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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-13

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Possible to have deal with institutions by March 25, says FinMin official
  • [02] UN human rights chief praises Greece for efforts to manage refugee crisis
  • [03] Patras carnival ends with revelers dancing in the rain

  • [01] Possible to have deal with institutions by March 25, says FinMin official

    It is possible to achieve an agreement with Greece's creditors on the country's first program review by March 25, a finance ministry official said on Sunday, following a meeting between the government's economic team and the heads of the institutions.

    According to the official, the two sides have the same target on the revenues expected from reforms in taxation, but disagree on the details. Greece submitted a counterproposal to the creditors' request to lower the indirect tax-free threshold from 9,545 euros to 7,000 euros, which is being examined by technical teams. "We don't want to lower the tax-free threshold, but if it is lowered by 100-200 euros it will be a success," the official said.

    At the same time, the government wants to increase taxes for incomes of around 30,000 euros, while the institutions want to lower it, while the self-employed will be included in the tax scales of the employees and pensioners, but without a tax-free threshold. The government is hoping to avoid taxing farmers with 20 pct tax rates for 2016 and 26 pct for 2017.

    Incomes from rents will be taxed according to the agreement signed in August which foresees an increase to 15 pct from 11 pct for incomes up to 12,000 and to 35 pct from 33 pct for over 12,000 euros. The government has proposed a tax rate of 40 pct for incomes over 45,000euros. There will also be a separate tax rate for the solidarity tax which will reach a maximum of 10 pct.

    Concerning the fiscal gap, the European Commission and the IMF have set an indicative target, although they still disagree on the issue. Greece believes that, apart from the social security and tax reforms, the undecided measures for the period up to 2018 total less than 1 pct of GDP. The two sides also disagree on the macroeconomic scenario, the official said.

    [02] UN human rights chief praises Greece for efforts to manage refugee crisis

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, hailed Greece's efforts to manage the refugee crisis in the organization's annual report, while also expressing concern for the effects of closed borders on the wellbeing of refugees.

    "I acknowledge the generosity with which Germany welcomed around a million people last year, and the efforts of Greece, throughout 2015, to take a humane approach, avoiding detention and pushbacks at sea," Price Al-Hussein said in a speech before the Human Rights Council's 31st session.

    According to diplomatic sources, this statement is significant ahead of the EU summit on March 17-18, which will finalize decisions on EU's migration policy and is the result of actions taken by the foreign ministry and in particular the meeting between the UN human rights chief and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis on March in Geneva.

    "Meanwhile, the situation in Greece is dramatic. Migrants are now unable to leave the country because of border restrictions imposed by Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," Prince Al-Hussein said.

    "This lamentable approach, together with other measures taken by countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, creates great distress for large numbers of people and compounds pressure on Greece, a country that is already in need of help. Greece has struggled for months to maintain humane conditions of reception for the desperate people who arrive by sea. I pay tribute to the honourable volunteers and activists who are trying to help them," he added.

    [03] Patras carnival ends with revelers dancing in the rain

    Over 30,000 carnival revelers ignored the continuous rain and joined the main parade on Sunday which closed this year's Patras Carnival. The big parade started at 14.00 and concluded shortly before 19.00 and follows yesterday's smaller night parade of revelers who danced and sung in the streets.

    King Carnival, traditionally a grand, spectacular and satiric figure which opens the parade, was wearing a top hat, smoking a cigar and holding Greece's three bailout deals in his two hands.

    Numerous floats followed behind with themes inspired among others by the ongoing economic crisis, such as the "Political cohabitation agreement" float, which consists of two figures representing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem sitting relaxed on a couch.

    The Carnival climaxed with the traditional burning of King Carnival at the old port, which was accompanied by a fireworks display. Celebrations will continue with a two-hour concert by the band Passepartout and four-member Greek band Alcatrash.


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