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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-09-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece pledges aid for poorer pensioners

  • [01] Greece pledges aid for poorer pensioners

    Greece will take concrete measures under the budget for 2006 to aid people on low pensions, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said at the weekend.

    "The government will see to improvement of the level of more vulnerable social groups, as it did last year," Alogoskoufis told a news conference Saturday on the sidelines of an annual general meeting in the US capital of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

    In 2005, rises on farmers' pensions and a supplementary allowance for poorer retirees were double the inflation rate.

    The minister said that the purpose of contacts he made during his four-day visit to Washington was to publicise Greece as a gateway to investment in southeastern Europe.

    "There was great interest in investment in the area. Greece is a centre for the wider region, in which Greek investment has topped 8.0 billion euros," he added.

    Asked to comment on the country's status among international credit rating agencies, Alogoskoufis said: "Despite a downward revision for Greece, the cost of borrowing for the public sector is the lowest that has been attained, historically."

    Accompanying Alogoskoufis, Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas said the global ratings agencies are aware of a major improvement in Greece's finances, reflected in a drastic reduction of the fiscal debt.

    "They believe we must continue our endeavour at the same pace so that we cross the road, and do not remain in the middle of the road, so to speak" Doukas said.

    Central bank governor Nikos Garganas announced that measures would be taken to curb credit expansion in loans to households.

    The high rate of increase in borrowing was disquieting in terms of the ability of households to service mortgages and consumer loans, the governor of the Bank of Greece said.

    The central bank had asked commercial banks to tighten eligibility requirements for loans, including closer controls on the proportion of monthly salaries that would be needed for repayments by potential borrowers.

    Authorities would also institute tight controls on the banks themselves, including branch loan-issue front desks, to ensure that customers were properly vetted and evaluated for borrowing, Garganas noted.

    Finally, the Bank of Greece would commission ICAP, a market research organisation, to conduct a fresh survy on the endebtedness of households in relation to income.

    "What we wish to ascertain from households that receive loans is which ones show higher risk of an inability to meet repayments in the future," the central bank governor said.

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