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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-03

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM cites 'tough, necessary' austerity measures
  • [02] ND disagrees with government's measures
  • [03] Rehn welcomes measures

  • [01] PM cites 'tough, necessary' austerity measures

    (ANA-MPA) -- Őinister George Papandreou left open the prospect of Greece seeking recourse to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if the country is not financially backed by the EU, speaking after a lengthy Cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning during which additional measures to slash the double-digit budget deficit were approved.

    Speaking during the Cabinet meeting, Papandreou told his ministers that the emphasis is now shifting to what the EU will now do.

    [02] ND disagrees with government's measures

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras expressed disagreement with the economic measures announced by the government on Wednesday, saying that "the measures are not a salvation mixture for the economy, but paralyse it and injure the social fabric."

    Samaras criticised the government stressing that the ruling PASOK's "handlings over the past five months brought us above all to the threshold of bankruptcy, what it did and mainly what it did not do," adding that "this is the responsibility of today's PASOK that it cannot transfer to others."

    He further said that the country's problems "are very serious and all the parties that ruled, and of course New Democracy as well, have a longstanding responsibility."

    "New Democracy made mistakes and paid for them, today it has turned page, I am not apologising for anyone, I am looking at the future. The problem is the prime minister's, who instead of looking at the future is dealing only with yesterday," he said.

    Samaras went on to say that if Prime Minister George Papandreou had taken the measures earlier they would have been milder, less painful and would not be imposed by the European Union auditors, while claiming that until now borrowing with increased interest rates has cost us about 300 million euros.

    He assessed that "the measures will aggravate recession because 25 to 30 percent of the purchasing power of households will be lost and that if measures to boost the economy are not taken immediately the government will be obliged to take new decisions that will be painful for the people."

    The ND leader said "what is needed is a different policy mixture of policy for us to exit from the crisis and public extravagance must be curbed" stressing at the same time that ND rejects the VAT increase, the increase in taxation for fuel and the cutting of the 14th salary and counterproposes greater taxation for tobacco and drinks, greater taxation for luxury products, an increase in revenues from the utilisation of the public sector's property and greater cutbacks in the state's operational expenditures.

    Lastly, Samaras emphasised that "for us the red line is the protection of the low wage earners and the low pensioners and support for the middle class with measures that give breathers to the market."

    He proposed as being in a positive direction a bolder restriction of public extravagance, the boosting of the market, the taking of measures for the repatriation of capital from abroad, as well as the utilisation of the country's comparative advantages in tourism and shipping.

    [03] Rehn welcomes measures

    The Greek government‚s announcement of new supplementary measures was a critical turn in the history of the country‚s fiscal and economic developments, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters in Brussels, the EU Commissioner said what is most important now is the full and rapid implementation of the measures.

    Rehn said Greece was showing determination and unity in reforming the country and putting its fiscal deficit under control. He said that measures announced would help Greece restoring its confidence in international markets and among its European partners, and contribute in calming down market concerns.

    Commenting on the measures announced, Rehn said the measures needed approval by the Greek Parliament and called for the maximum possible consensus among opposition political parties.

    The Commissioner said the EU‚s executive was present to help Greece and the Greek society and stressed that himself has many Greek friends wishing to see real changes in the society.

    "We had an economic, political and statistical explosion of the Greek fiscal deficit in recent years," which led EU to take decision to correct the deficit, Rehn said, while he expressed his satisfaction that measures focused on spending and stressed they were of permanent nature with a positive impact on the Greek economy‚s competitiveness -the "Achilles‚ heel" of the country in recent years.

    The Commission stressed, however, that the measures were adequate to achieving this year‚s goals, but further fiscal consolidation was needed in 2011 and 2012.


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