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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-05-02
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Eurogroup Meets in BrusselsSunday, 02 May 2010 17:05
Eurogroup meeting is currently underway in Brussels to conclude a deal on a full rescue package for debt-ridden Greece. The three-year aid to be given to Greece is expected to range between 100 and 120 billion euros. The European Commission called for the activation of the support mechanism for Greece, said the European Commission head.
The Finance Ministers of the eurozone nations are expected to give thumbs up for the deal on a bailout package for Greece, with the latter implementing a package of austerity measures, said EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn.
Talking to reporters, Rehn appeared certain that the eurozone members will approve the bailout package and urged them to activate the support mechanism.
He also hailed the new package of measures announced Sunday by Athens as complete and ambitious.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
News item: 36140
 Opposition Parties and Unions React to New Austerity MeasuresSunday, 02 May 2010 15:31
The release of the new austerity measures triggered the fierce reaction of the opposition parties and the trade unions. Main opposition New Democracy President Antonis Samaras dismissed the new measures as a "Waterloo of the government's predictions and policies," blasting the government for either having told lies so far or having lost control or both. Antonis Samaras noted, "We are in even greater danger by a medicine that has already failed, by the excessive dose of the medicine, than the disease itself. Commenting on the new austerity measures, the ND head stressed, "There is no real spending cuts, but wage cuts, tax increases. There are no measures capable of boosting competitiveness. There is only a cut in pension. There is no privatization plan and there are no prospects of making the best of the public sector's assets."
A. Papariga Calls for Mass Reaction
"The time has come for the people to prove that they do not believe the government's lousy lies," underlined KKE head Aleka Papariga, further noting that Papandreou's claim, whereby the new measures won't extend to the private sector is a lie.
"They [the measures] will deliver a blow to both the public and the private sector, through the new labour relations, the pension system, the abolishment of the collective work negotiations," stressed the head of the Greek Communist Party.
"In a few months, they will change them and they will change them again. Unless the working takes action, the tragedy will be incalculable. We are optimistic. We can sweep them away," added she.
Alexis Tsipras Speaks of Recession
SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) Alexis Tsipras lashed out at the government which he branded it as panicked, striving to give legal status to the unconditional surrender of the Greek society to the wild intentions of the capital and the world markets.
Tsipras spoke of disastrous choices that will plunge Greece into a dark tunnel that will last for at lest two decades.
He also noted that the government presented the Greek economy's recession, the unemployment rise, the collapse of the small and medium-sized enterprises as a one-way. The above choices, he added co-shaped along with the IMF and the EU are not a one-way by any means.
Tsipras reiterated his call for a referendum so that the people can choose their future.
LAOS: Repeated Painful Ideas
The Popular Orthodox Rally spoke of repeated painful ideas, further stressing that without development, they symptoms will be much worse in the future.
"Mr Papandreou's repeated painful ideas equal to several aspirin but no antibiotics. They may ease the symptoms for the time being, but without development, the symptoms will be much worse in the future," commented LAOS spokesman A. Aivaliotis.
SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) President Alexis Tsipras called the people to draw their own "red lines."
Statement by PASOK's National Council Secretary
"We manage to avoid the worse, eve if the markets' aggressiveness and the EU slow response did not allow us to tackle the crisis on our own and reduce the burden weighing down the people of Greece," commented Socrates Xynides.
Reactions by Trade Unions
"The bankruptcy of the people's lives was announced today, while the society is ready to explode," argued the ADEDY head. His counterpart leading GSEE spoke of tough and anti-labour measures and heralded similar reactions by the employees.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
News item: 36136
 Greek FinMin Outlines New Austerity MeasuresSunday, 02 May 2010 12:14
Greece's Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou outlined the final agreement and the additional austerity measures agreed following the tough, as he called them, negotiations with the IMF and European experts. The measures, whose results are to be assessed every three months, aim to reduce the budget deficit to below 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2014, from the current 13.6 percent of GDP, Giorgos Papaconstantinou said. The Finance Minister announced deep spending cuts for civil servants and tax increases. He then made it clear that the new austerity measures will also be imposed on the parliamentarians and the Parliament's staff.
The new package of measures announced Sunday includes, inter alia:
* rise in VAT rates from 21% to 23%, from 10% to 11% and from 5% to 5.5%
* 10% hike on tobacco, alcohol and fuel taxes
* 10% hike on luxury taxes
* exceptional crisis levy profit-making enterprises
* rise in real estate objective value,
* taxation on buildings outside urban planning
Public Sector Wages
With regard to spending, the new austerity measures aim to cut public wages.
Therefore, the 13th and 14th wages will be readjusted as follows:
* 250 euros extra at Easter
* 250 euros extra for vacations
* 500 euros extra at Christmas
The above will be granted to wages that do not exceed 3000 euros per month.
Benefits given to civil servants will be further trimmed by 8%, while DEKO servants who are entitled to no benefits will see their monthly wages go further down by 3%.
Cuts in the 13th and 14th wages will not extend to the private sector as had been widely feared.
However, the new package of measures includes a rise in the redundancy threshold, compensation cuts. Overtime cost will also be trimmed.
Threshold on Private and Public Sector Pensions
* 200 euros extra at Easter
* 200 euros extra for vacations
* 400 euros extra at Christmas
Pensions given won't exceed 2,500 euros per month.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA
News item: 36135
 The Avoidance of Bankruptcy Is National Red LineSunday, 02 May 2010 10:51
The avoidance of bankruptcy is the national red line, underlined the Greek Prime Minister while chairing Sunday morning an inner cabinet meeting. George Papandreou touched on the tough battle the government fought against problems, whose magnitude was beyond belief. He then reconfirmed his commitment to serve the Greek people's interest. We [the Greek government] determined not to take a single step back," argued he, further predicted that at the end of his term, "Greece won't go bankrupt. It will be revived." He said that the new austerity measures announced apply to the civil servants and not to the private sector employees. The final content of the agreement and the new package of measures were announced by Finance Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou.
Pledged to Protect the Weak
"I am not interested in tenures. I am interested in doing the right thing" Greek PM G. Papandreou
The Greek Premier pledged to take any decision needed lest Greece go bankrupt and to protect the low-income earners as much as possible.
Shifting his attention to the political cost the austerity measures will incur to PASOK and him, he made it clear that he is not interested in tenures. What he is interested in is to have done the right thing when the time comes to leave his place to his successor.
Cuts Won't Be Extended to Private Sector
With regard to the tough negotiations with the IMF and European experts, George Papandreou underlined that cuts won't extend to the private sector. However, he claimed that new measures taken will affect the ailing, as he described it, public sector.
He maintained that the extent of the debt bequeathed by the ND administration was beyond belief. He added though, "It is not time to attribute responsibilities."
Papandreou outlined the three key priorities of the government work which aims to protect the weak, cement the rule of law which has been lost, and turn the current crisis into an opportunity for change.
He then went on to blame those in the EU who did not believe him when claiming it is not just a Greek crisis but a stability problem of the global fiscal system.
The Greek Prime Minister underlined that the activation of the support mechanism requires additional measures and great sacrifices. He expressed, though, his conviction that Greece will succeed in overcoming the crisis at the end of the three years and growing stronger so that it can promote the major reforms needed. News item: 36134
 Car Laden with Explosives Found in ManhattanSunday, 02 May 2010 09:36
The dark-colored sports utility vehicle which triggered the evacuation of Times Square on Saturday night was found to contain explosives, gasoline, propane and burned wires, a New York Fire Department officer told Reuters."
The officer, who did not give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said a man was seen fleeing the car and police had protectively evacuated several blocks around the popular tourist area in the center of Manhattan in case there were other devices.
The officer said law enforcement at the scene of the sports utility vehicle -- which was smoking and from which popping sounds were heard earlier -- were treating the vehicle as a "failed device."
News item: 36132
 Clashes Mar May Day Demonstrations in AthensSaturday, 01 May 2010 18:28
The demonstrations held in Athens to celebrate May Day were marred by clashes between police officers and rioters. Former House Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis came in for heavy criticism while walking in central Athens. House Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos denounced the attack on Kaklamanis.
Former House Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis was verbally attacked by a group of protesters who surrounded him started lashing out at him.
Policemen pushed the protesters away, while Kaklamanis requested he be transferred to a hospital due to the stress he suffered by the attack.
House Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos denounced the incident against Apostolos Kaklamanis. Petsalnikos had a phone contact with the latter.
"I denounce the attack against Apostolos Kaklamanis who has been serving the interests of the Greek people for decades" F. Petsalnikos
"Unacceptable actions of this kind spoil the May Day celebrations in such a critical period for Greece and the workers," commented Filippos Petsalnikos.
At the minor incidents reported in central Athens during the demonstrations, about 26 people were brought to the police headquarters for questioning. Fourteen of them were arrested.
News item: 36129