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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: 'concerted attack' against the euro
  • [02] ND leader speaks with EU's Barroso

  • [01] PM: 'concerted attack' against the euro

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has warned that a "concerted attack" was underway against the euro, with Spain and Portugal now being targeted, after Greece.

    Speaking to the press during an official visit to New Delhi, Papandreou said that he had warned of such an attack by speculators as early as the first EU summit he attended as prime minister, at which time he had stressed that Greece was not Europe's problem and that speculators would find, after Greece, another "weak link" through which to attack the euro.

    The premier stressed that the subsequent targeting of Spain and Portugal indicated that Greece is not an isolated case. The problem, he added, is a European and an international one, and coordinated action and solidarity are needed on this matter.

    To a relevant question, Papandreou said that he intends to put the issue forward at his meeting on Wednesday with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and at the extraordinary EU summit the following day.

    Finance Minister

    Evidence of income criteria for everyone and cash registers everywhere were just two of the upcoming tax measures unveiled by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Sunday, in an interview regarding the government's planned tax reforms that was published by the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Ethnos".

    The minister repeated earlier announcements regarding the abolition of separate tax rates for certain sources of income and said the government intended to abolish early pension privileges and unfair salaries in the public-sector. At the same time, he stressed the need for everyone to contribute according to their means and to provide protection for those that were weakest.

    He confirmed the abolition of a uniform property tax, to be replaced by a scaled property tax that would require those with major real estate holdings to pay the largest amounts, and emphasised the government's determination to use every electronic means available to monitor and cross-check the tax statements submitted by tax payers.

    On the planned pension reforms, the minister said that this was a major issue that addressed current inequities in the system:

    "We are not the only ones who see that when a private-sector employee is required to retire at 65, after a perhaps difficult and harsh working life, and receives the pension he is entitled to from IKA he might feel offended when he sees special groups enjoying pensions several times larger at much younger ages," Papaconstantinou pointed out.

    During the interview, the finance minister also referred to Greece's massive debt and deficit, pointing out that the country will have to borrow 54 billion euros from markets during the current year. He underlined that Greece had not submitted to the 'dictates of the EU' but was taking steps to comply with a set of rules that it had signed for when it joined the eurozone and was currently violating.

    At the same time, the government had to act in order to protect the country's economy at a time when borrowing conditions were extremely difficult, he added. Referring to the current model for growth in Greece, Papaconstantinou said that this was based chiefly on consumption fuelled by borrowing. He noted that the 2010 budget had allocated funds that boosted the income of groups with a high tendency for consumption but also allocated 10.3 billion euros for actions promoting development, noting that the funds freed from wasteful spending could be used to boost growth.

    [02] ND leader speaks with EU's Barroso

    New Democracy (ND) party president Antonis Samaras spoke with the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso on the telephone, during a call made to Greece's main opposition leader by the latter.

    They had a lengthy discussion about European Union economic affairs, the latest unfavourable developments and ways of dealing with the crisis in Europe. Barroso also praised ND's stance toward Greece's efforts to emerge from the crisis, saying that it was positive that the main opposition had not adopted a blanket rejection of all initiatives, which would have sent markets a negative message.

    ND's leader also had a meeting on Friday with trade unionists in DAKE, which is affiliated to conservative ND, and stressed that the government needed to take immediate measures to support those with low incomes, such as low wage earners and pensioners.

    Speaking after the meeting, ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos said that Samaras had called for relief measures to boost and stimulate economic activity in order to avoid a massive surge in unemployment.

    The head of DAKE for the private sector, Kostas Poupakis, underlined the need to protect the income of workers and pensioners from the painful austerity measures planned by the government and blamed successive government mismanagement for the country's current economic problems and for failing to institute mechanisms to protect workers from exploitation.

    Poupakis, also an MEP for ND, noted that DAKE was proposing labour mobilisation to protect such low and middle incomes, while the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) was trying to raise the very low minimum wage currently paid in Greece.

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