|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-09-12
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PASOK leader unveils economic programeMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Saturday unveiled his party's economic policy to the country's producer classes. Speaking in Thessaloniki at the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), Papandreou underlined that major decisions needed to be taken to deal with the economic crisis, which is part of a wider crisis the country is undergoing in the sectors of the social state, education, health, and the environment, and an ineffective state mechanism.
The PASOK leader said he was confident that a collective effort by citizens, workers, the business world and all creative forces of the country could lead the country out of this crisis and return to growth, creating new wealth. "A wealth equally distributed. Because today two different policy views are clashing. A view calling for cutbacks and another calling for investments. A view calling for shrinkage and another for investments. PASOK knows that Greece is a country of countless possibilities, and it has proven that it knows how to take advantage of them," he said.
Papandreou presented an economic plan for the first 100 days of governance - if PASOK wins the October 4 general elections- aimed at supporting domestic markets, boosting medium and low incomes and drastically cutting state overspending. "Our aim is to keep the market alive, to offer life to the economy and to create the basis for the necessary next step: green development, a radical change to the way we create wealth," he said.
The main opposition leader said that his program had nothing in common with practices calling for the freezing of wages and pensions and a constant tax raid on medium incomes. He underlined that these policies sharpened and deepened a recession leading to an even greater fiscal problem.
His plan to exiting the economic crisis is based on four basic axes:
1. Supporting incomes for social cohesion reasons and for boosting demand in the economy, with pay increases above the inflation rate, offering an extra benefit pay to lower incomes, adopting measures to protecting borrowers and overdebted households, combating price increases in the market, freezing of all public sector enterprises (DEKO) rates for one year, and advancing a radical tax reform that will promote re-distribution.
2. Rekindling the market and boosting building activity with an increase of public investments, measures to boost liquidity in the market, reforming Tiresias (the interbank list of bad debtors) and with initiatives for improving the business climate in the country.
3. Protecting and supporting employment, by subsidizing social security contributions in the hiring of new unemployed people, increasing the unemployment benefit, protecting workers during crises and implementing social labour programs.
4. Putting the state finances in order with radical changes for combating overspending, boosting tax revenues and a full restructuring of inspection mechanisms.
These measures will be implemented within the first 100 days of governance, with strict timetables and priorities, along with the passing of specific laws laying the groundwork for a restructuring of the country, a return to strong economic growth rates and social cohesion. Within the first three months, the government will table in parliament and with the EU a new credible three-year Stability and Growth Program aimed at regaining high growth rates and fiscal consolidation, he said.
Papandreou said PASOK's non-negotiable target for the four-year term of government was to create new wealth through green development, an added value for the country, to achieve the target of a fair redistribution of wealth. The priority areas are a new direction for energy, a restructuring of rural Greece, an integrated proposal for attracting investments with the focus on the country's comparative advantage - tourism, shipping, culture - and building new comparable advantages for the country by investing in clean environment, education, research and digital technology.
The second front of the first 100 days would be immediate action to restoring citizens' trust in the institutions, the state and the political system, Papandreou continued, adding that these actions would include the strengthening the autonomy of politics and transparency in public spending, a new electoral law, transparency of the political parties, public works and public procurements, upgrading parliamentary procedures, meritocracy in civil administration, restoring the state's supervisory role and a radical decentralisation. "For a state functioning effectively to the benefit of citizens, ensuring their rights". Papandreou pledged that every policy, every action by PASOK as government, would be characterised by meritocracy, transparency, quality, participation, evaluation, and accountability.
He underlined that other priorities were education, the national health care system and the social security system.
 Reactions to Papandreou addressThe political parties reacted to main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's address on Saturday evening at the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement released by its press office, said that Papandreou had confirmed for the umpteenth time that PASO was ready to "attack" the incomes and rights of the people, and was treading the well-known road that serves the interests of the plutocracy, hand-in-hand with ruling New Democracy (ND).
What PASOK promises, the KKE said, is an increase of profitability for the business groups, a new state reinforcement for them and their exemption from social security contributions for new employees in the name of confrontation of unemployment and the so-called 'green growth', while at the same time planning "mockery increases" in salaries, and attempting to pass that mockery as PASOK's "qualitative difference" over ND's policy.
The reinstatement of the state's supervisory role and radical decentralisation pledged by Papandreou means more efficient advancement of PASOK's anti-popular policy, expansion of the commercialisation of the public social services, and an increase in the tax burden on the people.
The KKE said that there are two paths to growth. The one is represented mainly by ND and PASOK, and is the path that brings financial crises, whereas the other path is represented by the KKE and encapsulated in the slogan "Alliance for popular power and economy".
It is up to the working people to draw their conclusions, the KKE said, adding that only the reinforcement of the KKE and organisation of the people's counter attack can halt the "storm" coming after the elections, regardless of whether it is ND or PASOK in the government.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance), in a press office announcement, said that despite Papandreou's efforts with ambiguous and general positions, he failed to convince the public that the "new PASOK he preaches will not be the same as the PASOK we already know".
Without specific commitments on salaries and pensions, on abolition of specific anti-labor and anti-social insurance laws, without clear positions on the necessary tax reform, and with evasion on the critical issue of privatizations, Papandreou attempted to present as supposedly progressive a deeply conservative policy that will only widen the already big regional and social inequalities, SYRIZA added.
It said that the country today needs a deep-rooted change of policy, with clear, radical commitments for reversals, and not abstract promises of "better management" of a system that is sinking in impasses and the crisis, such as the oft-quoted and run-of-the-mill promise of a "smaller and more flexible government scheme".
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, in a brief announcement, described Papandreou's appearance as "retro", reminiscent of his father (the late former prime minister and founder of PASOK) Andreas Papandreou, comprising many promises without adequate explanations.
His appearance was that of a man wavering to achieve his goal without knowing how to do so, and "like changing a bicycle chain while in motion on an uphill", LAOS concluded.
 KKE announces candidatesThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Saturday announced its ballots for the October 4 general elections, with KKE leader Aleka Papariga running in the Athens B' and Thessaloniki A' constituencies, while the State MPs ticket is headed by actor Costas Kazakos, followed by the party's press office director Makis Mailis, and Larissa Labor Center president and KKE central committee member Takis Tsiogas in the third slot.
Athens A' constituency candidates include journalist Liana Kanelli, long-time party cadre Thanassis Pafilis and Stelios Lambrou, while the Athens B' constituency candidates include George Mavrikos, Eva Mela, Ioannis Protoulis and Spyros Halvatzis.
The Piraeus A' constituency candidates include Diamanto Manolakou, the Piraeus B' constituency candidates include Vera Nikolaidou, with the candidates for the 'Rest of Attica' constituency feature Ioannis Giokas, and Angelos Tzekis in the Thessaloniki B' constituency.
According to statistical figures, the KKE is putting forward a total of 424 candidates nationwide, of which 150 (35 percent) are running for parliament for the first time, and 153 are women.
With respect to age, 12.5 percent are between 20 and 30 years of age, 17.45 percent are 30-40 years of age, 27.12 percent are between 40 and 50, 34.43 percent are between 50 and 60, and just 7.78 percent are between 60 and 70 years of age.
Occupation-wise, 36.32 percent of the candidates are workers, 8.0 percent are employed in the wider public sector and local governments, 10.84 percent are teachers/professors, 4.7 percent are pensioners, 8.72 percent are merchants, 6.36 percent are farmers, 6.13 percent are doctors, 4.24 percent are lawyers, 3.3 percent are engineers, 1.41 percent are journalists, 0.94 percent are artists, and 7.54 percent are from a variety of scientific and professional fields with higher education (AEI) degrees.
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