Low income groups, jobless likely to get boost from state plan

The government is likely tomorrow to unveil steps aimed at helping protect low income earners and the long-term unemployed from the impact of the global financial crisis, sources said yesterday. The steps were discussed at a Cabinet meeting yesterday which weighed the impact the slowdown was having on domestic growth and jobs. «We must not overlook the fact that in the rest of Europe there are already signs of recession affecting many countries,» said Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis after the Cabinet meeting. «We must be on standby and show flexibility.» Among the measures likely to be announced by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Parliament tommorrow is an increase in the amount and duration of the benefit paid to Greece’s long-term unemployed. Strong economic growth in recent years has helped Greece lower its unemployment rate. In July this year, the country’s jobless figure fell to 7 percent from just over 10 percent in July 2004. However, concerns are mounting that unemployment figures will jump as the economy has started to lose momentum on weaker consumption and investment activity. Sources said the conservative government is also looking into offering a one-off payment to pensioners receiving minimum amounts and offering businesses incentives to up staff levels. The steps come ahead of a plan being prepared by the European Commission to help mitigate the impact of the financial crisis on the broader economy of European Union member states. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said yesterday the EU’s executive arm would roll out a «comprehensive European Union recovery plan» on November 26.

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