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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-27

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Government outlines new taxation measures
  • Opposition criticism
  • Main opposition N.D. leaders trade verbal blows
  • Turkish Premier balks at invitation to E.U. Dublin summit
  • Malta's decision not to pursue E.U. accession won't affect Cyprus
  • Mobilisations planned by Larisa-area farmers

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday evening announced new taxation measures and abolishment of several tax exemptions, saying the additional burden will be paid by "those who have and own".

    The government projects to earn 150 billion drachmas from the new taxes and collect a further 130 billion drachmas with the abolition of 206 tax exemptions.

    In terms of new taxes concerning large real estate holdings, the tax-free limit is 60 million drachmas in objective value, 60 million drachmas for the taxpayer's spouse as well and 15 million drachmas for each child. A tax percentage is applied to the r emaining value, which escalates from 0.3 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

    A 7.5 per cent tax will be imposed on new issues of bonds and treasury bills as of Jan. 1, 1997. Increased registration dues will be imposed on private vehicles, motorcycles and motorbikes of less than 785cc. In addition, a 20 per cent tax will apply to the excess value resulting from the transfer of shares not registered with the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Income tax concerning bank profits will increase from 35 per cent to 40 per cent, while the down payment for profits in the inter-bank market will increase from 50 per cent to 60 per cent.

    Foreign exchange deposits held by Greeks to be taxed

    Moreover, a 15 per cent tax will be imposed on exchange deposits, a 2/1000 tax on mutual fund assets and 15 per cent on the derivatives of fiscal products.

    The presumed expense for private cars will increase from between 30 per cent and 80 per cent and the age discount will be decreased and become minus 15 per cent from 20 per cent for vehicles between five-10-years-old, minus 25 per cent from 30 per cent for those between 10-15 years and minus 40 per cent from 50 per cent for those in excess of 15 years.

    The presumed expense for pleasure craft will increase from 32 per cent to up to 95.89 per cent and 50 per cent for aircraft.

    An exemption concerning maids or nannies employed by families having children aged up to 12 years will be abolished.

    Benefits to be abolished in the income tax sector are a discount in the expenditure concerning attorney fees, a 10 per cent reduction in the incomes of journalists and pensioned journalists, exemption of performance expenses received by prefects, mayors and community presidents (a 15 per cent tax will apply henceforth), exemption of special bonuses for dangerous occupation, exemption of a bonus for services rendered abroad (a 15 per cent tax will apply henceforth), exemption of special bonuses for tax officials, customs officials and other employees (a 15 per cent tax will apply henceforth) and a discount in insurance paid by enterprises for collective life insurance for their employees.

    The exemption enjoyed by deputies and Eurodeputies for the purchase of vehicles without paying a special consumption tax will be abolished.

    In addition, the exemption of performance expenses for cabinet members and the president of the republic will be abolished.

    Deposits in drachmas by permanent residents of Greece which can be converted into foreign exchange will be taxable, but non-permanent residents will be excluded from this clause. Lastly, fees paid to foreign artists will henceforth be subject to a 15 pe r cent tax.

    Opposition criticism

    Reacting to Mr. Papantoniou's announcements, main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert referred to a "government of taxes", promising a "head-on and uncompromising opposition."

    He also accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis of a "conscious and planned deception of the Greek people", and of "phenomenal political audacity," referring to his pre-election promises for no new taxes.

    Mr. Evert proposed indexation of a tax-scale for inflation, with a parallel trimming of what he called a "corrupt and rotten state", which "will allow the taxpayer to breathe and secure necessary funds for education and the exercise of social policy."


    Main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert and ND honorary leader Constantine Mitsotakis are apparently headed for a showdown at the party's political council meeting today, after the latter's statements in a television interview and magazine ar ticle that ND "has ceased functioning democratically to a great degree."

    Mr. Evert immediately responded to the former prime minister's remarks, criticising Mr. Mitsotakis of disorientating the Greek people and helping the ruling PASOK party to implement what he called its "tough new economic measures."


    Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan will not travel to the EU's Dublin summit in December if the 15-member Union does not invite him as "the prime minister of a candidate country for entry into the European Union," the Spanish News Agency (EFE) reported from Ankara yesterday.

    According to the Turkish labour minister, the Islamist prime minister will not participate in what he (Erbakan) reportedly referred to as a "social dinner".

    EFE reported that the Turkish prime minister stressed that "we reject this dishonour, and as an answer they (EU) can keep the Ecu500 million of aid they have promised us, but the prime minister will not go to a meeting of this kind."

    In a related issue, PASOK Eurodeputy and vice-president of the Socialist Group Yiannis Roubatis has asked to be informed by the Council of Ministers on how the Council reacts to such "insulting statements" by high-ranking Turkish officials.

    He also asked whether the Council intends to explain to the Turkish leadership that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated by the European Union and could lead to a greater deadlock in EU-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Roubatis also asked the Council why European citizens should pressure Turkey to accept aid which Ankara has said, through Mr. Erbakan's statements, it does not want.


    Malta's decision not to further pursue its application to join the European Union will not affect Cyprus' accession process, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said here yesterday.

    "Procedures leading to the accession of Cyprus into the EU are continuing unimpeded with the same speed, and are not affected by Malta's decision to freeze its application for entry," he said during a joint press conference with the island republic's Fo reign Minister Alecos Michaelides after an EU- Cyprus ministerial meeting.

    During the meeting, it was stressed that in view of its potential accession, Cyprus has already harmonised 40 per cent of its legislation with the 15- member Union, and hopes to reach 70 to 80 per cent until commencement of negotiations, scheduled six months after the end of the IGC.

    G.Papandreou: Greece opposes `flexibility clause` in revised EU Treaty

    Athens opposes the "principle of solidarity" by which European Union member- states will cooperate more-or-less closely on certain issues based on their potential, interests and specific aims, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou made clear yesterday at a Council of Ministers session focus ing on issues related to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

    Incorporation of the principle of flexibiliity in the revised Maastricht Treaty has been proposed by Bonn and Paris during the IGC.

    Mr. Papandreou told his counterparts that Greece opposes the adoption of a general "flexibility clause", as this could lead to a multi-tiered European Union.

    In addition, Mr. Papandreou proposed that the principle could be adopted in sectors agreed upon in advance and inorporated into a new Treaty only as a last resort, if the principle of unanimity cannot operate, if the acquis communautaire is not encroach ed upon, and if the aims of European unification are served. Countries which cannot participate from the start will have to be given support so that they may be able to join later.

    General staff chief to visit Bulgaria next week

    National Defence General Staff Chief Gen.Anastasios Tzoganis leaves for a two-day official visit to Bulgaria next Monday at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Gen. Totomirov, the Bulgarian defence ministry announced yeste rday.

    Gen. Tzoganis' schedule includes a meeting with the neighbouring country's parliamentary external affairs committee, and the signing of a bilateral military cooperation agreement for 1997.

    Consulate's lending library in Gjirokaster to open on Jan. 1

    The lending library of the Greek consulate here will be officialy opened on New Year's Day by Consul-General Nikolaos Kanellos.

    Speaking to the Athens News Agency, Mr. Kanellos said the library will hold material that will enable teaching staff at the Gjirokaster University to conduct historical and scientific research. The library will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday.

    Athens considering trade credits for Yugoslavia

    Greece is seriously considering extending credits to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in order to boost trade between the two countries, which totalled only $170 million in the first 10 months of 1996.

    The dispatch quoted the counsellor for economic and commercial affairs at the Greek embassy in Belgrade, Christos Farmakis, who addressed a meeting of Greek and Yugoslav businessmen.

    At present, he added, 150 Greek companies are cooperating with Yugoslavia, either directly or through joint ventures.

    Govt. going ahead with privatisations

    Labour and Social Security Undersecretary Christos Protopapas yesterday told Greek businessmen that "all of us should have the power to see the privatisations issue through."

    Addressing a conference on the "Hour of the Greek Economy," organised by the Hellenic-American Chamber, Mr. Protopapas said the government was proceeding with the privatisation of all public sector companies falling under the jurisdiction of the Busines s Restructuring Organisation.

    Referring to efforts to contain state intervention in the banking system, Mr. Protopapas said that only if the governments, the parties and the social forces agreed on certain principles and procedures, while bureacracy was lessened as well, could denationationalisation procedures come to fruition.

    Elaborating on the same issue, President of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) Jason Stratos said that denationalisation would free resources which can be channelled to the private sector thus encouraging development.

    SEB's president stressed the lack of signs for an expanded denationalisation in other sectors where the presence of the state is strongly-felt, such as the banking system, with the exception of smaller banks.

    Workers strike to protest new economic measures

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos yesterday warned of a wave of strikes organised to coincide with the parliamentary debate on the state budget for 1997 which should be held by the end of the week.

    "There is will for an escalation of labour action and I believe that there will be such an escalation," Mr. Polyzogopoulos told a press conference.

    A 24-hour general strike has already been organised for tomorrow in which all major trade union federations will be participating.

    Public utilities such as the Public Power Corporation (DEH), the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), the Athens and Piraeus Water Company (EYDAP) and the Greek Postal Service(ELTA) will be operating with skeleton staffs.

    The strike is expected to hit public transport in particular, with the national carrier Olympic Airways(OA) aircraft being grounded and considerable disruption to ferry-boat, train and bus services.


    Farmers in the Larisa region are launching mobilisations today that will culminate in blockades of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway tomorrow.

    The decision was taken following yesterday's sentencing of three farmers to one-year imprisonment for obstructing traffic during protests in February- March 1995.

    WEATHER

    Rainy and stormy weather throughout the country. Same for Athens where temperatures will range from 10-16C and in Thessaloniki from 6-11C. Snowfalls in the mountainous regions.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 237.713, Can. dlr.177.270, Australian dlr. 192.994, Pound sterling 397.990, Irish punt 398.050, Cyprus pd 516.634, French franc 46.003, Swiss franc 184.115 Belgian franc 7.571, German mark 156.012, Finnish mark 51.854, Dutch guilder 139.118, Danish Kr. 40.642, Swedish Kr. 35.696, Norwegian Kr. 36.962, Austrian Sh. 22.171, Italian lira (100) 15.738, Yen (100) 211.534, Spanish Peseta 1.855, Portuguese Escudo 1.548.

    (C.E.)


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