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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 08-05-09
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 At the PM's HourOn Expensiveness and Over-Borrowing
09 May 2008 11:51:00
At the P.Ms hour at Parliament, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis appeared willing to discuss the other parties and citizens proposals, so as the necessary feasible measures that will protect consumers from the consequences of over-borrowing and from the improper conduct of Banks are taken. In reply to relevant questions set by Messrs G. Papandreou and G. Karatzaferis on the households over-borrowing, Mr Karamanlis announced measures that would be debated soon at Parliament. These measures will prevent houses from being sold below their rateable value, while auctions will take place at the Small Claims Court with sealed bids. In parallel, a one year grace period with social criteria will be introduced, a property should not be sold if the debt is under 10,000 and income below 1,500 should not be confiscated. He also reported that the Bank of Greece will be responsible for checking interest rates, while the state is responsible for seeing to the borrowers protection and securing a safe competition among Banks.
Mr Papandreou has asked his partys proposals to be materialized and the government to accept PASOKs draft bill presented yesterday on households burdened with over-borrowing. From his side George Karatzaferis asked first homes not be sold irrelevant of their value, warning that the Postal Savings Bank will be sold to ship-owners at low price. Referring to debt collecting agencies that are pressing consumers for their debts, he announced that a draft bill on how they would operate would be debated at Parliament soon.
Translated by John Crystallidis
 Skyrocketing Product Prices09 May 2008 16:21:00
The high oil prices have triggered hikes in product and services prices. The Greek Finance Ministry is trying to put a stop to imported inflation.
The opposition parties have blamed the Government for being unable to control the situation. The knock-on increases in dozens of everyday products have forced consumers to spend a lot. Press reports have suggested that the Greek products are 33% cheaper in European states than in Greece.
Asked on the matter, Deputy Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that some press reports touch on unquestionable matters, noting that some products are expensive.
Antonaros spoke of a package of measures and initiatives meant to limit repercussions from externalities that affect prices. Increases in oil prices, added Antonaros, the unprecedented prices in agricultural row material, like cereal, are beyond prediction
"Inspection authorities are being beefed up in a manner manifesting the Governments crystal clear will to do anything in its power so that prices that result from profiteering and other unacceptable reasons can be addressed," noted he.
Drilled to comment on the fact that Conservative deputies also question the efficiency of the Governments measures, Antonaros, after noting that high prices are unquestionable and in some cases unjustifiable, stressed that the inspection bodies do their job properly.
Translated by Areti Christou
 Debate over OTE Sale09 May 2008 12:09:00
By Athina Saloustrou
Greeces Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis will brief the House when and if the talks on OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) conclude and the relevant agreement will not take effect unless it is ratified by the House, replied Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis to an interpellation filed by SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left). Alogoskoufis stressed that the responsibility for national security, labour talks and price increases will lie with the state, while it will have the right to name the Organisations head. He then went on to blast the opposition parties for adhering to a third-world-like policy, since, as he said, OTEs nationalization demands at least 2 billion and 300 hundred euros. Alekos Alavanos, head of SYRIZAs parliamentary group, answered in German, claiming that the Finance Minister cannot understand the language used in the talks with Deutsche Telekom and blamed the Prime Minister for walking out of the House out of guilt, because the deal pursued is colonial-spirited. "There will be absolute balance within OTEs board," Transport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told NET television. He also referred to Greeces veto rights and to the price policy. Socialist deputy Vasso Papandreou, on the other hand, told NET radio station that the Government does not have a telecommunications policy. Instead it is merely trying to close some holes, she claimed.
Translated by Areti Christou
 Week of Industrial Mobilizations09 May 2008 15:45:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ 105.8
GSEE and ADEDY have announced a strike mobilization on May, 15 in protest against privatizations (OTE and ports), income policy and collective labor contracts. OTE employees and port workers are staging a 24-hour strike while employees in the public sector, DEH, EYDAP, Olympic Airways and ELTA are staging a 3-hour work stoppage.
In the meantime, taxi-owners are staging a nationwide strike on Monday, May, 12 demanding over 5% rise in fares. The Transport Ministry has already announced 5% rise in taxi fares to take effect on May, 19. Lorry owners, who are staging a strike since the beginning of the week, are planning to continue indefinitely. Among their demands is rise in fares and lift of Friday afternoon ban from national roads.
Translated by Chrisanthi Sarantis
 "State Universities Need a Shock"Wrangling over Education Matters
09 May 2008 15:00:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ 105.8
In his speech at the dinner hosted in honour of the President of Yale University, Greek Education Minister Evrypidis Stylianides highlighted the need for a strong shock to state Universities capable of abolishing the current problematic situation. "The revision of Article 16 of the Constitution will be a shock that will activate the healthy powers of the state University," claimed Stylianides, who dropped hints against PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement), which has walked out of the debated on the constitutional revision. Stylianides said that although spending on universities has increased, several problems still remain. The establishment of non-state universities could, claimed the Education Minister, inspire competition incentives to state Universities.
Reactions to Stylianides' Statements
The Education Ministers statements prompted strong reactions by the opposition parties. PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) deputy and section head for education matters Anna Diamantopoulou stressed, "The challenge for Greece is a bold and integrated reform that will promote development. A government and a minister that do not want to and cant propose solution are dangerous."
KKE (Greek Communist Party) spoke of an "unprecedented delirium in favour of the universities businessmen want." "The Ministers speech has revealed the Governments aspiration to implement the framework law at any cost," read an announcement issued by KKE.
SYN (Coalition of the Left) official Andreas Karytzis dismissed Stylianides statements as unacceptable. "It is obvious that Mr Stylianides cannot hide his irritation over the fact that the plans to have Article 16 revised collapsed after the actions taken by the student and university community." Karytzis blasted the Government for systematically degrading state education to make room for a degree trading. He added that the education movement will address challenges with new struggles.
 EFET Inspections in Full SwingInvestigation into Adulterated Sunflower Oil
09 May 2008 14:28:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ 105.8
A preliminary investigation into the circumstances under which a batch of sunflower oil blended with mineral oil was imported in Greece has been ordered by Athens First Instance Prosecutor Panagiotis Poulios. The Prosecutor will examine how the Ukrainian sunflower oil was imported in Greece and whether public health was under threat and the Food Code was violated.
In the meantime, intensive inspections are underway to locate more quantities of the health-hazardous sunflower oil. Most batches have been confiscated, said the Government.
Socialist section head for development Mihalis Chrysohoidis blasted the Government for slow response. "The new food scare that broke out in Greece proves the inefficiency of the inspection authorities and the Governments responsibility, whose silence has prompted several questions over the dimensions of the crisis," said Chrysohoidis.
 Environment Ministry in 1.5 Year's Time09 May 2008 13:15:00
By Athina Saloustrou
The establishment of a separate Environment Ministry will come into being in about one and a half years time, said Friday morning Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, while visiting metro extension works. Drilled on the subject, he said: "I have briefed the House on that since last November and I have also introduced the timelines. The matter is being studied." Souflias appeared really satisfied over the extensions of metro line 2 to Anthoupolis and line 3 to Haidari, which will be given to public in late 2009.
He also said that the tender for the extension of line 3 from Haidari to Piraeus will have been concluded by the end of the year and should there be no objections, works will commence. He then went on to add that the procedures for the construction of line V from Panepistimiou Street, central Athens, to Galatsi have been underway and that the he will soon propose the funding of the work in the inner Cabinet.