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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-04

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis: 2007 to consolidate, widen gains; PM briefed by ministers on Thurs.
  • [02] Minister on cartel charges in local fuel market

  • [01] Karamanlis: 2007 to consolidate, widen gains; PM briefed by ministers on Thurs.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday evening emphasised that the coming year was a time to consolidate and widen policy gains achieved by his government since March 2004.

    "Resoluteness is required to continue with the changes and reform that have been proven to bring favourable results for all," the premier told reporters before a reception held by the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry.

    "In 2006 and in a difficult global environment, we succeeded in significantly lowering deficits, maintaining one of the highest growth rates in the European Union, strengthening competitiveness, lowering unemployment and boosting exports," he said.

    "We also succeeded in bringing back foreign investors to Greece," Karamanlis noted.

    On his part, Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis stressed that "reforms are starting to pay off, but our endeavour must continue in order to seek what is better, not merely what is good.?

    On his part, central bank governor Nikos Garganas cited a favourable outlook for the economy, although an inflation target should be below 2 percent.

    Tsitouridis

    On Thursday, Karamanlis met with Employment and Social Insurances Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, as the latter briefed the premier on initiatives undertaken by the ministry as well as its legislative agenda during 2007.

    Afterwards, Tsitouridis said that a social solidarity fund will be created to assist the unemployed in problematic regions and sectors. He also reminded that three state-controlled social security funds (TEBE, TSA and the merchants' fund), with a total of 1.8 million contributing members and pensioners, merged on Tuesday, a move he said was pending since 1999.

    Among the ministry's priorities for 2007 is curbing the extent of contribution evasion, while Tsitouridis added that 2007 will be a year targeting unemployment, particularly joblessness plaguing younger adults.

    Alogoskoufis

    During a separate meeting, Karamanlis received Alogoskoufis, with the latter telling reporters afterwards that discussions focused on priorities for the coming year.

    The tidying up of the state's finances, implementation of reforms and efforts aimed to better support lower-income groups were also discussed, he said.

    Caption: Karamanlis, left, arrives at the chamber event at a downtown Athens hotel on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007, accompanied by EBEA president Constantinos Mihalos. ANA-MPA photo / M. Marogianni.

    [02] Minister on cartel charges in local fuel market

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas at the presidential mansion in Athens on Thursday, with the latter later telling reporters that, among others, he briefed Papoulias on progress to finally commence construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

    Sioufas, who holds the energy portfolio as development minister, said Athens is in agreement with both the Russian and Bulgarian sides on practically all points, adding however, that there are two issues that are "approached differently" by Moscow and Sofia.

    He nevertheless expressed certainty that any final obstacles will be overcome within a matter of days, thus allowing the three sides to proceed quickly with the signing of a final agreement so that construction begins on the oft-delayed project -- a pipeline connecting the Black Sea with the northern Aegean on the drawing board since the mid 1990s.

    Regarding a domestic energy matter, namely, charges of oligopolistic and cartel-like practices in the fuel market, Sioufas said a high-profile Competition Commission report, unveiled a day earlier, aims to identify problems and to significantly increase competitiveness in the sector.

    Regarding fuel prices specifically, Sioufas pointed out that despite the fact that international oil prices rose more than 90 percent, prices in Greece recorded an increase of 25 percent. He also reminded that unleaded petrol in Greece is 21 percent lower compared to 15 EU member-states.

    Finally, he stressed that 2007 will be even better for Greek households and the business world, particularly in the country's provinces.


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