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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Moody's upgrades Greek rating to positive
  • [02] Initial debate on revising Article XVI concludes
  • [03] Gov't pushes for faster OTE privatisation

  • [01] Moody's upgrades Greek rating to positive

    Moody's Investors Service on Thursday apparently "rewarded" the Greek government's efforts to rein in the country's fiscal condition and to boost economic growth, announcing that it was upgrading the outlook of Greek state bonds to positive from stable and offering a credit rating of A1.

    The international credit rating agency predicted that the Greek economy would sustain strong economic growth over the medium term, thanks to an expected increase in investment and productivity, while fiscal consolidation will continue to help cut public debt.

    "Real GDP growth should be around 3.9 pct in 2006. Greece's GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis is expected to reach 80 percent of the EU-15 average in 2008 against 77.2 pct in 2005 and 64.3 pct in 1998," Sara Bertin, a Moody's vice-president and senior analyst said in a statement. "Growth should remain unabated over the medium term due to a pick-up in investment and productivity gains," she added.

    Bertin noted that the country's fiscal debt was reducing as the government "successfully controlled spending and raising tax proceeds".

    Moody's said it would continue to monitor the government's commitment towards fiscal consolidation, improving competitiveness and reforming the pension system. The credit rating agency also predicted that significant reforms would be made in the pension system, starting 2008.

    Commenting on the next general election in Greece, Moody's analysts noted that "the government elected in 2004 has shown its strong commitment to widespread reform of labour and product markets," and added that they "do no anticipate that the next elections, due to take place in the autumn of 2007 or spring 2008, will lead to any drastic changes in policy".

    Caption: A representative of the Athens Stock Exchange gives the last ring of the bell in front of the general index board in this file photo dated Friday 30 March 2001. ANA-MPA / EPA photo / PETROS GIANNAKOURIS

    [02] Initial debate on revising Article XVI concludes

    A parliamentary ad hoc commitee on the revision of the constitution concluded its debate Wednesday evening on revising Article XVI so as to allow non-state, non-profit universities to be established in Greece. At present, the article mandates that all higher education institutions in the country must belong to the state sector.

    Ruling New Democracy rapporteur Panos Panagiotopoulos urged main opposition PASOK MPs to vote in favour of revising Article XVI, pointing out that the revision had been steadfastly supported by main opposition PASOK president George Papandreou.

    He also spoke of a "de facto" privatisation of universities by "closed shops" tactics guided by partisan bureaucracies.

    A rapporteur for the main opposition underlined what he said were the differences between PASOK and ND, saying that the latter sought to create a situation where private and state-sector universities operated competitively, with state universities under stringent control from the education ministry, whereas PASOK saw the two operating to complement one another.

    Communisty Party of Greece (KKE) MP Antonis Skyllakos said both the main parties were thinking along market-oriented lines that would prove harmful to education and that the problems in education were caused not by the state-sector monopoly but by the policies being followed.

    According to the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) rapporteur Fotis Kouvelis, both the main parties aimed to abolish the state-sector status of education.

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday described education as a "national issue on which there must be a broad consensus", during meetings with education minister Marietta Yiannakou, and with the presidium of the university professors‚ federation.

    At the same time, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reiterated his determination for reforms in the education sector to proceed through consensus and dialogue, and without hasty moves, during a meeting on Wednesday with the chairman of parliament's standing committee on educational affairs, MP (ruling ND party) Tassos Spiliopoulos.

    Meanwhile, various education sector unions held a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, with rallies in Athens and other major cities throughout the country also held.

    [03] Gov't pushes for faster OTE privatisation

    The Greek government is accelerating procedures to find a strategic partner for state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and the group of advisers picked by the government for the privatisation initiative, Liapis said the two ministers asked advisers to speed up efforts in search of a strategic partner, especially from the international market, to participate in the telephony utility's management. Specific proposals were requested by the end of February.

    The government's aim is to find a major partner that will invest capital and know-how, since "our goal is to offer Greek consumers cheaper and higher quality telecommunication services," Liapis said.

    He did not elaborate on whether any European telecoms have expressed interest in OTE, while Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis confirmed that contacts with foreign firms have taken place.

    Caption: FinMin George Alogoskoufis. ANA-MPA photo

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