NEWS

Target — ‘a genuinely social and humane State’

A separate section of the reform program announced by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Thessaloniki refers to «the creation of a genuinely social and humane State.» Noting that wages and pensions would increase at a higher rate than inflation in 2005, the premier outlined his policy: – Health for all, regulation of hospital debts, completion of staff appointments for all hospitals, filling empty positions and abolishing the drug list. – An aggressive policy for tackling unemployment by means of an «education – development – employment» plan. Support for new investment, new businesses and jobs. Subsidies to businesses that take on unemployed workers. Amendments to allow unemployed people registered with the Manpower Organization (OAED) to be listed as protected members for an additional two years. – Combating price rises and profiteering by inspections and boosting the institution of the Consumer’s Advocate. – Housing measures: Larger tax rebates for interest on loans for a first home. Increase in the housing loan subsidy given by the Workers’ Housing Organization (OEK) to poor families. An increased rent subsidy for poor families, also extended to more students in subsidized housing. – Measures for people with disabilities: A disability card program, support for their access to public services. – Settlement of longstanding demands by large families: Exemption from military service for the fathers of three or more children; nine-month military service for one of the three children in such families; a quote for appointments to state sector jobs.