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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-12-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Commissioner Hahn gives Greece high marks for NSRF absorption rate
  • [02] PM Samaras on health reform: 'Greece must stop wasting funds'

  • [01] Commissioner Hahn gives Greece high marks for NSRF absorption rate

    Greece has more than met its targets in European Union fund absorption and is improving constantly, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said on Thursday after meeting with Development and Competition Minister Costis Hatzidakis.

    "It is outstanding, in terms of the reputation, name and image of the country, the fact that in the present circumstances the rate of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds is constantly improving - that Greece, in other words, from what it appears, has exceeded the targets set within the framework of the (loan) memorandum," Hahn said.

    Hahn also congatulated the minister and the Greek government for the programme they submitted two days ago covering the next NSRF funding session (2014-2020), "which truly follows the outlines we discussed in the past," he said. The programme, he noted, gives emphasis to strengthening regional policy, meaning that all 13 of Greece's districts will have their own business programmes. "Until recently, only 22 percent of the funding related to regions, but now this amount will rise to 35 percent," he said.

    "Yesterday I was on Crete, where I saw that the regional manager, who does not belong to the same party, nevertheless expressed his thanks to the minister for the initiative undertaken, which proves that there truly is progress," said Hahn, who is paying visits to Greek regions to brief them about the new programme and review ongoing works.

    The commissioner said that Greece's absorption rate could serve as an example to other eurozone countries: "If we classify countries according to their performance on issues of EU fund absorption, Greece would be classified fourth, which means it is by far much higher than the average of the European Union."

    Hatzidakis said among other things that the major roadworks contracts, approved by Parliament, would contribute to the absorption rates and added that the new NSRF programme presented by the government is different than the current one in that it focuses on entrepreneurship and on social cohesion actions.

    [02] PM Samaras on health reform: 'Greece must stop wasting funds'

    Changes in the health sector are not done for financial reasons alone, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday during his address at a high-level conference on "Greek Reforms in the Health Sector: Improving Citizens' Health," organised by the Ministry of Health at the Athens Concert Hall.

    "Greece must stop wasting funds and the country must stop being paralysed by deficits," Samaras said, noting that "we had the highest expenditures in the health sector, while citizens were constantly being asked to pay out of pocket more and more. We have the highest number of private doctors' offices and yet everyone went to hospitals (for care). We have a lot of doctors, but citizens had to wait for months to get an appointment with a doctor. We have more MRIs done than the United States."

    "It was a distorted system which needed a sweeping reform," the premier said, which "we are determined to carry through."

    The reform "should have occurred years ago," Samaras noted. "It is not happening now because the troika (of lenders) has asked for it. We had to do it (anyway). Speaking of the National Health System (ESY), the premier said that "this giant with feet of clay must at last stand on its own two feet. There will be decentralisation, with every Greek having his or her doctor, as close to their home as possible...In all things we can disagree but in health, there is no room for disagreement among parties or for communication ploys."

    Earlier in the day, the government's Administrative Reform Council approved a report restructuring the health sector, changing the role of the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) and introducing round-the-clock health service.

    The basic restructuring will turn EOPYY into an agency procuring health services, turning all health service provision over to ESY, the National Health System. EOPYY will then operate under a central authority and as a single funding source that may have branches in seven regions to be determined. As such, it will be responsible for demanding and acquiring the most advantageous contracts, the report said.

    The changes will allow for improved primary health services to the public that will be available 24 hours each day, throughout the week, not from Monday to Friday and on a limited schedule, as they are today.

    Although details were not provided, the proposal said that the changes would do away with double services and superfluous units that operate while shortages are creating problems of available service, such as the institution of the family doctor, which it hopes to reintroduce.

    The report also included suggestions that doctors become full-time work at primary health service centre, but no specific provisions were included about their transfer from EOPYY to ESY.

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