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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 08-09-06

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] One-Way for Reforms
  • [02] Marches in Thessaloniki
  • [03] Opening for Beijing Paralympic Games
  • [04] Karamanlis' Speech in Vellideio

  • [01] Speech to the Productive Groups in Vellideio

    One-Way for Reforms

    06 Σεπ 2008 19:40:00

    Sources: Athens News Agency

    Mr. Karamanlis proceeded to a report of the governmental work and also referred on the effects of the National Crisis in our country. The Prime Minister stressed that we have to support all those who are mostly in need and to preserve the developmental impetus. The financial and social benefit is confirmed during the most difficult times. The gains for the future of the country are very significant," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said during the traditional Prime Ministers speech on government policy to the countrys producer classes in Thessaloniki on Saturday.

    The Prime Minister announced the three main axes of the financial policy of the government. preservance of fiscal consolidation sustainable development on the peak of Eurozone Net of social protection for vulnerable social groups

    The governments first priority is the continuation of fiscal consolidation so as deficits can be limited but also public debt to de escalate. The government targets at the restrain of expenses and the safeguard of further fiscal transparency.

    For this reason, special accounts will incorporate to the state budget, Social Funs, Hospitals, Organization of Local Administrations will form budgets and reports. A competent interministerial committee will be assigned and will conduct frequent controls.

    The Prime Minister said that reforms also ranked Greece in the third position on incoming investments and secured one of the highest growth rates in the Eurozone. They also offered social results, such as: a significant increase in employment, while unemployment falling below 7.0 pct in May. Per capita GDP rose to 98 pct of the EUs average, from 92 pct in 2003, real wages grew an annual average 3.0 pct, compared with 0.3 pct in the Eurozone, pensions also rose, while families with three children were offered more financial support.

    A pension reform program also ensures the viability of the system, by drastically combatting accumulated disparities, he said.

    "Nothing of all these was easy. In every case we needed to combat with vested interests and conservative views. We dare to give difficult battles. Battles that offer gains to all citizens," Karamanlis said.

    Social protection

    The government also seeks to build a viable social state, boosting employment and continuing a battle against price increases. It is very important the fact that a gap in the inflation rate with the Eurozones average has been cut. But the domestic market still faced chronic problems, suffering from unfair practices and an inefficient competition in certain sectors. Karamanlis said the government was in a head-to-head clash with speculative practices.

    "Our policy is reducing unemployment, supporting new enterprises, investments, new job positions," Karamanlis said, noting the significance of a viable social insurance system.

    Economic policy

    The Greek economy has, still, serious problems from chronic weaknesses, but also has significant capabilities. "I know the road ahead is difficult. I move forward, taking any cost is necessary. I am determined to continue by intensifying reforms. This is my decision," Karamanlis vowed.

    The Greek PM said the main axes of economic policy will remain unchanged: sustainable fiscal consolidation, viable growth at the peak of Eurozone, social protection net for those in need. "Our first priority is continuing a fiscal consolidation program to eliminate deficits," he said. Karamanlis said a package of measures, recently announced by the government, was aimed at ensuring that state spending was contained and fiscal transparency was promoted further.

    Another priority was to find solutions both for Olympic Airlines and Hellenic Railways Organisation, two state-owned organisations that burdened taxpayers with around 2.7 million euros per day.

    Our aim with Olympic Airlines is to promote a new strong and competitive airline company, under the same name and logo, but withough the debts and problems currently facing with the European Commission. Our goal is clear: transfer of personnel to other state agencies and a voluntary retirement plan, ensuring air connection with all our islands and prohibiting any private monopoly in the airline business.

    We also plan the corporate transformation of Hellenic Railways, envisaging modern financial methods to manage its debt, joint ventures with the private sector to fully exploit its real estate property, austere controls in management practices and a voluntary retirement plan.

    The Greek PM also said the government was working hard to achieve a more fair tax system and to combatting tax evasion. "Tax evasion is a deeply anti-social behaviour. We all must work together to combat it," Karamanlis said.

    The international crisis

    "A year ago, by highlighting the economy as a national affair, I asked for early election. Citizens gave us a new, strong mandate. I was, and still am, fully focused on our commitments. We continue, consistently, the necessary reforms. But we face a difficult international conjucture, as the world has entered an uncertain, turbulent period. A credit crisis in the United States, increasing demand and international speculative "games" led to an explosion in international oil prices, food prices and commodity prices. As a result, economic growth rates are slowing down, economic activity falls and price increases become a major social issue.

    The Prime Minister noted he has made a harsh self-criticism for any government delays, but reassured he is determined to move forward with the necessary changes.

    Education and Public Administration

    Karamanlis noted that a reform in education has opened the roard to upgrading public universities, putting an order in a chaotic situation with free education centers, opening an International University in Thessaloniki and beginning a national dialogue on a new entry system to universities.

    As the Prime Minister said dysfunctions occur in the Public Sector. The hardest battles involve: extravagances, bureaucracy, corruption in public services, established practices regarding incomes and delays in investments. Targeted reforms will be developed in all levels and the whole public sector, he pointed out.

    Karamanlis also said that local authorities would be strengthened through the implementation of a "Theseas" program, the transfer of 90 pct of revenues from vehicle circulation stamp to municipalities and rescheduling of withheld funds return, totaling 1.7 billion euros.

    Regional Development

    As far as Regional Development is concerned Greece follows a course plan aimed at exploiting its geopolitical advantages, boosting outgoint trends and improving its attractiveness. The country has a better prospect ahead of it, the PM said, noting that the country was a pole of stability and growth in Southeastern Europe, a modern energy, transit, commercial and banking hub in the wider region with updated infrastructures.

    He also noted that a National Reference Strategic Framework, for the period 2007-2013, envisages that 82 pct of funds would be directed to regional programs with a series of major road projects, worth more than 9.5 billion euros, promoting joint ventures between public and state enterprises, worth 5.7 billion euros and approving investment projects worth more than 10 billion euros. The Premier said the government has earmarked around one billion euros for interventions in fire-hit regions of the country, supporting farmers and investing in quality tourism.

    Foreign Policy

    Karamanlis also noted that Greece was working towards a full normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations. "We welcome a restart of negotations in Cyprus and urge Ankara to encourage the Turk-Cypriot leadership to seek a functional, democratic and European solution for a united Cyprus without any occupation troops," the Greek PM said.

    Improving growth environment

    Our policy focuses on ensuring high growth rates to increase wealth, boosting social dividend and creating new jobs. We seek to attract large investments and to supporting business activity by ensuring environmental protection, he said, adding that the government has taken a series of major steps to protecting the environment, such as a National Land Register. The government was also taking measures to minimize procedures and costs of setting up new enterprises, in line with European standards. In energy policy, we are implementing a long-term plan to save energy, promoting alternative energy sources and expanding natural gas networks.

    [02] Marches in Thessaloniki

    06 Σεπ 2008 20:57:00

    Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ 105.8

    Trade unions expressed their disappointment for the new measures in taxation in working environment exoensiveness with marches stages at Thessaloniki city center. GSEE and ADEDY unions and non governmental organizations marched to Xanth square next to Vellideio Conference Center. Small incidents between PAME and the class-oriented trade-unions were reported.

    Translated by Sofia Gartziou

    [03] Opening for Beijing Paralympic Games

    06 Σεπ 2008 20:30:00

    In the packed 91,000-seat National Stadium, on a muggy, sweat-inducing night, the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Paralympic Games began with a thunderous fireworks display over the open air roof of the stadium, which is more commonly known as the Birds Nest for its massive steel lattice exterior.

    The 50-minute performance included the impeccably co-ordinated dance and theatrical movements that have become such a traditional part of opening ceremonies. But it also included a blind singer, a blind pianist playing his own composition, 300 white-dress-clad deaf girls doing a sign language dance, and 12-year-old ballet student Li Yue, who lost her left leg in the Sichuan earthquake earlier this year, but who "never gives up her pursuit of dreams."

    Liu Qi, president of the Beijing organizing committee, told the crowd that the Games "educate people to the power of love, and encourage people to devote more understanding, respect and support to people with a disability."

    [04] Basic Axons of the Governmental Work

    Karamanlis' Speech in Vellideio

    06 Σεπ 2008 20:21:00

    By

    Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ 105.8

    The Prime Minister is now presenting the main axons of his financial policy, delivering a speech in the productive classes in Vellideio Conference Center. According to information, he will remain stable regarding the reforms the government plans and will also refer to big works that are in progress mainly North Greece and to the whole country. Mr. Karamanlis will make clear that he will not put in mortgage the prospective of our country in order to serve a temporary governmental popularity, and underlined that the country will overcome the crisis and that the day tomorrow will be a better day for everyone. In the morning, Mr. Karamanlis officially inaugurated the 73rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and then toured the pavilions and exhibition site after a blessing service.

    Translated by Sofia Gartziou


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