Summer ends

A passenger on a ship traveling from the Cycladic island of Paros to the port of Piraeus feeds one of the scores of seagulls that accompany ships on their voyages across the Aegean. With the summer holidays ending, the traffic is mostly from the islands back toward Athens. Schools open on Tuesday, meaning that returning ships and planes and highways leading into the capital are expected to be choked with travelers this coming weekend. Simitis, in other words, rejected the demands he has faced for a change in economic policy since his government was forced to reverse itself on social security reforms it proposed in March. The Cabinet agreed on reducing the public debt and approved a 5,000-drachma-per-month increase for low-income pensioners, at a cost of 400 billion drachmas. Another 210 billion will be spent in benefits for the unemployed, fighting poverty and social exclusion and helping people with disabilities. A further 190 billion will go toward paying family bonuses and civil service pensions, plus another 45 billion for employment policies. This is aside from the funds that will be taken from the EU’s Third Community Support Framework, in which 480 billion will be spent from 2001 to 2004 to help employment and promote entrepreneurship among young men and women and help other groups.

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