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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Alogoskoufis: No surprises ahead in social insurance
  • [02] Bear population in western Macedonia nears 70

  • [01] Alogoskoufis: No surprises ahead in social insurance

    National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday assured that there would be no "surprises" for anyone with respect to reforms planned in the social insurance sector, during a meeting between representatives of the European Union and all the Greek ministries taking place at the Zappion press centre on issues pertaining to the Lisbon Agenda.

    In his opening address, Alogoskoufis said that the social insurance situation in Greece will be evaluated, adding that the main opposition PASOK party was assisting in the dialogue on the sector, while next week employment minister Savvas Tsitouridis would meet with representatives of the social partners.

    The European Commission representatives were also briefed by Alogoskoufis on the course to be followed for reform of the social insurance sector.

    A signifcant role will be played by Greece's economic and social committee (OKE-Greece), which will report also to the Greek parliament and the partners, while the necessary conclusions on the reform will be drafted, and a secretariat on social insurance will be set up, with an IT system, at the employment ministry.

    Turning to economic developments, Alogoskoufis said that despite the adverse developments in oil prices, Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 3.7 percent in 2005 and the deficit fell to 4.5 percent from 6.9 percent in 2004, while state expenditures, as a proportion of GDP, also declined substantially, from 48.2 percentage points in 2004 to 45.4 percentage points in 2005, while there would be a further reduction in 2006, targetted at 44.7 percentage points.

    Unemployment and inflation rates also declined in 2005, compounded by an increase in business competitiveness as well as the competitiveness of the Greek economy, which improved by seven positions between 2004 and 2005, Alogoskoufis added.

    According to the Swiss-based IMD International Competitiveness CenterÔs annual world competitiveness report released in May, Greece improved its competitiveness ranking for 2006, climbing to 42nd from 50th place in 2005 among 61 countries and regions. The country recorded improvements in the government efficiency index (climbing from 52nd to 46th place), business efficiency (to 47th from 49th place) and infrastructure (to 33rd from 37th place).

    Further, Alogoskoufis continued, exports rose by 13 percent in 2005, while the increase in the first quarter of 2006 climbed to 22.8 percent, with a positive impact on growth, while measures were also being taken to combat tax evasion, and bureaucracy was being reduced.

    However, "we still have a long way ahead of us", Alogoskoufis said. He also spoke of transparency in the priority actions and increasing awareness on the benefits.

    The Commission officials expressed their satisfaction with the reduction of the state deficit, and lauded the Greek government's recent decision to set up an Observatory for the Lisbon Agenda.

    They also explained that the purpose of their visit here was to exchange views with the Greek side, adding that the opportunities airising from the economic growth must be taken advantage of.

    The EU representatives further said they were interested in the briefing of the citizens on the course of the Agenda.

    The aim of the Lisbon Agenda is to lead to an economic, social and environmental renewal within the European Union by 2010, in order to adapt to a rapidly changing world. In March 2000, the EU summit in Lisbon approved a ten-year Strategy intended to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world, with stronger growth, creating jobs and favouring social and environmental policies leading to sustainable development and greater social cohesion.

    [02] Bear population in western Macedonia nears 70

    The bear population in the mountainous western part of Macedonia province is around 70 animals, making up a third of the total number of bears living in the east Mediterranean country, a disheartening figure highlighted by environmentalists amid a continuing debate about the activity of the large carnivores near populated areas during the summer months.

    Additionally, a total 10 attacks on livestock and 3-4 attacks on humans were recorded during the summer months last year, whereas the "Arktouros" group for the protection of bears underlined that shooting the bears is not a solution, calling instead on stockbreeders to protect their herds by installing electrified cables around pens.

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