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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-11-22

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Education Minister to meet with university rectors over staff strike impasse
  • [02] Draft budget 'conditional', SYRIZA stresses; Opposition parties deplore cuts in social spending
  • [03] Greek economy to return to growth in 2014, draft budget

  • [01] Education Minister to meet with university rectors over staff strike impasse

    ANA-MPA -- Education Minister Constantine Arvanitopoulos is scheduled to meet with eight university rectors on Friday afternoon in an attempt to resolve an impasse involving an extended strike by administrative staff placed under the mobility scheme, as court decisions have called the strikes at specific institutions illegal and students are facing the prospect of losing a semester.

    Speaking to private Antenna (ANT1) TV, Arvanitopoulos said the staff is not being laid off, but is being transferred. "These are not layoffs, they are mobility," the minister said, adding that 650 administrative staff will be transferred to other intititutions.

    He added that these universities were asked for their staff assessments and all said they needed additional personnel. He also reiterated the need for universities to operate normally, adding that applications for student transfers to other universities will take place in November.

    Meanwhile, ASEP, the state employment board, has published mobility lists for five out of the eight universities staff to be affected - Thessaloniki, Athens Economic, Thessaly, Crete and Patras Universities.

    Administrative staff country-wide have been on strike for 11 weeks to protest the government's decision, which is part of an obligation to trim the public sector. The court of Athens has issued three decisions so far involving the University of Athens and National Polytechnic (Metsovion) Universities, calling the strikes there illegal; its latest ruling was on Thursday.

    [02] Draft budget 'conditional', SYRIZA stresses; Opposition parties deplore cuts in social spending

    ANA-MPA -- Commenting on the draft budget for 2014 unveiled on Thursday, main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group rapporteur for economic issues Efklidis Tsakalotos described it as "conditional" since it had not been agreed with Greece's creditors and no new Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy had yet been unveiled. Tsakalotos expressed his conviction that the contents of the draft budget on fiscal indices will soon change, while stressing that its exclusive target appears to be that of achieving a primary surplus "no matter the cost". Among such 'costs' he listed the sharp hike in property taxes, envisioned to jump 41 percent relative to 2013 in order to reach 4.0 billion euros. According to Tsakalotis, this represented roughly one third of income tax for all categories, which he said made a mockery of taxation in accordance with the ability to pay. At the same time, he noted that spending was set to drop by an additional 3.0 billion euros, with the bulk of the cuts - roughly 80 percent - coming from the socially sensitive labour, health and education ministries. "In other words, the remnants of the social state are being sacrificed on the altar of fiscal adjustment," he added, and this for a rather indifferent result, since the public debt was not reduced but "simply not increasing as fast as before" so that the country remain locked in a "debt trap". The opposition Independent Greeks party also highlighted the social cost of the draft budget, with party Parliamentary spokesman Notis Marias calling it a "success story for the creditors and social destitution for the citizens". "It continues to implement the well-known memorandum recipe, which even the creditors have admitted is flawed, driving the economy into a slow death," he said. A Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announcement said the draft budget continued to loot the working classes through taxation, especially the self-employed and small businesses, while bringing further reductions in state spending on education, health and support for social insurance funds and local governments. "Achieving a primary surplus is the result of anti-popular policy and signals state support for the benefit of capital," the announcement added.

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    [03] Greek economy to return to growth in 2014, draft budget

    ANA-MPA -- The Greek economy will return to growth in 2014, following six years of unprecedented recession, and will achieve a primary surplus of 3.0 billion euros (from 812 million euros this year), according to provisions of the 2014 draft budget, signaling the country's gradual exit from the crisis. The new budget, tabled to Parliament by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and presented by Finance Alternate Minister Christos Staikouras, envisages, among others, a 0.6 pct growth rate in 2014, from a recession of 4.0 pct in 2013. The public debt will ease to 174.6 pct of GDP (320 billion euros) next year, from 175.5 pct of GDP in 2013. The unemployment rate will fall to 26 pct, while the primary surplus will total 1.6 pct of GDP (2.956 billion euros), from 0.4 pct of GDP (812 million euros) in 2013. The new budget does not envisage cuts in salaries and pensions, while an increase in tax revenues is expected to be covered basically from a new property tax (2.65 billion euros). The new budget also includes a cut in property transfer tax from 10 pct to 3.0 pct and an increase of spending of the Public Investment Program by 150 million euros compared with this year. Budget revenues are projected to rise by 2.177 billion euros, or 4.1 pct to 54.695 billion euros. Net regular budget revenue will rise to 49.693 billion euros from 47.382 billion euros in 2013, with proceeds from direct taxes rising to 21.574 billion (19.884 billion in 2013), while proceeds from indirect taxes will fall to 24.087 billion (24.519 billion this year). The budget plan estimates that tax proceeds will rise next year helped by an economic recovery and the introduction of new taxes on property (1.153 billion euros), while proceeds from indirect taxes will fall by 1.8 pct to 24.087 billion. The privatization program is projected to raise 3.56 billion euros in state revenues next year, largely from the exploitation of the state property assets (3,000 assets). Budget spendings are projected to fall by 3.079 billion euros to 56.248 billion euros, reflecting a decline in regular budget spending (-6.4 pct) to 41.946 billion euros. Spending on servicing the country's public debt will rise by 0.8 pct to 6.150 billion euros. The budget plan does not include cuts in salaries and pensions. Spending on salaries and pensions will total 17.723 billion euros in 2014, with pension spending rising 4.5 pct. The budget also integrates a program of structural actions to boost revenues by social insurance funds and combatting contribution evasion. This package is expected to raise 600 million euros annually in added revenue. The public sector's consumer spending is projected to drop by 18.7 pct next year, reflecting cutbacks in transfer compensation, leasing costs and other operating expenses. The Public Investment Program's spending is expected to rise by 150 million euros to 6.8 billion euros next year. "The surplus is more than double the surplus forecast in the draft budget submitted a month ago, while the fiscal adjustment programme of the Greek economy had forecast a zero surplus," Staikouras said while presenting the draft budget. The discussion on the draft budget will begin at the relevant standing committee on November 25 and be completed over four sessions, said Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis soon after receiving it. Discussion of the budget at the Parliament's plenum is expected to begin on December 3 or 4, he said, and will be completed over five sessions, including the vote by roll call.

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