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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-20

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] IMF urges reforms to pensions, social security system
  • [02] Papandreou: 'No discounts' in Turkey's EU accession talks

  • [01] IMF urges reforms to pensions, social security system

    An International Monetary Fund delegation to Greece on Friday urged reforms in the pension and social security systems before the year 2012 to avoid any serious consequences for the country's public finances.

    The IMF delegation, in an official visit to Athens to discuss the country's economic condition and outlook with government ministers, bankers and trade unions, also urged changes in the labour market. Speaking to reporters during a news conference, the delegation underlined the need for changes in the social security system, while Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said a dialogue was currently underway on the issue.

    IMF, in a draft report for the Greek economy, said the economic performance was very good and predicted strong economic growth rates next year as well. They cited, however, certain risks such as a high current account deficit. The international organisation said wages have risen significantly over the last few years, further burdening the economy, while credit expansion continued growing -although it remained lower compared with other developed economies- but risks could emerge for the banking system if high economic growth were not sustained.

    Richard Ford, the head of IMF's delegation, welcomed the successful efforts made to reduce the country's fiscal deficit but said the job was not completed since the country must present a surplus budget by 2012.

    Commenting on the social security system, Ford said spending was expected to rise over the years and solutions should be found and structural reforms in the labour market were needed to ease the pressure on the country's current account balance.

    Solutions offered by other member-states vary, with retirement ages rising, or higher pension payments offered to persuade workers to remain longer at work. Other solutions include reducing social benefits, or a mixture of initiatives. The IMF delegation stressed that the longer it took to introduce the necessary solutions to the problem, the worse the conditions would be for the country.

    The Greek minister, speaking to reporters, said the government would have to present surplus budgets by 2012 and that fiscal adjustment should equal 0.50 percent of Gross Domestic Product annually.

    Alogoskoufis also said efforts were made to expand the tax base in the country and stressed that tax-evasion was a big problem.

    Mr Ford said that GDP revisions should be made every five years and stressed that in other countries the Statistics Services were independent bodies.

    [02] Papandreou: 'No discounts' in Turkey's EU accession talks

    HELSINKI (ANA-MPA - V. Patouchas) The accession negotiations now underway with Turkey should on no account lead to "discounts" in European values and standards, Greece's main opposition leader George Papandreou stressed during statements made in Finland on Friday.

    Emerging from talks with the Finnish presidency of the EU, the head of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) said his message was directed equally to all sides, including the Greek government. The Finnish EU presidency is currently preparing to present a proposal that it hopes will overcome the EU-Turkey deadlock over the Ankara Agreement, which is blocking Turkey's accession progress, and persuade Ankara to open its ports and airports to Cyprus.

    Papandreou is continuing contacts in Helsinki, which will also take in the Cypriot and Turkish sides, in what he says is a bid to protect the interests of Cyprus and Greece in view of the Finnish proposals.

    PASOK's leader had a meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Friday morning, while a week earlier he held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    "I will continue these efforts with the aim of making Turkey respect its obligations toward a member-state of the European Union, the Cyprus Republic," Papandreou told reporters after his meeting with Finland's Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja.


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