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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-26

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Urgent waste management for Attica discussed by PM, Athens mayor
  • [02] Papandreou pushes Prodi initiative against death penalty
  • [03] IMF heaps praise on Greek fiscal effort

  • [01] Urgent waste management for Attica discussed by PM, Athens mayor

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received newly sworn-in Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, the former health minister in the current government, with the paramount issue of integrated waste management for the greater Athens area dominating the meeting.

    After the meeting, Kaklamanis said they had discussed issues that concerned Athens and local authorities in general, such as local authority funding and finances, payment of a tax on beer and an increase in annual subsidies to local government from the state budget from 5% to 7%.

    According to the new Athens mayor, Karamanlis backed proposals on waste management and on local government finances, promising to discuss them with the new leadership that will emerge after elections for a new Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) board of directors in April.

    Asked if he would run for KEDKE's presidency, meanwhile, Kaklamanis said that the issue was premature.

    Regarding the Greek capital, in particular, Kaklamanis said he had asked that funds be immediately set aside in the budget for continuing the "Help at Home" programme that ends in May, as well as the transfer of funds currently managed by the environment ministry for the maintenance of drainage networks in Attica prefecture (the greater Athens area) to municipal authorities, who take over responsibility for keeping them unobstructed at the start of 2008.

    Kaklamanis, a radiologist by training and former state hospital department head, also briefed the prime minister on the progress of a twin redevelopment project in the district (Votanikos) surrounding the new football stadium and indoor arena for the Athens sports club Panathinaikos.

    Answering questions on the city's waste management woes, Kaklamanis said that a decision from Greece's supreme administrative court, the Council of State, was imminent regarding the creation of a new landfill site in the Grammatiko township (extreme northern Attica prefecture), while decisions were still pending regarding planned landfills in Fyli, north of Athens proper and below Mt. Parnitha, as well as Keratea, in eastern Attica prefecture.

    Until that time, he added, work would go ahead on a temporary landfill site. The mayor stressed that this was a huge expense but that there was no other choice, while noting that he had asked the premier to hasten construction of waste processing plants in the government's next four-year term.

    The City of Athens is the largest municipality and the most populous in the greater Athens area or Attica prefecture, which includes more than three dozen municipalities and hosts roughly half of the country's population and nearly two-thirds of Greece's economic output.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, left, is greeted by then health minister Nikitas Kaklamanis outside the ministry in this file photo dated Thursday, May 19, 2005. ANA-MPA / P. Saitas.

    [02] Papandreou pushes Prodi initiative against death penalty

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, in his capacity as president of the Socialist International (SI), on Friday addressed letters to the leaders of SI's member-parties requesting their active support of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's initiative to abolish the death penalty world-wide.

    Papandreou said support for the initiative, within the framework of the United Nations, aims at achieving a suspension of capital punishment in every country ahead of an eventual global ban.

    "A democratic society must recognise the right to life as the first and foremost human right. This is a fundamental value. The death penalty has no place in democratic societies, regardless of any circumstances. Governments and judicial systems must struggle for justice instead of revenge..." Papandreou stated in his letter, while adding:

    "As long as human justice continues to be fallible, the danger of an innocent individual being executed cannot be eliminated."

    The PASOK and SI leader also reminded that more than half the countries in the world have already, in practice, abolished the death penalty, "but complete elimination remains an unending objective".

    Caption: SI President George Papandreou. ANA-MPA file photo.

    [03] IMF heaps praise on Greek fiscal effort

    The Greek government has achieved significant progress in its fiscal consolidation effort in the period 2005-2006 although further deficit cuts are needed, primarily to prepare the country for higher social insurance spending in the future due to an ageing population in the country, the International Monetary Fund said in a report on the Greek economy.

    The report recommends that Greece present balanced budgets in the period 2010-2012 and surplus budgets afterwards.

    Greece‚s growth rate - remaining strong for several years - is expected to remain above the EU average rate, further closing a gap in living standards between Greece and its west European partners. The IMF said the country‚s GDP grew 4.1 pct in 2006 and predicted a slight slowdown to 3.8 pct this year due to lower demand and noted risks of further slowdown in the coming years.

    The IMF praised a sharp reduction of the fiscal deficit (below 3.0 pct) in 2006 but noted that the Greek economy developed certain vulnerable spots, such as very high credit expansion, persistent inflationary pressure, lower competitiveness and excessive current accounts deficit.

    The report underlined the need to reform the country‚s pension system. Referring to the Greek banking system, the report said it was generally healthy but recommended that the Bank of Greece be alerted over any over-extended debt burden by Greek households.

    Combating tax evasion, reducing red tape, improving efficiency in public enterprises, expanding privatisation, further deregulating markets and more flexible labour markets were top reform priorities for the government, the IMF said.

    Caption: A file photo shows a recent IMF conference in Singapore. ANA-EPA photo.


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