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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-11-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: 2010 budget lays foundations for recovery
  • [02] Hotel owner charged over CO poisoning deaths
  • [03] GDP down by 0.3% in '10
  • [04] Ceremony for Marathon race
  • [05] Biden hosts Patriarch
  • [06] Athens newspaper headlines

  • [01] PM: 2010 budget lays foundations for recovery

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday presented the 2010 budget drawn up by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou to his cabinet, stressing that this would lay the foundations for the country's economic recovery.

    "We are beginning to carry out all that we promised before the elections," the prime minister stressed, saying that the draft 2010 budget put together in just one month after the elections that brought the party to power was a "serious" budget that took into account the true capabilities of the country and made "a break with the past".

    More specifically, he referred to an end of phenomena of corruption, waste and the frittering of public money in pursuit of client politics that he said had taken on "the proportions of an epidemic in recent years".

    Papandreou said that the method for drawing up the budget would be changed from the following year, while noting that the 2010 budget represented a decisive step toward the future and insisting that the government would not renege on its pre-election pledges nor back down from its target of redistributing income, even though the true state of the economy had proved to be much worse than that presented by the previous New Democracy government before the elections.

    The prime minister said the draft budget aimed to stimulate the market and economic activity, as well as employment, while also including measures against high prices. It would be accompanied by a full and realistic recording of statistical figures on the economy and a new taxation system marked by transparency, a just distribution of the tax burden and correct investment of the Greek tax-payer's money.

    The government's aim was to strike at tax evasion but also instill a tax conscience among the public, Papandreou added, listing as the government's goals the protection of poorer social groups, a stimulus of small and medium-sized enterprises and the market and regaining the trust of Greece's EU partners and international markets.

    "In other words, to make Greece believe in itself again," he said.

    Papandreou also underlined that PASOK had succeeded in shattering the myth that nothing can change in Greece through the changes in the structure of the government, which he described as "historic", pointing out that these had also attracted the attention of visited United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon, who had referred to them in his speech.

    [02] Hotel owner charged over CO poisoning deaths

    A public prosecutor on Saturday charged the 34-year-old owner of the Hotel Nepheli in Thessaloniki's Panorama district with two counts manslaughter through negligence and causing bodily harm through negligence after two guests died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the hotel. The charges are being prosecuted as misdemeanours.

    The hotel owner was released after he was charged.

    The manslaughter charges relate to the deaths of two young men aged 27 and 28 years old, one of them a father of one, who were found dead in different rooms within the hotel over a period of 24 hours and proved to have died of inhaling carbon monoxide fumes in their sleep. The second charge relates to a third guest staying in the hotel that felt unwell and lost consciousness.

    The prosecutor said that the evidence file submitted to the public prosecutor was judged incomplete and returned to the Panorama police station, which was asked to include the coroner's report on the two deaths and the experts' report on the hotel's central heating system.

    The hotel owner has claimed that the technicians installing a new gas-fuelled central heating system in the hotel four years earlier had failed to inform him that he needed to carry out yearly maintenance and that he had two maintenance technicians on his staff.

    The Central Macedonia Tourism Directorate is expected to issue a decision temporarily closing down the hotel within the next 24 hours.

    [03] GDP down by 0.3% in '10

    The 2010 budget is a starting point for a new effort amid a very difficult fiscal environment, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told reporters on Thursday during the presentation of the state‚s draft budget.

    The minister said it was a "transition budget", seeking a recovery of the economy, a redistribution of incomes and putting state‚s finances in order.

    It was the first time that a state budget envisaged cuts in primary spending, Papaconstantinou said, adding that the government believed that the state should respect citizens‚ money. He noted that the budget was a tool of economic policy, but structural changes were needed, while he added that the government would adhere to its pledge to change the country‚s tax system. A dialogue would begin soon for a new tax draft law, which would be probably ready in March, he said.

    Conversely, he acknowledged that the situation was very difficult because of the very high fiscal deficit and public debt, accompanied by structural weaknesses in public administration.

    The budget envisages a negative growth rate of -0.3 pct next year, down from -1.5 pct in 2009, while investments are projected to fall by -2.0 pct from -20 pct this year.

    Exports are expected to grow by 2.5 pct in 2010, down from -14 pct in 2009, while imports are projected to recover, with a growth of 1.5 pct from -22 pct this year.

    The state‚s regular revenues are projected to grow by 3.82 billion euros, with regular revenues totaling 56.9 billion euros, up 7.2 pct from this year. Tax revenues are expected to grow by 7.2 pct to 54.225 billion euros, reflecting the implementation of a new tax system, combating tax evasion and speeding up procedures to collect outstanding taxes.

    The government expects revenues from direct taxes to rise by 8.9 pct to 23.725 billion euros next year, from 21.785 billion in 2009. Income tax revenues were projected to grow by 3.5 pct to 17.375 billion euros, corporate taxes to fall by 7.2 pct to 3.525 billion euros, property taxes to jump by 82.1 pct to 865 million euros and revenues from direct taxes of previous fiscal years to rise by 4.8 pct to 2.725 billion euros.

    Revenues from indirect taxes were projected to grow by 6.0 pct to 30.5 billion euros, revenues from transactions taxes to rise by 4.1 pct to 18.472 billion euros and VAT proceeds to rise by 5.0 pct to 17.315 billion euros. A 10.2 pct rise in VAT proceeds is projected following the imposition of a special consumption tax on cigarettes.

    [04] Ceremony for Marathon race

    The ceremony for the start of the 27th Classic Marathon took pace at the Marathon Tomb on Saturday, attended by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias. The race will take place in Athens on Sunday and follows the route attributed by legend to the ancient runner Pheidippides, when he ran from the battlefield to ancient Athens to bring the city news of victory over the Persians.

    The president watched the lighting of the flame and the start of a torch-relay that will end two hours later at the Marathon stadium, from where the runners set off on Sunday.

    Papoulias was later shown around the stadium by local mayor Spyridonas Zagaris and then inaugurated the Marathon Race museum, where there are 3,000 exhibits related to the race. The inauguration was also attended by Deputy Culture Minister Angela Gerekou and officials from international sports associations.

    [05] Biden hosts Patriarch

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA - A. Ellis) U.S. Vice-president Joe Biden gave an official dinner for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the vice-presidential mansion here late on Friday, during which he expressed support for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his respect for the Patriarch himself.

    "We are with you and support the Ecumenical Patriarch as a leader of global standing," Biden stated in a speech at the dinner, praising Bartholomew's unflagging courage in the face of difficulties.

    "It is easy to be brave from a safe distance,‚ the Vice President said to Bartholomew: ‚You have always been brave and never from a safe distance. You have stared down those who seek to erode the authority of the Church tirelessly, professing the Greek Orthodox way for millions of followers.‚

    Biden also voiced strong praise for the Patriarch's work on environmental awareness and his important contribution to greater understanding and tolerance between different faiths.

    During the dinner, the U.S. vice-president and Patriarch Bartholomew discussed at length the problems currently faced by the Patriarchate in Fanar and the need to re-open the Halki School of Theology in order to train Orthodox clergy.

    [06] Athens newspaper headlines

    The Saturday edition of Athens ' dailies at a glance

    Main opposition New Democracy's (ND) party conference and the draft budget unveiled by the government, as well as the dockworkers' strike in Piraeus, dominated headlines in Athens newspapers on Saturday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The Extraordinary Conference began today with the participation of 4,459 members and the slogan: "ND: Opening to Society, Cohesion - Solidarity - Prospects".

    APOGEVMATINI: "7,000 private car owners in limbo. They are losing both their cars and the cash compensation they would have received".

    AVGHI: "Unemployment at 13 percent. Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos raises [number of] unemployed to 650,000 citing figures from the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED)".

    AVRIANI: "Strike at Piraeus port triggers wave of price hikes on the market. Merchants in despair and export businesses resorting to courts ".

    CHORA: "Talking plain. Political and moral obligation of the candidate leaders of ND and the delegates to speak openly and clearly on all issues".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The 'worn product' of ND with Dora [Bakoyannis]! Exclusive interview with Yiannis Manolis".

    ELEFTHEROS: "They are 'cooking' the first appointments to the social insurance funds. According to a document sent by the Labour minister to all their administrations".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Paring all tax exemptions. Government puts more than 900 under the microscope".

    ESTIA: "The vision is missing. The country needs general overhaul".

    ETHNOS: "Radical changes to military service. 'Package' of measures to modernise armed forces".

    KATHIMERINI: "A body of select police officers against tax evasion. Return to assumed income criteria for freelance professionals".

    LOGOS: "Tension at the port. Lawsuits have begun, problems for the market".

    NIKI: "Byzantine intrigues. Massacre in the Church over 'holy' property".

    PRESS TIME: "SOS: Toxic wastes. Death in 'strange' freight. The cause of cancer that is smiting entire regions".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Single state shipyard industrial body. Announcement by the political bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) about developments at Skaramangas".

    STO KARFI: "[ND candidate for presidency Antonis Samaras] threatens. I still have one bullet. Massacre at the conference".

    TA NEA: "Income indicators and new 'Rambo' force on the way. Campaign against tax evasion".

    VIMA: "[Finance Minister George] Papaconstantinou's nightmares and the secrets of the new taxation".

    VRADYNI: "Plan for revolution. New Democracy: Change in charter voted today".

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