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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-27
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM: Fact-finding commission on Siemens affairPrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday announced his decision to propose the establishment of an inter-party committee on "political money", speaking in parliament during an off-the-agenda discussion on the high cost of living, while at the same time he announced the intention of his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's parliamentary group to request the setting up of a parliamentary fact-finding commission on the Siemens affair "as soon as Justice completes its inquiry".
Addressing an open invitation to all the political forces, Karamanlis further said he would request of the parliament president to immediately proceed with the establihsment of an inter-party committee to undertake the drafting of a comprehensive proposal for enhancing transparency "particularly on matters that concern the operation of political parties, their operational and electoral expenditues, and for their funding, to the greatest possible degree, by the state budget".
During the debate, which took place at the instigation of main opposition PASOK party, Karamanlis severely criticised "those pretending to be keynesians" in the shielding of the political system "who voted against all the laws on transparency, who undermined the institutional shielding of the parties and the consolidation of transparency by way of the revision of the Constitution".
Karamanlis said that ND had tabled a series of proposals which, today, could have served as the "constitutional dictates". This, however, did not happen, "due to the negative stance of the opposition".
The premier further said that he was open to every productive proposal.
"I once again ask that we proceed ahead together. If their is rejection yet again, the governmental majority (in parliament) is prepared, and determined, to forge ahead. It is my decision to not give anyone the opportunity to create shadows at the expense of the political world, to attempt to transfer the responsibilities, to engage in exercises of disinformation," Karamanlis stressed.
The premier also spoke of an "attempt to downrate Justice and to diffuse the resonsibilities in the Siemens case", and described as "hypocritical" PASOK leader George Papandreou's call for the immediate setting up of a fact-finding commission.
"Let no one have the slightest doubt. I have been saying this since February. A fact-finding commission will be set up at our own initiative. It is our commitment. It will be set up, however, immediately after Justice completes its inquiry," Karamanlis stressed, and assured that the judicial inquiry will proceed, and will be completed, adding that "we will not allow anything to delay the judicial investigation".
He further explained that the establishment of a fact-finding commission at the present stage would only "create obstacles to the judicial investigation and obstruct Justice, which is already effectively tracking the evidence, which was covered up in the past", and added that a fact-finding commission at this point "would only serve those who want to hinder the work of justice, it would serve only those who are afraid, who want a cover-up", warning: "There will be no cover-up. That was the practice of other eras, other times, other governments".
Turning to the high cost of living, Karamanlis said that the current 'explosion' in prices was primarily due to the sharp deterioration in the international environment, while for the most part in Greece it was due to chronic weaknesses of the domestic market. "We cannot hide this reality. Neither beauficiations, nor exaggerations, serve any purpose," Karamanlis said, adding that these matters require continuation of the reforms in the state and the growth process, change of the distortions of the market, and strengthening of the inspection mechanisms against the phenomena of profiteering, while they also require the more active moblisation of the citizens".
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in parliament on Friday 27 June 2008. ANA-MPA/ALEXANDROS BELTES
 Papandreou lashes out at government in parliamentMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou passed off as an "exposition of ideas, and confession of failure", prime minister Costas Karamanlis' statements in parliament during an off-the-agenda discussion on the high cost of living in parliament on Friday, and placed blame on the government for the high prices as well as the issue of corruption.
Papandreou accused Karamanlis of missing the opportunity to clash with corruption and the manipulation of the political world by the major interests, at a time when he had received assurances of support in such an effort by PASOK and Papandreou personally.
"We saw, today, an effort at postponement and avoidance, rather than adoption of the proposals that have been tabled by PASOK on transparency," Papandreou said.
Addressing the prime minister specifically, Papandreou said: "I never doubted your integrity. But you are judged for your courage, for assuming your own responsibilities before the Greek people. Isn't it being a hostage when you want to cover-up the big scandals? I heard the talk about referral to justice with respect also to the abductions, the 'relatives', the phone tappings, the sell-off of OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) to the Germans, the structured bonds. Could it be that you are unable to clash (with corruption) becase the 'black' party monies are behind those? Are you prepared to assure that the 'circle of the lost stockbrokers' -- the same ones in 1999, the same ones in the structured bonds affair -- have nothing to do with ND?".
Papandreou continued that he, on the other hand, was "prepared to clash".
"I am already clashing with mentalities and practices that do not allow Greece to move forward. And I will be even more absolute on proven illegalities of our own cadres. Because thousands of known and anonymous cadres, with good work, ethos and contribution, are obliged to give account for them," Papandreou said.
He said that his party was calling for fact-finding commissions so that everything will be brought to light, regardless of whether they implicated PASOK or ND or whatever other cadres. "Whoever is accountable must be named and must pay. Not selective 'leaks' from law offices, but extensio of the parliament plenary session so as to avoid the risk of write-off (expiration of the statute of limitations)," Papandreou said.
And, he continued, after all that had been completed, there must be a "recourse to the people's verdict" (general elections).
"You fear this process, because what ND truly is will be revealed," Papandreou added.
Regarding the high cost of living, Papandreou rejected Karamanlis' statement that the main factor was the international rise in fuel and food prices, and wondered "why in Greece, where we have the same currency, we have the highest cost of living?".
He said that in May, oil prices had risen twice as much as in France. "Is Brussels to blame for this,?" he asked.
On the same note, Papandreou noted the increases in the DEKO (public utility) rates and in the rates of other state services over the past four years -- 24 percent by the Public Power Corporation (PPC), 50 percent in the standard minimum fee by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), 48 percent in the Postal Service (ELTA) rates, 96 percent in the Athens-Thessaloniki toll post fees, among others -- as well as the 'tax exemptions benefitting the few', which Papandreou said the government was exclusively at blame for.
Caption: Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou in parliament on Friday 27 June 2008. ANA-MPA /ALEXANDROS BELTES
 Pavlopoulos on e-governanceThe application of e-governance at central, regional and local administration level will ensure transparency in administrative transactions, combat red-tape, upgrade the quality of services for the people and contribute in making public administration a guarantor of the country's economic development, productivity and progress, interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Friday. Addressing a one-day conference held in Athens on the importance of e-governance in public administration, I Pavlopoulos stressed that the adoption of a framework of principles and specifications at organizational, operational and technical level is imperative. The establishment and implementation of an e-governance service framework will ensure the harmonious and reliable communication between public agencies as well as between public administration, private citizens and companies, he said. "The lack of such a framework creates serious problems when more than one public agency is involved in a transaction," Pavlopoulos stated, adding that this void is being met with the Greek e-governance services framework. The specifications set by the e-governance service framework to be established will be fully implemented in the National Portal "Hermes" through which a total of 20 transactions, mainly with companies, will be initially carried out. The project will feature three sub-systems necessary for the harmonious application of e-governance namely, a central portal, support infrastructure and digital identification of private citizens and companies.
Caption: Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos addresses a conference on e-governance in Athens on Friday 27 June 2008. ANA-MPA/KATERINA MAVRONA
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