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Greek report Greek report
by Euro Reporter
2008-01-14 09:47:24
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A Dilemma

Greece’s leading transport experts are divided over whether politicians should risk unpopularity and introduce congestion charges in cities that suffer traffic problems. A professor has said that any “political cost” for introducing the system, which involves charging drivers entering city centers with their vehicles, would turn into a “political dividend” in the future. “It is an unpopular move and will be a very difficult political decision.”

However, Yiannis Frantzeskakis of the National Technical University of Athens, believes that other, more basic, measures should be introduced. “We should try to avoid spending the precious time of transport engineers on analyses and decisions for the future that are of no use for the time being when there are actions yet to be taken that could have a tangible impact,” he said.

A number of cities in Europe, such as London, Stockholm, Berlin and Cologne have already implemented congestion charging schemes. Frantzeskakis identified a clampdown on parking as one way of reducing the number of cars that enter city centers. He said some 30,000 cars park for free in the center of Athens each day, thereby encouraging drivers to use their vehicles.

It was revealed this week that the City of Athens plans to extend its pay-and-display scheme by spring. The head of the Greek Institute of Transport Engineers, Yiannis Handanos, said that any government which decides to introduce congestion charging will have to first educate the public and adopt “a consistent transport policy.”

Something must be done for the traffic and as a result of traffic the pollution that has harmed Athens for so many decades now. Despite all the announcements it seems that Athenians prefer to go around in their car instead of using the much modernized, after the Olympics, public transportation; and if that’s so good they can pay it!

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Parent protest

Parents gathered outside a high school in Larissa, central Greece, and yesterday and blocked off traffic for about 30 minutes to protest a delay in the removal of asbestos from a school building. Authorities had promised parents the asbestos would be removed before classes resumed last week but work has yet to start on the project.

A company that applied for the asbestos removal project has appealed the decision to award the contract to one of its competitors, resulting in the delay. Parents have sought intervention from the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court.

The funny thing is that in a lot of states in central and north Europe this issue has been over for more than two decades now, asbestos has been removed from all public buildings since the beginning of 90s.

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Bond trade

The volume of Greek government debt traded on the central bank's electronic system (HDAT) fell to 21.36 billion euros ($58.9 billion) in December from 40.35 billion in November, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. Attributing the drop to slower trading during the Christmas holiday period, the central bank said daily average turnover in December fell to 1.12 billion euros from 1.83 billion in the previous month. Greek government bond yields rose in December, particularly on the 5- and 10-year segment of the curve, in line with the performance seen in the rest of the Eurozone.

Greece's yield curve flattened as the difference between the 30- and 3-year bond yields narrowed to 84 basis points from 91 in the previous month.

    
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