NEWS

In Brief

BUDGET DECISION

European Commission verdict on deficit-cutting measures due today The EU is today expected to tell Greece that its measures to reduce its public deficit, as laid out in the 2005 state budget, are insufficient. The Commission is set to ask the government to increase its efforts to lower the deficit below the 3 percent of GDP limit set for eurozone members. A major reason for its doubts on the measures’ efficacy is that the Commission has forecast Greece’s 2005 GDP growth at 3.3 percent, while Athens believes it will be 3.9 percent. Sources indicate that the Commission will not go as far as asking Greece to implement certain deficit-cutting measures within a specific time frame or to provide regular progress reports. CORINTH CONNECTION March extension for suburban train The suburban railway, which was built for the Athens Olympics and runs from the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport to Larissa Station in the capital, will start running to Corinth in March 2005, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday. He added that the journey would last around one hour, that test runs would begin in January and the next stretch to developed will be the Corinth-to-Kiato line. The complete network would be completed by 2010, by which time the suburban train will be running to Halkida and Thebes, Liapis said. Budget vote Parliament will vote on the 2005 state budget today, after another round of heated debate yesterday. PASOK is expected to vote against the budget, which should pass anyway as the ruling conservatives have a clear majority in the 300-seat house. Former Socialist Prime Minister Costas Simitis (above) was one of yesterday’s main debaters. Unemployment down The jobless rate in Greece for the second quarter of 2004 was 10.2 percent, down from 11.3 percent for the first three months of the year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday. Flood scheme. A plan, costing some 11 million euros, to carry out seven projects which will improve the anti-flooding measures in various parts of Athens was approved by the city’s prefecture yesterday. The work will take place between 2005 and 2006 and consists of the construction of a sewage network in Vrilissia, anti-flooding protection in Aghios Dimitrios, Ilioupolis, Pefki, Hellenikon and Galatsi, as well as a drainage system in Aghia Varvara. (Page 3) Cotton protest Farmers blocked of the Trikala to Larissa highway at the Farkadona junction with their tractors yesterday in protest over cotton subsidies. New Year Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis and musical entertainer Dionysis Savvopoulos will today present the City of Athens’s plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Hospital cleanup Officials at the Aghia Sophia Children’s Hospital in Athens promised yesterday to install special monitoring equipment in the building’s ventilation system after it was revealed that dangerous chemicals were filtering through the system. The problem was worst on the second and third floors, where children are being treated. Foreign fish Networks of fish importers are re-packaging their products as Greek before they are sold on the domestic market, a fishermen’s association warned yesterday. A spokesman claimed that 130,000 tons of fish are imported from Turkey, Senegal and Morocco into the country each year and that only 5 percent of fish consumed in Greece during the summer was actually caught in Greek waters.