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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 01-04-20
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
NEWS IN ENGLISH ERA-5. THE VOICE OF GREECE
20/4/2001 2:07:00 μμ
 Proposals for reforms in the social security systemPrime-minister Kostas Simitis yesterday presented the main outline of the government's proposals on reforms in the social security system on the basis of which the government has planned to hold a social dialogue.
Mr. Simitis stated that there would be enough time for the dialogue and that all proposals would be taken into account. He also stressed that transition to the new system would be smooth, gradual and socially just.
Following a marathon meeting of the cabinet and the PASOK Executive Office on Thursday, the Prime-minister stressed that the social security system would not be privatized while he also reassured of the maintenance of the trilateral funding and the present percentage in social security contributions. He also left open the possibility of extending the social dialogue beyond the two months period initially announced.
Both the Prime-minister Simitis and Labor Minister Tasos Yannitsis stressed that there would be no changes for those who are already receiving pensions and those who have already established pension rights, clarifying that the new social security age limits would be gradually re-adjusted starting in 2006. After this date, pensions will be gradually reduced to 60% of the average salary the workers were receiving in the last ten years. Furthermore, those who have worked for 40 years will be eligible to a pension, regardless of the age limit.
Prime-minister Simitis is scheduled to meet today with the President of the Republic Konstantinos Stefanopoulos to brief him on the government's positions regarding reforms in the social security. This meeting is considered of special importance, as President Stefanopoulos had expressed special interest for the issue and had referred to reforms in the social security system in his recent address at the conference of the General Confederation of Greek workers.
Opposition parties overwhelmingly condemned the government's proposals on the issue.
The New Democracy (ND) party spoke of vague and fragmentary proposals described as reforms and accused the government of distorting reality.
The Greek Communist party, the Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress and the Democratic Social Movement spoke of heartlessness, while the Liberals and the newly-founded Free Citizens Movement also reacted to the proposals.
Meanwhile, the Civil Servants Union has threatened to abstain from the social dialogue, while the General Confederation of Greek Workers is planning strike actions for April 26.
In addition, the Union of journalists issued an announcement calling the proposals "a heavy blow" to the Greek people social and pension rights.
 Inflation dropped to 3.2% in MarchNational Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou today will fly to Malmoe Sweden to attend the informal ECOFIN meeting.
In the meantime inflation in Greece dropped to 3.2% in March compared to 3.5% in February, according to Eurostat's monthly report while for the same period inflation in the euro zone remained unchanged at 2.6%. It should be noted that last March inflation rate in the euro zone was at 2.1%.
National Economy minister met with Prime-minister Simitis on Thursday. Their talks focused on the course of the Greek economy and the raising of funds to finance the social policy.
In his statements after the meeting Mr. Papantoniou ruled out the imposition of new taxes to raise funds to cover preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games, the social security system and social policy in general.
 Meeting of Defense Minister with Prime-minister SimitisToday's meeting of Prime-minister Simitis with National Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos - who did not attend Thursday's cabinet meeting due to his trip to France - is expected with high interest.
Their talks will focus on the recent decision for cutbacks in defense spending and reallocation of funds to subsidise social policy programs.
 Creation of a European military forceNational Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos paid an official visit to Paris at the invitation of his French counterpart Allain Richard.
Mr Tsochatzopoulos stated that one of the issues he discussed with Mr Richard, was the creation of a European military force. Both France and Greece agreed that the European military force should be ready by 2003.
Meanwhile, the competent European Union Commissioner reassured the Greek national defense minister that Cyprus would be the next country to become a member of the European family.
 Last details for Pope John Paul visit to AthensA meeting of representatives from the Vatican and the Greek Orthodox Church took place on Thursday at the Athens office of the Greek Archbishop. During the meeting they discussed final details concerning Pope John Paul's visit to Greece on May 4.
However, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece declined an invitation from the Pope to join him for a personal discussion over dinner , due to various reactions on the issue.
 Athens stock marketOn the Athens stock exchange, the general share price index dropped by 0.91% on Thursday, to close at 3,285.96 points.
 Olympic Airways fares higherOlympic Airways fares for domestic flights will increase up to 12%, as from Saturday April, 21. The increase was mandatory due to higher taxes and duties at the new airport.
 Dinos Illiopoulos health in critical conditionThe health of renowned Greek actor Dinos Iliopoulos who is in hospital at the intensive care unit, is in a critical condition, according to a late medical bulletin.
 Athens tram back before the 2004 OlympicsAccording to an article in today's issue of the daily newspaper "Ta Nea" the Athes tram will return to the roads of Athens shortly prior to the 2004 Olympic Games to connect the city center with the southern suburbs and the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
The same article says that the project has entered into the first stage for its materialization with the publication of the proclamation for the purchase of the first 35 wagons amounting to 26 billion drs.
 Dionisiou Aeropagitou street soon opens to pedestriansWithin the next few days, Dionisiou Aeropagitou Street will open to pedestrians. This is the first joint project of the Enviroment and Culture Ministries within the framework of unification of the archaeological sites around the Acropolis.
 Whale in ToloThe inhabitants of Tolo, in Argolida have the opportunity to enjoy a rare species of whale which has lost its orientation. Members of ecological organizations are trying to lead the whale to the open sea to find its way.
 New red soil rainMeteorologists have forecast a new wave of red soil rain transferred from North Africa due to the strong southerly winds.
 Weather forecastScattered cloud and strong southerly winds is forecast for today. In Attica the temperature will range from 12 to 27 degrees centigrade, in Thessaloniki from 9 to 23 and in the rest of the country from 10 to 28 degrees.