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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 02-02-13
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 NEWS IN ENGLISHTHE VOICE OF GREECE
13/2/2002 11:25:00 рм
 NEWS HEADLINES- New measures to be taken on Public Administration
- Papandreou-Cem agree to begin exploratory meetings
- EU Finance ministers approve Greek stability plan
- Meeting for collective employment contract
- Mobilisations with T.E.I
- Papoutsis PASOK's candidate in next mayoral race
 Weather forecastSunshine is forecast in all parts of the country, with mist likely in the morning. Winds west-northwesterly, light to moderate.
In the north, temperatures will range from 1C to 17C; in the rest of the mainland and Ionian from 3C to 19C; and in the Aegean from 7C to 18C. Sunshine in Athens, with temperatures between 7C and 19C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5C to 17C.
 New measures to be taken on Public AdministrationInterior Minister Costas Scandalides is holding a meeting today with the National Committee of Administration Reform to discuss a new packet of measures for Public Administration.
The issues to be discussed will be related to payments, hirings, evalutation of employees and measures for transparency aiming at the civilians' service.
 Papandreou-Cem agree to begin exploratory meetingsGreek Foreign Minister George Papandreou met his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on Tuesday on the sidelines of the European Union-Islamic Conference Organization joint forum taking place here.
The two men reasserted their willingness to begin exploratory contacts so as to find out if there is a framework for a wider dialogue.
Mr Papandreou stressed that "we should not be afraid (of such a dialogue) based on the fact that we are securing our sovereign rights".
The European framework is an important guarantee, he added, expressing the hope for a common rapprochement.
In these exploratory contacts Greece will be represented by the foreign ministry's civil director ambassador Alexandros Skopelitis, while Turkey's representative has not yet been named.
From his side, Mr Cem described their meeting as positive.
Meanwhile, Turkish-Cypriot representative Rauf Denktash reiterated provocatively that the refugees in Cyprus should forget their homeland.
 EU Finance ministers approve Greek stability planThe European Union's Finance ministers on Tuesday approved Greece's stability plan for 2001-2004, which was updated at the end of last year.
Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told reporters after a meeting with his 15 counterparts in the Belgian capital that despite the endorsement, Greece needed to continue lowering its public debt and allocate more funds to social policy.
In the text of the approval, which is called an opinion, the ministers also warn that vigilance should be maintained over price shifts, especially in the context of wage negotiations.
The stability plan forecasts inflation of 2.8 percent in 2004 from 2.7 percent in 2003 and 2.8 percent in 2002. Growth is set in both 2004 and 2003 at 4.0 percent from 3.8 percent in 2002.
In addition, the budget surplus is seen at 1.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2004, 1.0 percent of GDP in 2003, and 0.8 percent of GDP in 2002.
Furthermore, unemployment is forecast at 9.0 percent in 2004, 9.8 percent in 2003, and 10.5 percent in 2002; and the plan contains real wage rises of 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent.
Policy will be based on curbing consumerist spending in the public sector, completing a tax overhaul in the second half of 2002, and advancing privatisation that is expected to bring revenue of 1.7 trillion drachmas over the three-year period.
Finally, the plan contains a worst case scenario to take adverse global conditions into account. The new computation envisages a rate of growth over the three year period that will be an average of 0.6 percentage point lower, and an average rise in real wages of 2.1 percent against 2.4 percent in the main scenario.
The ministers also said that Greece needed to speed up structural reforms in products, services, labour and pensions.
The government had pledged to begin talks with the social partners on social insurance reform at the end of March, Christodoulakis said
 Meeting for collective employment contractThe employers and employees' representatives decided to meet on February 21 following their first meeting on Tuesday. During their next meeting, they will discuss about the new collective employment contract.
From its side, the Confederation of Greek Workers is demanding a 6.7% rise on lowest salaries and wages and the decrease of working time less than 40 hours per week.
According to information its seems that the two sides are willing to agree on pay rises of about 5%.
 Mobilisations with T.E.ITechnological Institute (T.E.I) Professors have decided to abstain from their duties, while students are also threatening with mobilisations.
The issue is expected to be discussed today between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Minister of Education Petros Efthymiou.
 Papoutsis PASOK' s candidate in next mayoral raceFormer European Commissioner and current Athens-area deputy Christos Papoutsis will be ruling PASOKs candidate for the upcoming mayoral race in Athens, the party announced on Monday.
In making the announcement, PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis added that the until recently Merchant Marine minister will be received by Prime Minister Costas Simitis at his office on Tuesday, whereas he voiced his complete disagreement with certain assessments claiming the mayoral race will undoubtedly tilt to main opposition New Democracys side if Dora Bakoyianni decides to enter.
No election battle is lost from the on-set, Laliotis said, adding that anyone that underestimates Athenian voters' power will be surprised by the election results.
Meanwhile, in terms of a possible Bakoyianni candidacy, the high-profile deputy and former minister will reportedly meet this week with ND leader Costas Karamanlis.
While press speculation over the past few months has repeatedly cast Bakoyianni as ND' s candidate in Athens, no official announcement has been made, either by the main opposition party or the one-time minister.