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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 14-12-04

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] State Budget debate to continue on Thursday
  • [02] Venizelos: Troika 'toughened' due to opposition proposals

  • [01] State Budget debate to continue on Thursday

    Major coalition partner New Democracy (ND) and main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parties hurled criticism at each other during the opening session of the plenum discussion of 2015's draft state budget in Parliament on Wednesday evening.

    Referring to the pending final review of Greece's fiscal adjustment programme by the troika of Greece's lenders, ND rapporteur Andreas Lykourentzos charged the main opposition, "which has never ruled," with making things more difficult by "creating political instability."

    "The main opposition," he said, "has started blackmailing the country by trampling over the constitution. Constitutional rules that call for an increased majority to vote for the president of the Republic were not introduced to give the majority the right to dissolve Parliament. They sought collaboration, not division. Nobody has the right to threaten the country's future with his obsessions."

    The budget he said would see Greece's return to growth, with a speeding up of exports and attraction of investments, as long as there is political stability. He also ruled out the introduction of new fiscally restrictive and recessionary measures, which "would be catastrophic at this time and would not be allowed either by society or by the economy."

    SYRIZA's rapporteur said the government's interests "do not coincide with those of the whole of society" and criticised the Europe-wide policy of "lack of any long-term plan beyond that of reducing salaries, pensions and the social state."

    Calling the 2015 budget "class-based", Tsakalotos said among other things that "from 2008 to 2015 inclusive, 8.8 billion euros will have been cut from the ministries of Education and Health, when the expenditures for the ministry of Citizen Protection are raised." Conversely, he added, SYRIZA will present in Parliament a medium-term fiscal programme and a budget that "will begin with a fresh popular directive and deal with popular needs on a class basis, as class-based as your own, but with the knowledge that we represent other strata of society as well besides those of the work sector."

    In his opening address, PASOK general rapporteur Yiannis Koutsoukos highlighted the issue of public debt and noted that its parameters have been changed.

    "The main opposition has presented a proposal on the debt issue according to which we could add the around 300 billion euros of our debt to the trillions of debt of the South and go to a comprehensive negotiation," he said. "In this case, however, due the size of the problem and the changes that should be made to the functioning of the global financial system, nobody can say there are any solutions in the foreseeable future. On the contrary, our engagement in an adventurous process, an ineffective one with no way back, is more than certain."

    He also urged SYRIZA to submit its own budget. "Let them tell us how a balanced budget can be achieved when tax revenues will be cut by 20 percent, the real estate tax will be annulled and at the same time spending will increase by some billion euros. This obviously cannot be implemented, not even as an academic exercise," he said.

    On her part, Democratic Left (DIMAR) rapporteur Asimina Xirotiri said the troika's disagreement on the fiscal gap seems like the first revision of the budget and the "first major retreat of the government with the acceptance of new measures."

    The 2015 budget clearly aims at revenue collection, with the government being obviously concerned with how it would achieve accounting primary surpluses ahead of the agreement it would reach with the troika, she said. However, "today there is no agreement and the budget is under a full and painful review, after the violent pressures by the troika to impose new hard measures."

    "The lenders have opened a new round of painful measures. They seek changes that will keep the country hostage to the known recessionary destructive policies. The government, the country has to say "no" to these predatory ambitions and negotiate hard, because none of the above is related to the needs of the Greek society," she added.

    "The anti-popular attack will continue, on the pretext of maintaining the capitalist development," communist KKE party rapporteur Nikos Karathanasopoulos said.

    He did not question the government's intentions to achieve "development"; he underlined, however, that this will be an anti-popular one, as it will be based on fiscal consolidation and the promotion of capitalist restructuring. This in practice means the escalation of tax raids in the popular strata and new tax cuts for business groups – as well as further promotion of the flexibility in the labour market, in order to offer even cheaper labour force.

    He also hurled criticism at the main opposition claiming that SYRIZA "should make clear to its members and supporters that our stay in the Eurozone is accompanied by predetermined rules, such as the one on balanced budgets."

    "Those who have been convinced - five years later - that we go from bad to worse, know very well that the dilemma is the following: they will either help (SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras secure a majority to govern or not," Independent Greeks (ANEL) rapporteur Nikos Nikolopoulos said during the opening session of the plenum discussion.

    "The budget is fictitious. Troika will delete and shamelessly rewrite its own demands," he stated.

    On his part, Golden Dawn rapporteur Ilias Panagiotaros, addressing the government, said: "You said that for a third year, with a sense of responsibility, you have met the deadlines and achieved the targets. But, whose targets? Surely not the targets of the Greek citizens. Perhaps the targets of the bankrupt bankers, or the global speculative funds."

    On his part Independent Democratic Deputies general rapporteur Mimis Androulakis opined that "the Greece of 2015 is again on a razor edge...2015 looks like 2009 mostly because the ghost of a doomed concurrence of many sources of risk and of many crises is looming over our heads".

    Androulakis said that "even if all the State Budget's goals are met, the best case scenario would be that the country's credit rating is increased by half or one notch, so we will be in a 'junk bonds' zone for the next period" he noted adding that "the drop in the internal demand will not be covered by the exports sector. In this period we did not have any indication of funds, capitals and people's transfers to rising, dynamic sectors. On the contrary we had a worsening of the quality of competitiveness, of exports."

    The five-day debate will continue until Sunday night, when it will be put to the vote at midnight.

    [02] Venizelos: Troika 'toughened' due to opposition proposals

    ANA-MPA -- The issue with the troika is "held back" by a necessary precondition - the relative expression of the "Greek people's will", government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday in Basel, Switzerland, on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council of foreign ministers.

    More specifically, referring to recent developments, Venizelos underlined that Greece's partners were displaying "reservations and a toughened stance," so that Greece will provide the necessary guarantees, as a result of opposition proposals that he said can lead to the "derailment of Greece" and the loss of its achievements in a few days. He underlined that the necessary guarantees will be provided to Greece's partners "given the will on the part of the Greek people."

    "Because we are acting in the name of the Greek people and we must have strength. We must have domestic support to be able to assert the truth. And the truth is, Greece satisfies all of the requirements for exiting the programme, for exiting the memorandum and the [supervision of the] troika and embarking on a new era of seriousness and responsibility, functioning harmoniously together with the other European countries, but on an equal footing", the foreign minister noted.

    Venizelos elaborated on his previous statement, saying that our partners' reluctance to leave Greece without a memorandum and strict monitoring - even though Greece "after five years of sacrifices" could now show a primary surplus, positive growth rates, a strong banking system - was obviously to do with a profoundly political reason. "When there is an opposition which suggests things that can lead to derailment of Greece - not of Europe - and to the loss of our achievements within a few days, it is reasonable for them to have reservations and a hardened stance," he added.


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