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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-05-26

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou on 'Kallikratis' plan
  • [02] Finance ministry staff under investigation
  • [03] Govāt on social security
  • [04] Greek-Israeli air exercise
  • [05] Bill on services in airports
  • [06] John Malkovich in Athens
  • [07] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Papandreou on 'Kallikratis' plan

    Prime Minister George Papandreou termed, on Tuesday night, the 'Kallikratis' local government bill as a "precondition for the country's exit from the crisis" and "a democratic revolution".

    Speaking in Parliament during a debate on a government's bill aiming at reforming local government institutions, Papandreou also said that the reform constituted a "foundation stone for the Greece we are building" and an important political option "linked to the Greece of growth, rule of law and social justice."

    He also accused the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party of "avoiding to assume its responsibilities regarding the reform of the country."

    [02] Finance ministry staff under investigation

    The finance ministry on Tuesday announced that several members of the ministry's own staff were currently the focus of investigations for suspected corruption, either because they own suspiciously large real estate holdings or based on complaints made by the public to the 1517 phone line set up specifically for this purpose.

    The investigations are part of a series of drastic measures taken to improve revenue collection at tax offices and restore transparency, the ministry said.

    The spotlight is currently on some 70 ministry employees that declared an annual income of roughly 50,000 euros each but owned real estate whose worth is estimated between 800,000 to three million euros - an average of 1.228 million euros each.

    The ministry is also conducting internal inquiries into 50 complaints made by the public concerning incidents of bribery, smuggling, illegal financial activity and a series of other irregularities involving employees at tax offices, customs, the financial crimes squad SDOE, and the real estate service.

    Among others, the ministry intends to replace the heads of 20 tax offices for failing to meet revenue-raising targets and has ordered inspections for 234 finance ministry employees that failed to submit a tax statement in 2007-2008 or whose statement has not been cleared.

    Lastly, it will transfer some 70 employees to other posts throughout the country to improve the functioning of tax offices. Some 42 employees will be moved from inspection services to local tax offices, while 25 will be moved from tax offices to inspection services.

    In addition to the above immediate measures, a ministry announcement said, a draft bill for completely reorganising revenue-raising mechanisms and tax offices will soon be unveiled for public consultation.

    [03] Govāt on social security

    "Nothing is under discussion. Only what has been agreed upon stands ā¦ and is included in the draft law and the memorandum," government spokesman George Petalotis clarified on Tuesday when asked by reporters if the government is considering any of the social security reform proposals included in a letter addressed to the labour minister by a troika comprised of the IMF, ECB and European Commission.

    Petalotis said the letter's contents are beyond what has been agreed to, and that the government has valid arguments to reject the troikaās demands. "We do not make secret deals; it is clear that everything that comes to our attention is being reported."

    He also dismissed speculation over new austerity measures.

    [04] Greek-Israeli air exercise

    A Greek-Israeli air exercise with the codename "Minoas 2010" is taking place between Tuesday and June 3 in the framework of the military cooperation programme between the two countries' air forces.

    The exercise is developing on the mainland, the Ionian Sea and the Aegean sea and participating on the Israeli side are five F16s and five F15s and 15 Greek F16s that have been stationed at the 110 squadron in Souda.

    As part of the exercise, training will take place of the crews of the participating aircraft, in air refuelling by the Israeli tanker KC-807 and for this purpose three regions have been bound in the northern Aegean, the central Ionian and south of Crete.

    In parallel, the crews of Greek aircraft not participating in the exercise will also have the possibility of training in air refuelling.

    [05] Bill on services in airports

    The government is currently preparing a draft bill envisioning the full and final opening of ground handling services at the country's 34 regional airports, with the relevant infrastructure, transport and networks ministry expecting to table the draft bill in Parliament in the coming period.

    The ministry expects that the new law will cut costs up to 50 pct, or up to 30 euros per passenger, boosting charter flights to regional airports.

    The bill also includes a deregulation of counter services to ensure the smoother operation of regional airports. Olympic Airways was the exclusive operator of handling services up until 2000, while handling services were freed in the five larger airports of the country in the period 2000-2009.

    The government has also temporarily abolished landing and terminal fees at regional airports for the period April 1-Sept. 30, 2010, in a bid to attract more charter flights.

    Airlines are estimated to save up to 10 million euros.

    [06] John Malkovich in Athens

    The exploits of Austrian murderer Jack Unterweger will be brought to the stage in Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday by actor John Malkovich, who will star in two performances of "The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer" at the Hellenic Cosmos arts centre's theatre on Pireos Street.

    The play combines a monologue by the actor with opera and classical music, featuring arias by Vivaldi, Mozart, Haydn and Weber to be the voice of the 11 women killed by Unterweger over his long and covert career as a serial killer, parallel to his public persona as an an author, journalist and favourite child of the Vienna intellectual elite.

    The play opened in Los Angeles last June and has toured several capitals around the world since that time. The play is directed by Michael Sturminger and is accompanied by the Vienna Academy orchestra conducted by Martin Haselbock. The vocalists are the sopranos Bernarda Bobro Louise Fribo and Aleksandra Zamojska.

    The last time Malkovich visited Athens was 25 years ago, when he was acting in the film "Eleni".

    [07] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The social security reforms, the Finance Ministry's 'operation clean hands', the crisis in the eurozone and the Vatopedi monastery case, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition New Democracy charges on Vatopedi case: Ruling PASOK manufacturing 'guilty' individuals.

    APOGEVMATINI: "Shocking increase in working years (required for pension) and dramatic cutbacks in working mothers' pensions".

    AVGHI: "Derision of the workers with the new social security system ".

    AVRIANI: "Civil servants', state suppliers', doctors', lawyers' and civil engineers' bank accounts to open".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Former parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis' outburst in parliament: I cannot be a colleague of 30 rats".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Millions of euros 'gift' to pharmaceutical companies the same time as the social security funds are called on to pay unbearable burdens".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "EU-government war of statements' over the social security changes".

    ESTIA: "Taxation an obstacle and counter-incentive to development".

    ETHNOS: "Tax Bureau employees caught in Tax Bureau's net".

    IMERISSIA: "Operation 'Clean hands' - Tax Bureau employees under the authorities' microscope".

    KATHIMERINI: "Tax bureau's employees' files open - Incriminating evidence on huge property holdings".

    LOGOS: "What they are hiding from us on the social security changes - Pressure for 40 work-years escalates".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Triple blow against stock markets".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Government lies about alleged pressure for measures it has already decided".

    TA NEA: "Discounts on bread, too, now - The economic crisis bares its teeth".

    TO VIMA: "Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos' bluff on the 40-year work requirement for - Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) annoyed, 'but covers' Loverdos".

    VRADYNI: "The Munchausen... government - EU exposed Loverdos' big lie".


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