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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-06-27

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Samaras: ND against EU-IMF memo
  • [02] Demis Roussos at Herod Atticus Odeon
  • [03] Major pension, labour reforms
  • [04] New leftist party eyed

  • [01] Samaras: ND against EU-IMF memo

    (ANA-MPA) -- Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras addressed the last day of the party's 8th congress in a southern Athens indoor stadium on Sunday by emphasising that ND's goal is to relieve the country of the memorandum it signed with the EU and IMF. (ANA-MPA)

    "It (PASOK government) gave the keys away in signing the memorandum, which leads to a vicious cycle of recession and destruction," he told party delegates and office-holders. (ANA-MPA)

    "As long as we are tied to the memorandum the country will be subjected to huge sacrifices but with minimal results. We say that Greece can exit from the memorandum's commitments and stand on its own powers, and to exploit its assets and comparative advantages," he added. (ANA-MPA)

    Moreover, Samaras, a former minister, repeated his charges of "PASOK's crutches", noting that "the battle against us by these crutches shows their fear for ND. Those who signed the memorandum say that nothing else could have been done, why then didn't they take milder and more effective measures sooner, before they surrendered the keys to the country's governance?"

    Beyond ruling PASOK, Samaras also indirectly took aim at two rivals, former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who was kicked out of ND's parliamentary group for voting in favour of the memorandum, as well as Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, himself a former ND deputy.

    "Those who back this policy as sidekicks to PASOK refer to a so-called vote of responsibility. Yet they didn't know what measures they were voting for in the memorandum (ANA-MPA) regarding social security and labour relations; politics is not stale smile or cheap shots in television windows, politics is an act of responsibility," he added.

    [02] Demis Roussos at Herod Atticus Odeon

    Noted singer Demis Roussos returned for a appearance in Greece for the first time in more than three and a half decades, choosing the Herod Atticus Odeon at the foot of the Acropolis in central Athens for a single sold-out performance on Saturday, June 26, 2010. Roussos, who hails from an ethnic Greek background in Alexandria and is a permanent Paris resident, appeared within the framework of the annual Athens Festival, which features internationally acclaimed theatre, dance and musical performances at the Herod Atticus and ancient Epidaurus (Epidavros) outdoor theatre in the northeast Peloponnese. (ANA-MPA / H. BILIOS)

    [03] Major pension, labour reforms

    (ANA-MPA) -- A landmark draft bill implementing major reforms in Greece's creaky social security system and its domestic labour market was unveiled on Friday by the relevant minister, legislation that also envisions the possibility of more changes every two years on the basis on actuarial studies.

    Amongst the major changes cited in the draft bill are increases in retirement ages, with the age of 65 serving as the general retirement age -- 60 years will be the retirement limit on the condition of 40 years of verified work. The change will abolish the 35-year and 37-year limits currently in force in Greece's social security system. (ANA-MPA)

    Exceptions to this regime will be individuals insured before 1983 in various fund affiliated with state-run utilities and enterprises, banks and the press fund, where 35-year limit will remain, or, 37 years of work for retirement at age 58.

    Just as importantly, the method of calculating monthly social security pension rates will be changed, with the basic monthly rate set at 360 euros (in current rates). (ANA-MPA) The amount added on to the basic pension rate will be calculated on the 64-percent figure of total contributions paid.

    Furthermore, the so-called "13th" and "14th" salaries will be eliminated in both the public and private sectors, meeting one of the major commitments agreed to by the government with the "troika" -- comprised of the Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- in a memorandum that preceded approval for Greece's 110-billion-euro "support mechanism".

    Nevertheless, Labour & Social Insurances Minister Andreas Loverdos clarified that bonuses -- 400 euros ahead of the Christmas holiday; 200 euros before Easter and 200 euros for the summer holidays -- (ANA-MPA) will be considered by the state as "preferred subsidisation" in place of the extra two months of pay.

    The draft bill, conversely, does not abolish pensions to widows or eligible widowers or the abolition of small pensions to eligible unmarried daughters of deceased beneficiaries.

    As per provisions for early retirement by women in the wider public sector with at least one minor -- a benefit that garnered extensive scrutiny by eurozone and IMF inspectors -- the change foreseen in the bill includes raising retirement ages for eligible women every year, beginning in 2011. Specifically, at age 52 as of Jan. 1, 2011; age 55 on 2012 and reaching the general limit of 65 as of Jan. 1, 2013. The same aforementioned eligible women will retain the right to a reduced retirement pension if they leave work at ages 50, 53 and 60, respectively.

    Finally, individuals hired for the public sector as of Jan. 1, 2011 will be insured with the IKA fund, Greece's largest social security and health fund. (ANA-MPA)

    The landmark draft bill was tabled in Parliament on Friday after the end of an inner cabinet meeting and will reportedly open for debate on Tuesday, with a vote by the Parliament plenum a week later.

    [04] New leftist party eyed

    Deputy Fotis Kouvelis on Sunday described the characteristics of a new party of the "renewalist democratic left" which aspires "to again come to the forefront defending public interest."

    A national conference of cadres of the specific leftist grouping, most of whom quit the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party recently, signed the party's charter.

    Addressing supporters, Kouvelis said "we are optimistic and at the same time responsible ... we are standing on very solid ground; we are joining political and social struggles to a strategy of a democratic path towards socialism, particularly amid the conditions of the current economic, social and political crisis."


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