|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 08-12-02
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Flexibility under ConditionsThe EU Finance Ministers agreed to temporarily introduce greater flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact. The Barroso package to help EU markets rebound was okayed, yet the Finance Ministers said a resounding "no" to a VAT cut, arguing it would barely help to reverse recession. However, the eurozone nations still have different approaches on how to boost liquidity. Greece's Foreign Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis termed the European Commission â¬200bn stimulus plan as balanced, further adding it was the most appropriate answer to the crisis.
Alogoskoufis stressed that the Commission's proposal was the best possible answer to the financial crisis, as it lays out key guiding lines and suggests measures promoting financial liquidity, as well as reforms meaning make the EU economy more competitive.
The EU Finance Ministers blasted a cut in VAT, underlining it was not the best possible measure to combat the crisis, since it could not be certain that it would yield the desired results.
The Ecofin meeting also touched on the national bailout plans to improve the banks' liquidity.
The European Commission unveiled a new and more flexible framework to examine the liquidity plans that have not yet been given thumbs up.
Alogoskoufis also noted that boosting liquidity within the EU was necessary to finance small and medium-sized enterprises, families and major investments.
With regard to Greece, the Finance Minister underlined that the country had few margins to react to the crisis, due to it huge fiscal debt. He then went on to mention that the Greek government had already introduced initiatives aiming at assisting the low-income earners and boosting the nation's competitiveness.
Alogoskoufis said that, as part of the flexibility allowed by the Stability and Growth Pact, the EU member states would use their fiscal margins provided such a move is appropriate for their economies.
Asked whether Greece had the ability to take measures to combat the crisis, EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia reminded that Greece's fiscal deficit for 2007 had been revised above the 3-percent threshold. As for 2008, he estimated that the deficit would drop below the threshold dictated by the Stability and Growth Pact.
Reactions by Opposition Parties
The Greek opposition parties bitterly blasted the Ecofin decisions.
PASOK spokesman Giorgos Papakonstantinou stressed that Ecofin failed to live up to modern-day challenges, since it insisted on obsolete interpretations of the Stability Pact.
The European Socialist, on the contrary, noted Papakonstantinou, adopted a "manifesto" showing the way out of the crisis with an agreement creating 10,000,000 jobs.
Alekos Alavanos, head of SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) parliamentary group, criticized both the Stability Pact and the Lisbon Treaty. He stressed that they were not a lifejacket that save the world from the global recession, but the rock that sent everyone to the seabed.
Source: NET-NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
News item: 16211
 Lawmakers Testify on Vatopedi ScandalFormer Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis testified Tuesday morning before the inquiry committee investigating the Vatopedi scandal. Voulgarakis claimed he had not been involved in the case in his capacity as the Culture Ministry, because other ministries were responsible with the issue of land exchange. He further stressed he had not personal involvement in the case and that never had he visited Mt Athos, nor the Vatopedi Monastery. He also praised his wife's, notary Ekaterini Peleki, professional integrity. Conservative lawmakers Savvas Tsitourides, Alexandros Kontos, Kostas Kiltides, Antonis Bezas and Evangelos Basiakos have also been called to testify.
Source: NET, NET 105.8
News item: 16198