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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-03

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou: Farmers cheated by ND
  • [02] EU: Greece to exit excessive deficit procedure very soon
  • [03] Off-season fees cut in half at 5 island airports

  • [01] Papandreou: Farmers cheated by ND

    Greek farmers have by now discovered the "fine print" in ruling New Democracy's promises, while the government's rallying cry of "zero tolerance" for corruption has ended up being the country's shortest joke, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said on Thursday. He was speaking during an off-the-agenda debate on agricultural policy requested by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    In a broad allusion to revelations that Greek pension funds may have lost money by investing in high-risk structured bonds issued by the government, Papandreou said that Greece's unsuspecting farmers had been persuaded to "buy the bond called ND government" in the elections three years earlier by NDās promises to increase farming incomes.

    "They now know that the government of the Right has proved to be a high-risk bond with a low yield. They know they were cheated. They know that you fooled them," Papandreou asserted, adding that farmers were now worse off than before ND came to power.

    In a diatribe against the government's agricultural policy, he pointed out that the government had itself increased VAT by 1 percent, even as it professed to be fighting for a reduction of VAT in the framework of the EU, and that it had agreed to reopen talks on EU subsidies for farming in 2008 after guaranteeing that these would be non-negotiable until 2013.

    At the same time, it was leading the state agricultural insurance organisation ELGA to bankruptcy and using it as a party tool to benefit a minority of farmers, while 13 studies commissioned three years earlier on the repercussions of the new CAP had yet to materialise.

    "What do you know about the company 'Noisis'? Does it have any scientific links to the sector or is it linked with the families of government members," Papandreou continued.

    He further criticised the government for seeking a one billion euro reduction of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) budget and for its poor results in negotiations over cotton, tobacco and sugar - while pointing out that the prime minister had promised to undertake these personally.

    "If you return with results like these from negotiations at the EU, it would be better if you didnāt go at all," Papandreou added.

    Karamanlis covering up bonds issue, PASOK's leader claims

    The main opposition leader referred at length to the bonds issue, claiming that there was a cover-up that pointed to personal responsibilities by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    "In an issue that has shocked the country, you are hiding and hiding the truth," he accused the premier.

    According to Papandreou, the affair was not limited to just one bond but was centrally planned and the execution of this plan was centrally coordinated.

    "ND has no plan for Greece but it does have a plan to serve dark interests," he added.

    The government could not continue to claim that so many pension fund managements had simultaneously chosen to switch from investments in low-risk state bonds in order to buy the higher-risk bond products that "served this plan", Papandreou stressed. He repeated a demand that the losses incurred by pension funds be restored and the money be returned before the elections.

    Regarding investigations initiated into past fund transactions under PASOK governments, Papandreou said that this was an attempt to "hide the truth" and challenged the government to set up a Parliamentary investigative committee into "anything you want".

    He ended by giving a personal guarantee to carry out PASOK's programme:

    "We do not promise miracles but we will honour our commitments. I personally promise this," he underlined.

    SYN leader stresses bond issue, 'collapse' of rural regions

    The bonds issue also figured highly in the address made by Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos, who called for a Parliamentary investigative committee into the issue.

    He also criticised the prime minister for failing to appear in Parliament to answer questions on the bonds issue and asked that the money lost be returned to pension funds in full.

    On farming policy, Alavanos referred to the "collapse" of Greece's rural regions, saying that these had become a "huge pensioners' club" because the two main parties had implemented EU measures "in the worst possible way".

    He also called for urgent reforms in agricultural cooperatives, claiming that these were riddled with corruption and had become centres for collecting political "clientele".

    Caption: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou in Parliament on Thursday, May 3, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. MAROGIANNI.

    [02] EU: Greece to exit excessive deficit procedure very soon

    The probable go-ahead for Greece's exit from the excessive deficit procedure will be given next Monday when the European Commission publishes its report on EU member-state economies, EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia said on Thursday.

    Presenting the European Commission's report on the economic condition of the Eurozone, Almunia said countries with excessive fiscal deficits such as Germany, Portugal, Italy and Greece have achieved significant improvement in the last 12 months.

    Commenting on Greece and Germany, the EU Commissioner said: "Greece and Germany will exit the excessive deficit procedure very soon and the 'green light' will be given next Monday when the Commission publishes its estimates for the two countries' economies."

    Caption: European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is shown in a file photo at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Tuesday 13 June 2006. ANA-MPA/ EPA / PHILIPPE GISSELBRECHT

    [03] Off-season fees cut in half at 5 island airports

    Greece will slash all landing, take-off and parking fees by 50 percent in five provincial airports from Oct. 1 until March 31 each year, a move aimed at boosting air traffic during the off-season months, Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis said on Thursday.

    The minister said the measure will cover five popular island airports -- Hania and Irakleio (both on Crete), Rhodes, Corfu and Kos. He stressed that the measure is part of an initiative to boost all-season tourism by offering more incentives to airlines and tour operators for special "travel packages" to Greek destinations.

    Caption: A file photo shows the Nikos Kazantzakis Airport in Irakleio, Crete. ANA-MPA / S. RAPANIS.


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