Jumat, 23 Maret 2012

April is just around the corner and still no date for the elections have been set - and the parties are getting itchy !

Elections dominate PM’s talks with party chiefs

 Communist Party leader calls for snap polls without delay, SYRIZA chief expected to do the same
Speculation about when early elections will be held mounted on Friday as Prime Minister Lucas Papademos held talks with Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga ahead of a scheduled meeting with the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras later in the day.
Speaking outside the Maximos Mansion shortly after 1 p.m., Papariga said Papademos had told her the proposed date for snap polls would not be more specific when pressed, referring reporters to “the dates being mentioned in the media,” namely April 29 and May 6. The Communist party leader said she was in favor of polls being held as soon possible, noting that in the meantime the current government was “pushing through a raft of reforms that go against the interests of the people.”
Papademos, who earlier this week spoke to conservative New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras and the new chief of Socialist PASOK Evangelos Venizelos, was to meet with Tsipras at 4 p.m. on Friday. The premier has said that the date of snap polls will be announced next week.
In an interview with private television channel ANT1 on Thursday, Samaras said that ND favors elections on April 29.


Samaras blasts 'arrogant' left
23 Mar 2012
Antonis Samaras (file photo)
Antonis Samaras (file photo)
Antonis Samaras has launched a blunt attack on "arrogant" leftwing parties, in an early campaign assault after a disappointing showing in opinion polls.
"The Left doesn't want to anything change, it wants the country to go down and to speculate on people's despair," the New Democracy leader told Antenna television on Wednesday.
"In Greece, the Left has grown up arrogant, fed by their supposed ideological superiority. That time is over. From now on, what interests us is that people understand that parties which remain permanently out of power scream at whoever is in power. They are doomed to failure by their non-ideology and the lack of responsibility they display."
Pasok and New Democracy typically ignore leftwing parties during election campaigns, but the financial crisis has seen their popularity suffer badly in favour of parties opposed to troika rescue deals.
VPRC poll for the Epikaira news magazine published on Thursday gave New Democracy the lead, but with just 22.5 percent support, while three left-wing opposition parties polled a combined 36 percent.
Samaras said he wanted general elections to be held on April 29 or no later than May 6. (Athens News/gw)

and reforms seem to be hitting the wall...

Ministerial dispute over taxi bill

 Alternate Defense Minister Yiannis Ragousis, left, and Transport Minister Makis Voridis.
A bill liberalizing the taxi drivers’ sector has caused a major dispute in the ranks of the interim government headed by Lucas Papademos.
Alternate Defense Minister Yiannis Ragousis, who previously held the transport ministry portfolio, was the sole member of the Cabinet to vote against a draft bill which is expected to be submitted to Parliament in the near future.
Ragousis, who argued that the proposed reforms protect the narrow interests of certain groups, released a series of emails exhanged with the troika -- the European Union, the European Central Bank and the Intenational Monetary Fund – to prove that European and IMF officials had approved a previous draft bill carrying his signature.
Based on calculation taking into account population and environmental criteria, the new bill does not foresee fresh cab licenses in Attica, though new permits will be issued elsewhere around Greece. Licenses are also expected to be issued for vehicles seating five to eight people which will not carry meters.
Speaking on Skai on Friday, Ragousis spoke of the “politics of exception” and noted that the truck drivers will be up next with demands for their sector to be exempted from total liberalization.
Responding to Ragousis, Transport Minister Makis Voridis noted that the new bill’s basic principles have already been approved by the troika, adding that on an ethical level «it would be preferable to leave any discussion with the troika to the minister in charge.»
Also speaking on Skai on Friday, the general secretary of the SATA taxi owners’ union, Constantinos Dimos, said that the proposed draft bill will streamline Greek policy with the rest of Europe.


Gov't rift over cap on fuel consumption tax

 Development and Finance ministries at odds
By Chryssa Liaggou
An internal war has broken out within the government on the issue of a special consumption tax on fuel, as the Development and Finance ministries continue to fight over whether there should be a cap to the tax’s level given soaring prices. The average level of gasoline has risen to 1.80 euros per liter.
General Secretary for Trade Stefanos Komninos, who was the first to propose a tax cap, reiterated his position on Thursday despite the rejection by Finance Ministry officials. “The combination of lagging budget revenues and of general fiscal problems render impossible the reduction of the special consumption tax on fuel, at least for the time being,” the officials said.
Asked to comment on their statement, Komninos told reporters on Thursday that there is consensus with the Finance Ministry on the issue, with Deputy Development Minister Sokratis Xynidis proposing, among other measures, the reduction of the tax rate when the refinery prices of fuel go up.
“We are the Ministry for Development and we draft development policies. By raising taxes, you burden the country’s competitiveness, slow down its growth and have a serious impact on product demand and prices,” said Komninos. He added that fuel accounts for a significant share of prices in the market as “about 15 percent of consumer prices arise from logistics and product transport.”
In the effort to lower the fuel tax, the Development Ministry has the entire fuel market on its side, which is also calling for measures to bolster demand.
The union of gas station owners (POPEK) asked yesterday for the abolition of the system of “imposing a tax-on-tax, that is unique to Greece,” referring to the value-added tax on the special consumption tax. That should save consumers some 15-16 cents per liter and bolster consumption, as well as the state’s revenues, POPEK argued.

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