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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-04-16

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Task Force chief: Gov't has determination, backing of European Commission
  • [02] 'SYRIZA guarantees an orderly and safe exit from crisis,' Tsipras tells Economist Conference
  • [03] FinMin: Primary surplus a 'national target' to further reduce state debt

  • [01] Task Force chief: Gov't has determination, backing of European Commission

    AMNA--"The Greek government has the determination and ability to continue on the path of reforms for growth and employment, and they see this in Europe. The European Commission has the desire to support Greece on the recovery path, as they see in Europe that the government's intentions are serious," European Commission Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach told an Economist conference on Tuesday.

    Addressing the second-day of an Economist round-table on "Reforms in Greece for restoration of growth, employment and competitiveness" Reichenbach said in reply to a question that he is optimistic, following his contacts with the Hellenic Association of Banks and with members of the government on the recpitalisation of the banking system over the coming months, but added that there is still remains to be seen whether that decision will be attained.

    On the restoration of liquidity, he said there is a hopeful prospect that this will be achieved by 2015, adding that this hope is founded on the 4 billion euros annually t0 be forthcoming via the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), noting that 2 billion euro are available for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), although the recapitalisation of the banks remains the 'key'. He also referred to the creation of a financial tool so that capital exceeding 8 billion euro could be utilized by the real economy.

    Reichenbach further noted the importance of efforts being made at all levels to simplify the licensing procedures, increase exports, improve the taxation and businesses climate and liquidity.

    [02] 'SYRIZA guarantees an orderly and safe exit from crisis,' Tsipras tells Economist Conference

    ANA-MPA --

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Speaking at the Economist Conference taking place in Athens on Tuesday, main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras offered assurances that his leftist party "guarantees an orderly and safe exit from the crisis, guarantees that it will change Greece."

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; He underlined that his party was ready to undertake the historic responsibility of governing the country, for which it was planning to implement major, progressive structural reforms.

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; "We are certain that we will succeed," he added, outlining his party's positions. He presented these as a strategic plan for exiting the crisis but also a reply to the prime minister's address on Monday concerning the outcome of negotiations with the EU-IMF troika.

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Tsipras accused the prime minister of deliberately attempting to "dress up" the currently grim reality and said that Samaras appeared to be preparing for "either a heroic exit or elections".

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; "If it is the latter, we forgive him and encourage him to take the next step - it will be good for both himself and the country," SYRIZA's leader added.

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Tsipras was also highly critical of Germany's policy in the EU and expressed concern about the deepening north-south divide in Europe, saying that the Eurozone was "balancing on a knife-edge" as a result of Germany's actions. He accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of using the crisis as an opportunity to impose German economic hegemony via Roman-style tactics of "divide and rule".

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Noting the rise of a German party favouring the country's exit from the euro, SYRIZA's leader predicted that similar parties will arise in other countries, possibly even Greece, but stressed that SYRIZA was not among them and remained firmly Europhile, despite constant attempts to distort its positions.

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; "Our choice is not a return to the national currency, our choice is to save Greece within the euro," he emphasised.

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Outlining his party's priorities, Tsipras stressed the need for an "immediate and radical change of course for the economy, a major political change, immediate suspension of the memorandum and abolition of the disastrous austerity policy." He also called for a renegotiation of Greece's loan obligations and a "vision for reforms and escape forward".

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; A 'national salvation' government with SYRIZA as its core will replace the failed austerity memorandums with a national plan for restructuring production and economic growth, aiming to boost domestic demand and reverse the recession through rapid-return public investments, he said. He also repeated a promise to restore the minimum wage to the same level as on December 31, 2011 and radically overhaul Greek politics.

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Greece and the entire European south need a new plan for European public investments, a new Marshall Plan, in order to recover and thus bring about a recovery of the Eurozone's cohesion, he added.

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; In response, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that up to a short while ago, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras "was promising to bring the minimum wage back to the levels of year 2009." Said Kedikoglou, "Now he is saying he will bring it back to the 2011 level. We expect that in two or three weeks he will bring it to its present level."

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Kedikoglou was responding to criticism Tsipras levelled at Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during his address at the Economic conference taking place in Athens, charging him with "dressing up" the current grim reality and preparing for "either a heroic exit or elections."

    font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; Criticising the main opposition leader, Kedikoglou said, "Once he used to say he would abolish, tear up and negotiate the memorandum; now he says he will just ask for its suspension. The only certain thing Tsipras has suspended is common sense and responsibility."

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    [03] FinMin: Primary surplus a 'national target' to further reduce state debt

    ANA-MPA --Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras set out achievement of a primary surplus this year as a "national target" in order to activate the Eurogroup clause for a further reduction of the state debt, at a press conference on Tuesday during which he itemized the 17-point agreement reached with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika of Greece's international lenders.

    Stournaras said that the agreement "sends out a message of optimism, but the road is rugged until Greece returns to the markets."

    "The government now anticipates the smooth disbursement of the tranches (1.8 billion euro remaining from December and 6 billion euro in the first quarter of 2013) and the 7.2 billion euro that have been approved for the recapitalisation of the banks.

    The troika's next review will be in June, when a reduction of VAT on restaurant services to the 13 percent bracket will be examined, he said, while, according to the government's economic staff, if the fiscal progress continue in the first quarter of the year, there will be no fiscal shortfall for 2013 in June either. He said that the fiscal shortfall for the period 2015-2016 is estimated at 2.5 euro and a better execution of the 2013-2014 budget can more than make up for it.

    The full text of the agreement with the troika will be made public in approximately two weeks.

    More specifically, the agreement foresees that the number of civil servants will have been reduced by 160,000 (chiefly due to the ratio of one hiring per five departures and the mandatory departures). The minister believes that with the mandatory of 15,000 civil servants (4,000 this year and 11,000 in 2014), there will be a very great benefit, chiefly due to their replacement with an equal number of youth with degrees.

    On the overdue debts to the Tax Bureau and social security funds(which have been created up to December 31, 2012), the new arrangement provides for their repayment in 48 installments, while all natural entities, in agreement with the tax officer and depending on their financial abilities (unemployed, etc). will be able to increase the number of installments.

    For legal entities and the self-employed, the 48 installments will be strictly held to, while those who had entered into an older arrangement will not be able to make use of the new arrangement. But for legal entities, there will be a reduction (for debts incurred up to 31 December 2012) of 50 percent of the increment.

    For debts above 75,000 euro, an accountant's signature will be required, while for debts above 300,000 euro collateral will be required.

    The Finance Ministry anticipates revenues of more than one billion euro from the new arrangement on the overdue debts.

    Also being examined is increasing the minimum for instituting legal proceedings from 5,000 euros to 10,000 euros. In the first 10 days of April, the Finance Ministry paid out an additional 200 million euro in outstanding state debts to the private sector, and a total of 600-700 million are expected to be paid out by the end of the month.

    Stournaras further said that there will be an across-the-board reduction of 15 percent in the new, single real estate tax that will replace the extraordinary surtax on real estate (EETHDE). He added that there will be no tax-free limit this year, while the possibility of a tax-free sum will be considered for 2014, depending on the course of revenues.

    He further said that the recapitalisation of the banks needs to be completed by the end of April, while the 50 billion euro that have been earmarked for this purpose were adequate. In the period April-July, the four systemic banks could incorporate the smaller banks via buy-outs. To date, there has been no interest in the Greek banks by foreign investors, he said, adding "would that there was".

    Stournaras noted that 20 billion euro in deposits have returned to Greek banks since last June, adding that the role of the Secretariat General for Revenues was being enhanced, as preventive audits by the financial crimes squad (SDOE) were being transferred to the secretariat.

    The Finance Minister also announced that the new taxation bill will be unveiled in May.

    According to the government's economic team, the priorities set out are improvement of the tax administration, supporting growth and employment, and creating a social protection network.

    The other points of the agreement with the troika include efficiency of expenditures, tax incentives for investments and Renewable Energy Sources (RES), adequate liquidity for the market, boosting the Hellenic Fiscal Stability Fund (HFSF), advancing structural changes (expansion of the liberalisation of professions, retail trade, boosting exports), and accelerating the procedures for the privatisations.


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