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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-11-29

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Bill on DEKOs Adopted
  • [02] Heavy Charges
  • [03] Burglary With Two Casualties in Peania
  • [04] Focusing on Reforms
  • [05] Media Bill Submitted to Parliament
  • [06] Merkel Pleas for German Hostage
  • [07] CIA Secret Prisons?
  • [08] OECD on Greek Economy
  • [09] Heavy Penalty for AEK
  • [10] Council Tax Reduced

  • [01] Changes in DEKOs Bill on DEKOs Adopted

    29 Nov 2005 15:36:00 (Last updated: 29 Nov 2005 21:57:24)

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: NET-ANA

    The Government Committee presided by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis approved the Bill on winding-up Public Utilities and Enterprises (DEKOs). The Bill also provides for changes in the labour regime, as well as the operation of DEKOs, which will be operating based on private economic criteria. Earlier, in his address about the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of the Political Research and Communication Centre at Zappeion, Mr Karamanlis referred to the new draft law, claiming that it improves the Public Sector, boosts transparency and benefits both the Economy and the citizens, without posing a threat to the provisions of the labour law and ASEP (Supreme Council for Personnel Selection). "The government is determined to proceed with the reforms," added the PM. The Ministers who attended the meeting spoke of a Bill that will make the difference. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis underlined that the new laws curb public spending. The new Bill, inter allia, calls for DEKOs hirings via ASEP, gradual adjustment of the labour relations to those applied in the private sector, and finally, it allows the relevant authorities to monitor DEKOs.

    New Provisions

    "DEKOs will hence operate following procedures that guarantee respect to taxpayers' money and offering services that respond to the needs of society." These were the words that Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis used to open the presentation of the new Bill.

    In particular:

    DEKOs admitted in the Athens Stock Exchange are excluded from the provisions of the wider Public Sector, except for the provisions regarding ASEP hirings, which apply for all DEKOs given the Public Sector has the majority of the share capital (51%).

    DEKO supervision by competent bodies is increased for the most effective application of purgation and operation programmes. A DEKOs Biministerial Committee will be established with the participation of Economy Minister (President), Development, Employment and Transport Ministers to monitor their loan and price policy. What is more, independent auditors will be appointed to perform internal audits.

    The permanent working status is lifted in all DEKOs and the adjustment regards employees that would be hired from now on, without harming the labour relations of those who are already working in DEKOs. The new contracts will be drawn up based on the provisions of Labour Law, while all newly hired personnel will first sign a labour contract for a test period of 7 months.

    The number of Board members in DEKOs cannot exceed nine, while the powers of the President and the Managing Director are fully designated. What is more, there is a limit in the salaries of the President, the Managing Director and the Board Members.

    All DEKOs will have to adjust to the provisions of the law by the end of the first semester of 2006.

    New Criteria and Prospects

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos made it clear that even companies, in which the public sector does not enjoy a 100% majority in the board of directors, can request ASEPs help to conduct hirings.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas added that it is one of the most pivotal reform implemented in the public sector and clears the way for the winding-up of DEKO.

    Transport Minister Michael Liapis underscored that DEKO enter a new era that will help them offer improved services and curb the public spending. He also pointed out that DEKOs operation will be built on private economic criteria and that they will be under the constant scrutiny of the Interdepartmental Committee.

    Employment Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos highlighted the importance of the reform and described the permanent working status as outmoded and medieval, since it offends those working in the private sector. He went on to clarify that nothing is to change for those who have been working in DEKO and underscored that ASEP is to supervise the hirings from now on.

    Economy Minister Giorgos Alogosjoufis is giving a press conference to further explain the changes in DEKO.

    Reaction by the Opposition

    Opposition parties harshly criticised the Government on the Bill for DEKOs.

    "Whenever the Government speaks of reforms, it means decisions that affect employees, their salaries and their labour relations," noted PASOK spokesperson Nikos Athanasakis.

    In his statement, SYN President Alekos Alavanos spoke of "war against the state property and against the youth, which is condemned to flexible working relations, to a new kind of contract workers and loses the ability to have steady labour relations in the Public Sector."

    "With the Bill on DEKOs, the ND Government is trying to complete privatisations and reverse the labour-social security status," said KKE in a relevant announcement.

    [02] Against Criminal Lawyer Sakis Kechagioglou Heavy Charges

    29 Nov 2005 21:26:00

    Criminal lawyer Sakis Kechagioglou, one of the most famous Greek lawyers implicated in the extra-judicial network, is charged with forming a gang and with bribery. According to NETs exclusive information, the brief reads that Kechagioglou, who will testify on Wednesday, was related to Iakovos Giosakis and Antonia Ilia, two of the key figures in the extra-judicial scandal. The charges against him could lead to his remand-in-custody. Resigned First Instance Court head Gerasimos Dionysatos was also brought before the examiners and received a deadline to testify on December 15, regarding his implication in Giosakis cases, which Antonia Ilia had handled. 3 major law firms are now under investigation by the Supreme Court and special examiners.

    Illegal Transactions

    Famous lawyer Sakis Kechagioglou, who is testifying before Appeals Examiners, is accused of having formed a gang with judges and lawyers, many of whom worked as a front for all his illegal transactions.

    "You formed, along with Georgios Nikolakopoulos, Nikolaos Emmanouilidis, Iakovos Giosakis, Antonia Ilia, Panagiota Tsevi and other individuals, which still remain unknown, a gang using various lawyers, who had nothing to do with the extra-judicial network and most of the times ignored your criminal plans to defend your customers, as a front to cover up your criminal activities," reads part of the brief.

    As per the charges, Mr Kechagioglou took from his customers 457,000 euros within a four-year period to bribe Antonia Ilia and former Public Prosecutor Nikos Athanasopoulos.

    Among the cases of which he is accused is that of Petros Lymberis, Giannis Kalamiotis and football player Alexis Alexandris, against whom Antonia Ilia had ruled to pay a 6,000-euro monthly alimony to his ex-wife. Sakis Kechagioglou was representing her.

    "Stamp Out of the Extra-Judicial Network"

    In Parliament, Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras proceeded with rewording article 3 in the Bill on Money Laundering, with which all parties agreed. Mr Papaligouras stressed the rewording "ensures the stamping out of the extra-judicial network," repeating that clean-up needs to be completed as soon as possible.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [03] Following a Chase Burglary With Two Casualties in Peania

    29 Nov 2005 16:33:00 (Last updated: 29 Nov 2005 18:38:41)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: ANA

    A gunman stormed in a National Bank branch on Tuesday, took an unspecified amount of money and tried to flee by car. A police car that was passing by chased the 55-year-old perpetrator of Albanian descent. During the chase, the two cars collided on Markopoulou Avenue and everyone on board the two vehicles got injured. The perpetrator died on the spot, while the injured policemen were transferred to the 401 General Army Hospital. One of the policemen succumbed to his wounds, while the second is being treated in a rather critical condition, suffering from fractures and internal bleeding.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [04] Special Reference to DEKO Focusing on Reforms

    29 Nov 2005 16:03:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA-NET

    In his address about the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of the Political Research and Communication Centre at Zappeion Mansion, Greek Premier Kostas Karamanlis reiterated his determination to continue the policy of radical changes and reforms. After making reference to past mistakes, he noted that bold and determination are what Greece needs. "A magic wand cannot bring about changes. It takes strategy," he argued, claiming that the citizens trust will lead to a better future.

    "Silencing the problems obstruct solutions, Greece is not going backwards," he mentioned and added that it takes a sense of responsibility and steady objectives to settle the problems.

    He then went on to reiterate that the government is on a continuous head-on collision with corruption. "We are leaving the past and its practices behind and we are moving on based on modesty and sincerity. We have embarked on a course leading to a better future for everyone," underlined Kostas Karamanlis.

    The PM made a special reference to the bill on the Public Utilities and Enterprises (DEKO), which was discussed on Tuesday during the meeting of the Government Committee. The bill, as he said, provides for the reorganisation of the public sector and allows the relevant authorities to monitor DEKO.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [05] Licences Expiring on 30/11 to be Extended Media Bill Submitted to Parliament

    29 Nov 2005 14:49:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ΝΕΤ

    Minister of State Thodoris Roussopoulos submitted to Parliament on Monday night the bill on Media. The bill provides for a one-year extension of Atticas radio stations licences expiring in late November. New TV and radio licences will have been issued by November 2006.

    The bill is also directed at the merger between the Athens News Agency (ANA) and the Macedonian Press Agency MPA). It also calls for the setting-up of the National Audiovisual Archive, which will be operating as a national archive of audiovisual and digital material.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [06] Merkel Pleas for German Hostage

    29 Nov 2005 13:06:00

    By Betty Savourdou

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel pled the kidnappers of a German woman and her driver to let them free. The German state-run television network ARD announced that it has received a video showing the kidnappers taking full responsibility and threatening to kill them unless Berlin breaks off its ties with the Iraqi government. ARD also released a footage presenting a man and a woman on their knees surrounded by three gunmen.

    She Has Been Living in Iraq for 10 Years

    The German Media reported that archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, 43, has been living in Iraq for ten years, has converted to Islam and is fluent in Arabic.

    A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry announced that Germany has proceeded with all actions necessary to guarantee her safe return.

    If the case is confirmed, then it is going to be the first kidnap ever of a German citizen in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was ousted and the fifth of a westerner in the last twenty-four hours.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: German woman 'kidnapped in Iraq'

    ARD: Deutsche Archaologin im Irak entfuhrt

    [07] CIA Secret Prisons?

    29 Nov 2005 11:47:00

    Sources: NET, ANA

    EU Commissioner of Justice Franco Frattini warned EU Member-States that their voting rights will be suspended if it is found out that they hosted secret CIA prisons. The US did not confirm or deny the relevant accusations, which were broadcast by US Mass Media a few days ago, however, they stated that they will answer once their investigations are over. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in her tour in Europe, will be faced with the thorny issue of the CIAs secret activities, but also about information over a possible torture of prisoners. The head of American diplomacy will visit Germany, Romania, the Ukraine and Belgium on December 5-9, as State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack announced.

    Secret Flights

    In the meantime, as per an article of a Canadian newspaper, American aircrafts used by the CIA to transport Islamic prisoners have made 55 stops in Canada the past four years.

    This issue overshadows the discussions held today in Washington by Condoleeza Rice and counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmayer

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [08] Forecasts on the Coming Two-Year Period OECD on Greek Economy

    29 Nov 2005 17:38:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA

    OECD report on the Greek economy for 2007 forecasts that the growth rates will remain high, the fiscal deficit will drop (not below the 3% limit set by the eurozone) and inflation will amount to 3%. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development underlined that the continuous fiscal adjustment requires decisive reforms on key sectors and greater control over primary expenditure. At the same time, the report praised the scheduled reforms on the Public Utilities and Enterprises (DEKO) and pinpointed that tax evasion should be eradicated.

    The OECD Report Forecasts:

    Fiscal Deficit 4.5% for 2005 3.2% for 2006 3.6% for 2007

    Growth Rate to 3.5% in 2005 to 3.3% in 2006 to 3.5% in 2007

    Regarding inflation (based on the harmonised consumer index), the report read that it is to remain above 3%. The 3.6% inflation in 2005 will drop to 3.4% in 2006 and it will further fall to 3% in 2007.

    Unemployment Rate 10.6% in 2005 10.5% in 2006 10.3% in 2007

    Greek exports are also predicted to rise by 7.8% this year, 8.2% in 2006 and 8.8% in 2007. It is forecast, however, that imports are also going to post a rise by 1.3% in 2005, 7.2% in 2006 and 7.1% in 2007.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [09] Heavy Penalty for AEK

    29 Nov 2005 19:18:00

    By Ilias Papaioannou

    The EPAE's (Hellenic Association of Football Clubs) competent body summoned AEK FC and Levadiakos FC on Friday at 09:30 to testify on the preposterous incidents during Sunday's match between Levadiakos and AEK in Livadia. As per the brief, AEK is expected to be punished with 2-4 matches behind closed doors, while Levadiakos is expected to receive a lighter penalty. Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, Ionikos and Atromitos have also been called to testify for minor incidents.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [10] Increases Below Inflation for 2006 Council Tax Reduced

    29 Nov 2005 17:54:00

    Sources: NET

    Following Mayor Dora Bakoyannis' proposal, the Athens Municipal Council adopted increases below inflation, as well as reduction up to 50% for families with 4+ children in council tax for 2006. In particular, cleaning and street lighting dues will reach 3.4% for households, 3.7% for businesses, while for communal spaces and other municipal dues the increase will reach 3.8%. In his relevant statement, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said the first municipality in Greece is sending out a message of self-restraint, as Mr Sioufas had underlined in the past the negative consequences of high council tax in businesses' competitiveness.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti


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