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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-09

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou: saving the economy the first priority
  • [02] Legislation to raise tax on fuel tabled in Parliament
  • [03] Finmin unveils new tax rates
  • [04] Greek, Turkish CG chiefs meet
  • [05] Stocks surge 4.96%

  • [01] Papandreou: saving the economy the first priority

    The government's efforts to tackle the country's economic problems will move in three main directions, Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Tuesday: reducing the public debt, promoting growth and accelerating legislative and institutional measures.

    Speaking after a Cabinet meeting that discussed the draft tax bill and public-sector incomes policy, Papandreou stressed that the government's primary duty was to save the economy and reduce the public debt, striving at all times for fair solutions that protected as much as possible the lower and middle classes.

    He also underlined the need to speed up the government's work for encouraging economic growth, stressing the need "for all of us to step on the gas in carrying out developmental measures". Otherwise, Papandreou warned, the cost and repercussions of the crisis would be much greater.

    Lastly, he said the government had to pick up the pace of initiatives in terms of institutions, noting that these did not entail a great cost and could provide great relief for ordinary citizens, with better state services and improved living conditions.

    Talking about the dire economic situation that made Greece the centre of international discussion, Papandreou said that the current crisis was the result of mistakes and mismanagement in previous years, laying the blame for this on the past New Democracy governments.

    The premier also stressed that the crisis did not "come out of nowhere" but was the result of mainly two factors: firstly, the criminal policies of ND that led the country to the edge of the abyss and, secondly, the fact that Greece was the victim of speculative attacks from all-powerful international markets that had been left unchecked, in spite of the great damage they had wrought only a year and a half ago.

    On this, Papandreou pointed out to the Cabinet that he will be meeting in Paris on Wednesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has "spoken about the need for other measures to govern markets".

    [02] Legislation to raise tax on fuel tabled in Parliament

    Legislation increasing the special consumption tax on petrol and diesel was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday and will be in force from the same day. Calculating the higher tax and the accompanying increase in VAT, the total increase in the price of petrol comes to 14.3 cents per litre and 6 cents per litre for diesel.

    [03] Finmin unveils new tax rates

    All Greek tax-payers will have a tax-free allowance of 12,000 euros annually under the new income tax scale unveiled on Tuesday by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.

    For annual incomes above this there is a rising tax scale, starting at 18 percent for annual incomes between 12,001 and 16,000 euros and rising to a maximum rate of 40 percent for those declaring incomes above 60,000 euros a year.

    There are five intervening taxation rates between these two extremes, with taxes set at 24 percent for the 16,001-22,000 euros income bracket, 26 percent for the 22,001-26,000 euros income bracket, 32 percent for 26,001-32,000 euros income bracket, 36 percent for the 32,001-40,000 euros income bracket and 38 percent for the 40,001-60,000 euros income bracket.

    Papaconstantinou also announced the abolition of all independently taxed sources of income and tax exemptions, or cases where income was taxed at a special rate. The measures will not apply to 'vulnerable' social groups but always in conjunction with income criteria, he said.

    The minister has also announced an annual property tax for large real estate holdings, equal to 0.1 percent of properties valued between 400,001 euros-500,000 euros and rising gradually to reach 1 percent for properties valued above 800,000 euros.

    Also to be taxed are the real estate holdings of the Church of Greece, at the same rate as other public benefit organisations of the broader public sector.

    [04] Greek, Turkish CG chiefs meet

    (ANA-MPA) -- The commanders of Greece and Turkey's coast guards met in Athens on Tuesday, with talks reportedly focusing on the now burning issue of illegal migration as well as an exchange of views on "encounters" between each country's patrol vessels around the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean.

    Hellenic Coast Guard Commandant Vice-Adm. Athanassios Boussios had a lengthy meeting with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Rear-Adm. Izzet Artunc, after the latter arrived at the Greek service's headquarters in Piraeus.

    Responding to a press question on the lack of implementation by Turkey of a 2001 bilateral protocol for the re-admission of illegal migrants and the fact that the port of Izmir is not activated, in accordance with the protocol's provisions, Artunc stated that these "are issues discussed in the dialogue underway between the two countries' foreign ministries."

    He added that both countries "are victims" of illegal migrant smuggling rings, and that within this framework "we are trying to find a solution to the problem."

    [05] Stocks surge 4.96%

    Stocks recovered spectacularly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reflecting strong gains in bank shares after a four-day sharp decline of prices.

    Analysts said the Greek market discounted positive developments in the country‚s fiscal problems during an EU Summit in Brussels, while a spectacular decline in the Greek bond spread also helped sentiment. The composite index of the market jumped 4.96 pct to end at 1,895.96 points, with turnover a strong 298.407 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 5.93 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 4.89 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 2.35 pct. The Food sectors (0.79 pct) was the only one to suffer losses, while Banks (8.64 pct) and Health (5.88 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Elfico (19.23 pct), Aspis Bank (19.12 pct), Texapret (15.38 pct) and Alpha Bank (14.93 pct) were top gainers, while Klonatex (12.5 pct), Crown Hellas (9.72 pct) and Elbisco (9.26 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 147 to 53 with another 45 issues unchanged.


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