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Economist Joseph Stiglitz to visit Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz is invited to participate at an open debate, titled “Discussion and debate with Joseph Stiglitz: in or out of the economic crisis?,” organized by the Economist and Hazlis & Rivas conferences, on February 2. 
Prime Minister George Papandreou will inaugurate the conference with an opening address, focusing on the government’s effort to fulfil the twin aim of monetary restructuring and growth.
Ministers, the leader of the opposition New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras as well as representatives of business associations will also participate at the conference.
Meanwhile, Stiglitz has contributed an article (January 25) in the ‘Comment is Free’ section of The Guardian, under the title “A principled Europe would not leave Greece to bleed,” urging Europe to show support for the honesty and integrity of Greece’s government and its efforts not only to bring the budget under control, but to increase transparency of the entire budgetary framework and to reduce corruption.

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The Stability Programme was submitted

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The cabinet met yesterday  to approve the updated Stability and Growth Programme (SGP) 2008-2011, which was submitted today (15.1) to the European Commission in Brussels.

“We will achieve fiscal consolidation within three years. […] We can do it; this target is feasible,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The premier added that the Stability and Growth Programme does not contain immediate fiscal adjustment measures only, but also a substantial part of the plan for the restructuring of the country.
On his part, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed that the deficit would definitely be cut, as Greece’s economy is expected to expand in the coming next years.
“The Programme was prepared with the decisive involvement of all ministries and it will be implemented through team-work,” said Papaconstantinou.
Kathimerini Daily: Cabinet stands by recovery plan; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Update of the Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2008-2011

PM George Papandreou: Economic crisis “a crucial national threat”

 

 (GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Sunday, termed the economic and monetary crisis “a crucial national threat”.    Papandreou, however, expressed optimism over the favourable outcome of the struggle being waged by the government, calling on all Greeks and the mass media in particular to say “no to panic .”
The major changes that have been scheduled for 2010, which he termed a year of great changes and reforms, must be turned into practice as a precondition for this.
The prime minister made a positive assessment of the first 100 days of the country’s governance which, as he said, “we assumed in a deep and multifaceted crisis with a large size debt and deficits that were bequeathed to us by the previous government.”
He added that the economy alone was not at the root of problems, but the country’s way of governance as well.
Papandreou further said that during the first 100 days the “government stood at the level of its historical responsibility which is to have the citizen as its first concern,” adding that apart from changes in regional administration, great reforms and changes are also required in central administration.
He stressed that the changes will meet with great resistances but expressed certainty that they will have the approval of the Greek people.
Papandreou said that at the end of the coming week the stability and growth programme will be announced, as well as the proposals for government and legislative work that will be following in the near future.
He said he would be giving a press conference at the Zappion Mansion in the middle of the week and would be announcing the main conclusions on governance so far and priorities for the coming period, while calling on ministers to do the same in their field of responsibility.
 The prime minister also announced the creation of a “prestigious advisory committee” on the modernisation and operation of the government and institutional bodies with the principle “the citizen first” always being the target.
He stressed that the new architecture of self administration is part of the government’s overall planning so that on November 14, 2010, local administration elections will be held for the new strong municipalities and the regions.
Papandreou added that the “implementation of the great vision of the world of local administration will begin,” terming this task extremely difficult and for which the consent of all is required and that the government shall seek.
He further pointed out that resources for local administration will be secured in the framework of taxation policy and added that with the electoral law which will be voted in Parliament “a decisive blow will be dealt at black political money”.
Papandreou also referred to the government’s struggle for transparency and expressed satisfaction for the positive response met by his initiative to request from the President of the Republic to convene a meeting of party leaders.
Lastly, the prime minister also referred to the bomb attack that occurred in front of the Parliament building on Saturday, stressing that “no one and with no action can intimidate the country’s political world” and underlined that “we are not going to let such an action pass like this.”

Greece in ECOFIN: Adding Numbers Up

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou participated at the European Council Economic and Financial Affairs meeting in Luxemburg (October 19-20).  The minister acknowledged that the budget deficit for 2009 will creep up to 12.5% of GDP, a figure which has been also confirmed by the Bank of Greece.  One third of this significant increase can be attributed to the economic crisis – GDP contracted by 1.5%, investment dropped by 20%, tourism by 15% and shipping revenue by 20%.  The rest can be equally attributed to expenditure excesses, as well as the revision of the way by which the deficit is measured.  Papaconstantinou is ready to negotiate a three-year extension for deficit curbing with the possibility of a further one-year extension.  “The first step is to decrease the deficit to a single digit figure” for 2010, said the minister. The government has pledged to present the Commission with a revised three-year Stability and Growth Programme (2008-2011).Thirteen out of sixteen countries of the eurozone will be put under EU deficit supervision. The European Commission estimates that public finances for all eurozone members will begin to recover by 2011 at the latest.  European Commission: Driving the European Recovery 

Greek Economy Grew in 2008

(THE GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The Greek economy grew by 3.0% in 2008, down from 4.0% in 2007, according to provisional figures published by the National Statistics Service on Friday (13.2.2009). In its report, the statistics service said that the economic growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2008 was 2.6%, down from 2.9% in the previous quarter, while on a quarterly base, the economic growth rate in the October-December period was 0.3%, slightly lower than 0.5% in the third quarter. The statistical service attributed the slowdown in the growth rate to a significant decline in investments, mainly because of a major decrease in building activity in the country, while consumption fell strongly as a result of limited credit expansion to households. The finance ministry, in an updated Stability and Growth programme [PDF] submitted to the European Union, envisages a growth rate of National Statistics Service1.1% this year. Furthermore, the European agency Eurostat also said on Friday that the Greek economy grew by 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2008. It reported that Greece, Slovakia (2.7 pct), Czech Republic (1.0 pct) and Austria (0.5 pct) were the only EU member-states with positive growth rates.  Eurostat: News Release – Euroindicators  (13.2.2009)

Greece: Updated Stability & Growth Programme

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis chaired a meeting on Friday (30.1) of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Economy, which discussed the updated three-year stability programme that was later submitted to the EU. Presenting the updated Stability and Growth programme for the period 2008-2011, Economy and Finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stressed that Greece is expected to be one of the five eurozone member-states to achieve positive economic growth rates in 2009. According to the programme, the fiscal deficit would be 3.7% in 2008 and 2009, falling to 3.2% in 2010 and 2.6% in 2011. The economy is expected to grow by 1.1% this year, 1.6% in 2010, reaching 2.3% in 2011, while employment is expected to grow by 0.2% this year and by 0.6% and 0.7% in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Unemployment is expected to grow from 7.5% in 2008 to 8.0% this year and to remain at this level until 2011, before beginning to fall. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Updated Stability and Growth Programme for 2008-11 (in Greek) & Fact Sheets

Greece: Stable Outlook for the Economy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Recently appointed Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou on Wednesday defended the government’s economic policy, saying it remained committed to reducing the budget deficit to below 3%, but not at the expense of social cohesion in the country. Commenting on a decision by Standard & Poor’s rating agency to downgrade Greece’s credit rating to A-/A-2 with a stable outlook from A-/A-1, the minister said: “The main reason why Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country is that Greece faces an international financial crisis with high public debt and fiscal deficit. I would like to note, however, that the public debt has fallen to 93% of GDP, down from 100% in 2004, and that the fiscal deficit has been cut significantly from 7.5% of GDP in 2004.  He added that the deficit remains at high levels because of the government’s decision to place the real economy as a top priority, but that it is to the country’s benefit to gradually cut the deficit below 3.0%. “And this will happen with a plan without leaving behind the need for social cohesion. That’s exactly what we will seek with our updated Stability and Growth Programme which we will present by the end of month.”  Athens News Agency: FinMin defends economic policy; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Economic and Financial Data for Greece &  Hellenic Stability & Growth Programme 2007-2010 (December 2007)