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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou: 'We are restoring a state of law'
  • [02] EU eyes excessive deficit procedures

  • [01] Papandreou: 'We are restoring a state of law'

    The draft bill on public sector appointments will be the first step toward restoring a state of law in the direction of justice, equality and legality, Prime Minister George Papandreou said during Wednesday's meeting of the Cabinet that discussed and approved the proposed bill.

    "As a society we will no longer tolerate client relations [in politics], deals and lawlessness. No Greek man or woman can abide them because this is why Greece has stagnated over the last five years," Papandreou underlined. He stressed that fairness and meritocracy would be the foundation of the new effort and that it was the government's duty to "draw a red line" between the present and a murky past.

    "This may annoy certain people but what is important is that this red line will be liberating for most people and for the country," he added.

    The prime minister said that the envisaged change toward an open government that was accountable, efficient and fair would not be achieved in one day nor with one bill.

    "It is a matter of daily struggle with constant initiatives on all levels and for all decisions. This is what happened both with the selection of the general secretaries and with public debate on the Internet and we will continue on this path," Papandreou said.

    Reviewing the government's work during its first 35 days in office, the prime minister said that it had started to put into action the major changes for which PASOK had received the electorate's mandate.

    "The government must daily assure the citizens with actions, each day making one step forward, that we are carrying out our pre-election pledges," he emphasised.

    The prime minister especially underlined the issue of gaining people's trust, stressing that the government had to persuade citizens that it was trustworthy in order to gain not just their toleration but also their support and participation.

    "Without participation we will not bring about change," he warned the ministers, noting that people would only be persuaded to participate if they were convinced that the government was making a serious and sincere effort for them and the country.

    In statements on Monday, Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis had said that the draft bill presented to the cabinet on Wednesday was prepared in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP), which would henceforth be exclusively responsible for public-sector appointments.

    Among the main changes envisaged is the abolition of the personal interview for job candidates that had been introduced by the New Democracy government, on the grounds that it was open to abuse, and the abolition of "bonus" work experience points awarded to those in state-sector 'Stage' vocational training programmes over those with equivalent work experience in the private sector.

    [02] EU eyes excessive deficit procedures

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis) -- Greece has failed to take the necessary measures to cut its fiscal deficit, according to recommendations made last spring by the EU Council, the European Commission announced on Wednesday, before recommending that the country be placed under excessive deficit procedures of Article 104(8) of the Treaty of Maastricht.

    In practice, this means that the European Commission will recommend to the Council a new framework of actions regarding the Greek economy, which will be specified with procedure under Article 104(9) by early 2010.

    Specifically, the Commission considered that no effective action has been taken to deflect the heightened deterioration in the budgetary position in 2009 (-12.7 percent, according to the autumn forecast, as opposed -3.7 percent committed by the previous government), citing an insufficient response by Greek authorities. On the expenditure side, the 2009 budget execution pointed to sizeable expenditure overruns (2¬Ĺ percentage points of GDP) in 2009, of which more than half is attributed to higher-than-budgeted outlays for compensation of employees and increased capital spending.

    The Commission, therefore, recommended the Council to conclude that Greece has not taken effective action, according to Article 104(8) of the Treaty.

    In the case of France, Ireland, Spain and the UK, it concluded that effective action had been taken. However, due to unexpected economic events, in other words the worsening global crisis at the turn of the year, which impacted the budget balances beyond the control of governments, the existing deadlines and implied annual structural adjustment were judged as unrealistic.

    Under these circumstances, the SGP permits the Council to issue revised recommendations including a revised deadline, on the basis of a Commission proposal. The deadlines have therefore been extended by one year for this group.

    EU Commissioner on Monetary Affairs, Joaquin Almunia, commenting on the EU executive‚s statement, said everyone agreed on the need to draft clear and credible exit strategies from the crisis to limit fiscal deficit and public debts, which have dramatically risen because of the crisis.

    The Stability and Growth Pact offers the basis for such exit strategies, through an excessive deficit procedure and with stability and convergence programmes to be published next January.

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