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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-25

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM meets with Victoria State Premier Bracks, tours Greek community school in Melbourne
  • [02] Papandreou unveils employment, tax policies
  • [03] Span bridge named for 19th century Greek PM
  • [04] OECD: Greek GDP to grow by 4% annually in '07-08
  • [05] Athens dismisses Ankara quip on Pontian genocide

  • [01] PM meets with Victoria State Premier Bracks, tours Greek community school in Melbourne

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, continuing his week-long official visit to Australia, on Friday met with Victoria State Premier Steve Bracks and with Victoria Governor David de Kretser, with talks focusing primarily on the robust ethnic Greek community in the state as well as a strengthening of bilateral economic and trade relations.

    Earlier, Karamanlis, accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis, visited the Greek Orthodox College "Aghioi Anargyroi" in Auckley, a district with a distinct Greek presence in southeastern Melbourne, which is attended by approximately 750 children.

    Following a tour of the facilities, the school's director thanked the Greek prime minister and his delegation for visiting "the jewel of the Greek community of the southeastern suburbs", while assuring Karamanlis that it will continue to provide high-quality education to the young generations Greek-Australians.

    In a brief greeting, Karamanlis stressed that Greece will do everything possible to reinforce the bonds between the new generation of Greek-Australians and the motherland, through special programmes, teacher orientation programmes and hospitality programmes in Greece for the children.

    On Friday evening, Karamanlis will address a mass gathering of the Greek community at the Rod Laver Arena.

    Meanwhile, Bakoyannis also attended events marking the 66th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, held Thursday evening at the Cretan Village site in Melbourne.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (L), accompanied by his wife Natassa (C) and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (R) visit the Greek Orthodox pupils academy of Aghioi Anargyroi in southeast Melbourne on Friday, May 25, 2007. ANA-MPA / G. ANTONIOU.

    [02] Papandreou unveils employment, tax policies

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday unveiled a series of policies he said will form the centrepiece of a future PASOK government's economic reform package, during an address at the annual general assembly of Greece's largest employers' union, the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB).

    Papandreou, a former foreign minister in two successive PASOK governments until 2004, initially referred to a "new social pact for development and employment" before listing off a number of measures to boost employment and job security, including a four-year period of lower social security contributions by newly hired young people. Another measure would allow laid-off older workers the opportunity to transform state-allocated unemployment benefits into an "employment" or self-employment subsidy, whereas wage-earners laid-off shortly before reaching retirement age will be given priority in certain public sector hirings in order to accumulate the necessary amount of work days towards obtaining a full pension.

    Papandreou also announced several measures he said aim at widespread simplification of the corporate tax regime, such as index-linked tax scales. Conversely, he said profits and dividends paid out by enterprises to staff and shareholders would be taxed as personal income, in tandem with a new tax on short-term market transactions.

    Additionally, he said various property taxes would be lumped into one unified duty, whose proceeds would be funnelled towards local government entities, while more effective measures would be taken to tax real estate holdings in the country belonging to off-shore companies.

    Finally, Papandreou said the so-called large property holding tax would be overhauled to benefit truly small property owners while exacting a "fairer share" from large property owners.

    "My personal commitment is not to exercise a personal policy of favouritism, but a policy that will ensure healthy competition, with the goal being the country's (increased) competitiveness. We do not want citizens or businesspeople to act as beggars vis-à-vis the state for the things they are entitled to," Papandreou said.

    The PASOK leader said a simplification of Greece's often maze-like tax codes means less bookkeeping procedures and regulations for firms, and more transparency in dealing with tax authorities. Moreover, he also said a PASOK government goal will be to create "national and regional" business champions.

    He began his address by again sharply criticising the government over the ongoing bonds purchase affair, charging that the current government has squandered state's trustworthiness and undermined the justice system, public administration, the political parties, the business world, the law enforcement sector and the unions.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    [03] Span bridge named for 19th century Greek PM

    The Rio-Antirrio span bridge connecting the Peloponnese province in the south of the country with western continental Greece will be named on Friday in honor of late 19th century Greek statesman and prime minister Harilaos Trikoupis who first proposed the project, nearly three years after it opened to the public.

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will be on hand for the ceremony.

    A day earlier on Thursday, Papoulias addressed the general assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) at the Athens Concert Hall.

    "Today's challenges of a henceforth open world is unprecedented for the Greek and European enterprise. Maybe this is not valid for the very big industries, few, however, Greek ones are on this level. This reality must concern all of us, both on a national and European framework," Papoulias said.

    He noted that "in today's conditions, the Greek but also in general the industries of the western world are at a crucial curb" and directing himself to the representatives of the country's industrial world stressed that "in this extremely complex environment you are called on to operate with objective not only the growth of your enterprise, but mainly its contribution to the broader economic growth and social prosperity."

    Caption: A view of the Rio-Antirrio Bridge. ANA-MPA

    [04] OECD: Greek GDP to grow by 4% annually in '07-08

    Robust real GDP growth in 2006, boosted by lively domestic demand, is expected to continue both this year and in 2008, with the Greek economy growing at around 4.0 percent annually, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.

    In its bi-annual Economic Outlook report on the Greek economy, the Paris-based Organisation said, however, that inflationary pressures would probably remain strong, undermining competitiveness, because of a positive "production gap" and a strong increase in cost per labour unit. The report also said it expected the country's current accounts deficit to remain huge.

    Because of strong growth rates and the future high cost of an ageing population in the country, OECD urged for a continuation of fiscal consolidation efforts, probably speedier than originally planned, and stressed that containing spending and further expanding the tax base would be decisive factors towards this goal.

    Long-term fiscal viability can be achieved only through widespread reforms of the pension and social security systems, more competition was needed in industries with network infrastructure, reforming the labour market and maintaining strong growth rates, the report said.

    OECD said it expected Greek economy growth at 3.9 pct this year and 3.8 pct in 2008. Rising interest rates could lead to a slowdown of domestic demand growth rates, although activity would be supported by lower incomes taxation and initiatives to boost investments.

    The Organisation expects the unemployment rate to fall to 8.1 pct of the workforce this year, from 8.4 pct in 2006, and to fall further to 7.9 pct next year.

    The general government deficit is projected to fall to 1.9 pct of GDP this year, from 2.3 pct in 2006, but to rise to 2.2 pct of GDP in 2008 if no new corrective measures were taken. OECD's forecasts did not taken in view the permanent increase of the country's contribution to the EU, after a GDP revision, nor the one-off retro payment resulting from this revision -a development likely to affect this year's data.

    The current accounts deficit is projected at 9.4 pct of GDP this year, and to 8.9 pct of GDP in 2008. Exports are expected to rise by 5.2 pct this year, from 5.0 pct in 2006, and by 7.2 pct in 2008, while imports to slowdown rising by 6.3 pct in 2007 and 5.3 pct in 2008, from 6.9 pct in 2006.

    Harmonised inflation is projected to fall below 3.0 pct this year, to 2.8 pct, after a 3.3 pct rate in 2006, rising again to 3.0 pct in 2008.

    [05] Athens dismisses Ankara quip on Pontian genocide

    "History can neither be falsified or rewritten," Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed on Thursday in his reply to Turkish foreign ministry statements disputing that a genocide of Pontian (Black Sea region) Greeks had taken place in the first quarter of the 20th century.

    "History cannot be written off. It cannot be rewritten. It cannot be falsified. Nor can it, of course, be the victim of domestic political rivalry and expediency," Koumoutsakos underlined.

    The spokesman stressed that Greece "respected history but also had its gaze turned on the future" and thus wanted "full normalisation" of its relations with Turkey, for the sake of stability and development on a bilateral and regional level.

    "Stability and development that only full respect of good neighbourly relations can ensure," he added.

    According to a Turkish foreign ministry statement, claims that Greeks living for centuries along the shores of the southern Black Sea in Anatolia had been the victims of genocide at the hands of Turkish authorities and irregulars in the early 20th century had "no historical and scientific basis".

    The Turkish foreign ministry also criticised a law passed by the Greek Parliament in 1994 establishing May 19 as a day of memory of the Pontian genocide, saying that it targeted the founder of the modern Turkish state, Kemal Ataturk.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Koumoutsakos.


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