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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-30

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] OECD hails Greek growth, urges more reforms
  • [02] President Papoulias begins visit to Russia

  • [01] OECD hails Greek growth, urges more reforms

    Greek economic performance is one of the best among OECD member-states in the last decade, with GDP growth rising at an average annual rate of more than 4.5 pct in the period 1995-2005 (the second highest rate in the Eurozone and the OECD 30 member states), a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday.

    The report, presented by the Organisation‚s secretary-general Angel Gurria in Athens, stressed it was encouraging that strong growth rates were mainly based on investments and exports in the last two years despite a fiscal consolidation effort by the government, while it stressed that informal economy contributed less than 1.0 pct of GDP.

    The Paris-based Organisation said it was very likely that growth rate would remain around 4.0 pct, but more reforms were needed to sustain this performance in the next few years, mainly to deal with weaknesses in product and labour markets, to continue fiscal consolidation and promoting reforms in the pension system. The report said managing the necessary reforms in the context of a complacent society was a very significant challenge.

    The OECD hailed a successful fiscal consolidation and stressed that this process must continue, probably with more speed, due to a high public debt and forecasts over a rising future fiscal cost because of an ageing population -one of the highest in the Organisation.

    The report said the public sector had significant room to cut primary spending, reducing workforce and boosting the performance of public sector enterprises, combating tax-evasion and expanding the tax base through tax reform policies.

    The Organisation said a rising current accounts deficit (around 9.5 pct of a revised GDP in 2006) was related with a trend of declining competitiveness and a high inflation rate.

    The report underlined the need for a radical reform of the pension system, a more flexible labour market and called for a cut in minimum wage and lower employers‚ contributions for low wage workers.

    The OECD called for an improvement of the education system and called for the introduction of annual fees in the country‚s universities.

    The report said some of the proposed reforms were included in the government‚s agenda and noted that the government must convince the public opinion over the necessity of reforms.

    Photo: Greek Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis (L) and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria presenting the report during a press conference in Athens on Wednesday. (ANA-MPA/Maria Moroyiannis)

    [02] President Papoulias begins visit to Russia

    President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias arrived in Moscow on Wednesday for a four-day official visit and will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Thursday.

    On arrival on Wednesday, Papoulias had a meeting with Moscow and All Russia Patriarch Alexios who stressed the "long-term friendly relations between the Greeks and Russians and the particularly strong and sincere relation which is due to the joint participation in Orthodoxy."

    The Patriarch of the Russian Church briefed President Papoulias on its decision to welcome in Moscow next January, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, on the occasion of the bestowal to the Primate of the Greek Church of an award by the International Foundation of Unity of Orthodox Peoples.

    On Thursday, Papoulias will meet President Putin, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Moscow Mayor Yuri Louzhkov.

    The Greek president also attended a concert with works by Mozart during his visit to the Pushkin Museum. The orchestra was conducted by Greek conductor Theodoros Kouretzis, who was awarded this year's "Golden Mask", the greatest Russian award for arts.

    President Papoulias is accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis and Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia.

    Bakoyannis is expected to sign with her counterpart Sergei Lavrov a cooperation program between the two ministries and the two governments. The other three Greek ministers will also have meetings with their counterparts on Thursday.

    President Papoulias‚ talks are expected to focus on Greek-Russian cooperation issues, the situation in the Balkans, European Union-Russia relations and the situation in the eastern Mediterranean.


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