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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-11-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Social Solidarity bill tabled in parliament
  • [02] EU acquires its first President, new Foreign Affairs chief
  • [03] 2010 State Budget tabled

  • [01] Social Solidarity bill tabled in parliament

    The government's draft law on the "social solidarity economic reinforcement, social responsibility contribution of the large enterprises and the large real estate properties", which also contains other provisions of the economy, labor and social security, and health social solidarity ministries was tabled in parliament on Friday, following a public dialogue.

    The introduction to the bill said that the draft law comprises implementation of the government's policy statements for reinforcing low-income families and vulnerable social groups.

    An estimated 2,527,000 people are beneficiaries of the social solidarity benefit, which is budgeted at approximately one billion euros, with the benefit ranging from 300 to 1,300 euros per beneficiary.

    The beneficiaries include low-income salary earners, farmers and vulnerable social groups such as pensioners, people with a disability, people suffering from renal failure, people who have undergone transplants, uninsured and OAED-registered unemployed, etc.

    A total of 870 million euros are slated to be forthcoming from an extraordinary contribution imposed on 300 large enterprises, while the additional tax imposed on 60,285 large property owners is expected to bring in another 180 million euros.

    The public deliberation on the bill took place from November 3 to 8, and a total of 886 comments and views were submitted, according to the introductory note.

    [02] EU acquires its first President, new Foreign Affairs chief

    A European Union special summit on Thursday named Belgian prime minister Herman Van Rompuy as the 27-nation bloc's first president, and European trade commissioner from Britain Catherine Ashton as the EU's new foreign policy chief.

    The 62-year-old Rompuy is the first President of the European Council (council of the heads of state and government of the 27 EU member countries), while Lady Ashton is the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

    The summit selected the two top officials that will represent the entire EU on the world stage.

    Caption: The EU's first president, Belgian prime minister Herman Van Rompuy (L) and new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, the European Commissioner from Britain who holds the 27-nation bloc's Trade portfolio, congratulate each other after their appointment on Thursday by an EU special informal summit in Brussels. (EPA)

    [03] 2010 State Budget tabled

    The Greek government on Friday tabled in Parliament the state budget for 2010, envisaging measures to cut the country's fiscal deficit to a single-digit number as a percentage of GDP and containing the public debt.

    The draft budget also aims to cut state overspending, limit public spending, promote permanent measures to boost state revenues through a drastic clamp down on tax evasion, raise spending on investments, boost job positions and support incomes through pay rises above the annual inflation rate.

    The government's economic policy will also focus on implementing its policy commitments, such as tabling a draft bill ensuring the independence of the National Statistical Service (ESYE), reforming the system of drafting and executing state budgets and promoting a draft legislation for the reform of the taxation system and boosting transparency in public finances.

    The government has set as a top priority efforts to deal with an economic crisis and returning the Greek economy to a growth trend by adopting a bold and credible fiscal management framework. The draft budget's introductory report stressed that restoring confidence in public finances was a precondition for economic growth and prosperity, releasing funds to finance growth and social programs. The government also aims that a new tax policy would offer a simple, stable tax framework guaranteeing justice in the tax system.

    The 2010 budget was submitted, for the first time, in electronic form with a flash memory stick, by finance minister George Papaconstantinou, in the presence of prime minister George Papandreou. The draft budget will be debated by the authoritative parliamentary committee on Thursday, December 3, while the debate in the parliament plenary will begin on December 19, culminating in a vote at midnight on Wednesday, December 23.

    The 2010 budget envisages net revenues of 57.56 billion euros (53.70 billion regular budget revenues and 3.86 billion from the public investments program), or 23.6 pct of the country's GDP, up from 21.5 pct in 2009.

    Spending will total 32.8 pct of GDP next year, from 33.7 pct in 2009, cutting the central government's deficit to 9.2 pct of GDP, from the current 12.2 pct. The budget envisages that spending on wages and pensions will total 46.1 pct of primary spending next year, up 2.8 pct from 2009, while spending on additional benefits will be lowered by 75 million euros, or 7.8 pct of GDP. The draft report envisages a 6.9 pct increase on spending for the Education ministry and a 4.2 pct rise for the Justice, Transparency and Human Rights ministry. Spending for the Health ministry is projected to rise by 3.1 pct, while cuts of 6.3 pct and 3.6 pct are projected for the Culture & Tourism and the Agricultural Development and Food ministries, respectively.

    The public investment program is projected to total 10.3 billion euros in 2010, up 8.4 pct from 2009, accounting for 4.2 pct of GDP, while capital inflows from the EU are projected at 6.856 billion euros, up from 4.843 billion euros in 2009.

    The central government debt is projected at 326.305 billion euros (133.6 pct of GDP) next year, up from 300.80 billion in 2009 (125.3 pct of GDP), while the general government debt is projected at 294.95 billion euros (120.8 pct of GDP), up from 272.30 billion (113.4 pct of GDP) in 2009. State bonds account for 82.6 pct of the central government debt, with syndicated loans accounting for 12.1 pct, bills 3.1 pct and Bank of Greece's loans 2.2 pct.

    The 2010 budget does not envisage revenues from privatisation.

    The draft budget also envisages the creation of a financially viable social insurance system covering the needs of citizens and guaranteeing fraternity between generations. Under the government's plan, all existing social insurance funds will merge into larger, autonomous, viable pension funds with adequate funding so as to provide a basic pension of 550 euros, combating bureaucracy and boosting transparency in management.

    Caption: Prime minister George Papandreou with finance minister George Papaconstantinou. (ANA-MPA/K. Mavrona)

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