thursday.
According to government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros this move was "completely unjustifiable" and unacceptable, "in the sense that it besmirches the country's image abroad".
Regarding the protestors that broke into the ERT state television studios on Tuesday during a live news broadcast, Antonaros said the incident was being investigated. He also questioned the failure of the opposition parties, especially PASOK, to condemn "actions like these that are dangerous for the smooth operation of democratic institutions."
He stressed that there was no question of ERT President Christos Panagopoulos resigning over the incident.
The government was concerned by a spate of high school sit-ins but the problem was not as big as it was being presented, he added in response to other questions.
He stressed that those organising the sit-ins were a minority and did not have the right to exclude others from learning.
The protest on the Acropolis was also criticised by the main opposition, which described it as excessive.
"I do not consider that the country is in a time of revolution, nor are we living under some regime that requires that we give the image of a country - an image that has surely gone all around the world - in overall resistance," said PASOK shadow minister for education Anna Diamantopoulou.
PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou, on his part, said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had fully backed the political leadership of all the ministries responsible for the youth demonstrations and rioting of the past 10 days, including the education minister and the deputy interior minister who had "continued partying at a nightclub after hearing of the events in Exarchia".
He also linked the outbreak of violence with issues related to education, saying that one of PASOK's first steps as a government would be to increase funding for education.
Regarding the Acropolis protest, Papaconstantinou said that "he condemned the fact that our country was embarrassed worldwide at this time and the government is responsible".
He also criticised the arrests of teenagers indicted for felonies under terrorism "when I don't see the arrests of those truly responsible".
On Tuesday's incident at ERT and the protest on the Acropolis, however, the spokesman noted that "there are better ways for someone to make their opinions known".
In a sarcastic comment on the verdict handed down by a Thessaloniki court on officers found guilty of beating up a Cypriot student at a march, Papaconstantinou said that "it is impressive that in this country the cost of a beating is five euros a day".
 Greek stocks hold groundGreek stocks held their ground on the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, ending marginally up by 0.29 pct at the end of the day's trading. The composite index of the market ended at 1,746.58 points, with turnover a medium-to-low 155.7 million euros, of which 9.8 million euros were block trades.
Individual sector indices mostly moved higher, with Health (10.36 pct), Financial Services (3.83 pct) and Oil & Gas (1.88 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Personal & Household (-6.64 pct), Mass Media (-4.07pct) and Commercial (-4.05 pct) posted the biggest losses.
The FTSE 20 index gained 0.77 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.78 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index ended down 0.65 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 139 to 75 with another 45 issues unchanged.
 President receives ActionAidHellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias received the board members of ActionAid on Wednesday and commended Kenyan teacher Tobias Nyabola for his humanitarian action. President Papoulias underlined that the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR 60) coincides with the 10th anniversary of ActionAid in Greece, an international organization focusing on people's right to life without fear, destitution, poverty and illnesses. Referring to Nyabola, the president stressed that his work in the small Kenyan community of Bama was commendable, pointing out that if his example was followed then famine and poverty could be defeated, allowing people to have a dignified life. He also praised the ActionAid contribution and the work done by its honorary president Alexandra Mitsotakis, daughter of Constantine Mitsotakis, a former Greek premier and now honorary president of ruling New Democracy Party (ND). A special reference was made by President Papoulias to the "Zagori" bottled spring water company for its humanitarian assistance to Africa. On his part, Nyabola thanked President Papoulias for recognizing his work, stressing that no one in his country believed that his efforts could attract the interest of a State president. Caption: Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias (right) greets Kenyan teacher Tobias Nyabola (left) on Wednesday, during the latter's visit to the presidential mansion with the board of the charity ActionAid.
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