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Greek report Greek report
by Euro Reporter
2009-12-28 08:45:19
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Budget set for green light

Greece’s 2010 budget, which is aimed to start chipping away the country’s soaring deficit, was due to be passed through Parliament last night following further arguments between PASOK and New Democracy about who is to blame for the poor state of the economy. PASOK’s comfortable majority in the House (the Socialists hold 160 of the 300 seats) was expected to make the voting through of the budget a mere formality.

The centre-left government aims to reduce the public deficit from a runaway 12.7 percent of gross domestic product to 9.1 percent next year, although this would still be three times the euro zone limit. Ruling PASOK said that it would implement further cuts if possible to reduce the deficit to 8.7 percent before the end of the year. According to the budget submitted to Parliament, Greece will borrow 53 billion Euros next year and will pay almost 13 billion in interest payments to service its debt. Since the budget debate began last weekend, PASOK and ND have been at odds about which of the two mishandled the economy and how best to fix it.

Before the midnight vote, last night’s debate was due to culminate in speeches by the party leaders. The address of New Democracy President Antonis Samaras was expected with great anticipation, as sources indicated that he had changed his original stance, which was to only mildly criticize the government to one where he will be much more outspoken, accusing PASOK of not taking the crisis seriously enough. Earlier, Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis had accused ND of not being clear in its positions and highlighted the fact that conservative deputies are split on the actual size of the deficit, with many claiming that it is not as high as 12.7 percent of GDP, while others, including former Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, insisting that it is that high.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Louka Katseli underlined the importance of Greece getting its economy back on track and encouraging growth. “If we fail, our children will not be able to find jobs in five to 10 years’ time,” she said.


Officer is suspended after brawl in shop

Moments after Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said yesterday that the government would adopt a policy of zero tolerance toward violence “wherever it comes from,” it was announced that a police officer was suspended following allegations that he punched the owner of a store in central Athens while off duty.

In a statement, the police said that the officer, from the force’s instant-response unit, was involved in a fight with the store owner that led to the shop being damaged. The alleged victim then filed a suit against the unnamed officer. In an unrelated speech, Chrysochoidis said that a separate body to investigate claims of police misbehavior would be up and running by February and that disciplinary rules would soon be changed so that officers can be arrested on the spot for some offenses.


Police hunt SUV shooter

Police in Athens were yesterday looking for a black SUV with tinted windows after a vehicle matching this description was spotted at the scene of three apparently random shootings this week.
Officers believe that the same person shot all three victims even though there is no known link between them.

The first shootings occurred on Monday in Votanikos, near the city center, and Moschato, in southern Athens, when a Bulgarian man riding a bicycle was shot in the leg and a 57-year-old Greek man was struck in the chest.

A CCTV camera recorded the latter shooting but officers could not make out the details of the car. Also on Monday, the gunman, who witnesses said has long hair, is also suspected of trying to shoot a female pedestrian in Moschato but missing the target. On Tuesday night, a 47-year-old woman was shot in the stomach in the central district of Kolonos and was hospitalized with serious injuries.

P.S. Late last night the police arrested a young man for the shootings and is still questioned.

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