NEWS

In Brief

VAT hike

Public to get first taste of new austerity measures The increase in value-added tax from 19 to 21 percent, one of a series of new austerity measures approved in Parliament last week, is to come into effect today, bumping up the price of food, fuel, utility bills and various services. The price of toll fees on the national road network increased at midnight yesterday. At the Afidnes junction in northern Attica, the new toll fee for motorists will be 1.90 euros, at Thebes 2.30 euros and at Tragana 2.20 euros. Toll fees on the Attiki Odos ring roadwill not change. Name spat Anger at EC official’s slip-up Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas yesterday expressed his «deep annoyance» with European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, a Czech, for referring to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as Macedonia, despite United Nations-mediated talks aimed at resolving a bilateral dispute about the country’s name. In an interview with Skopje-based television channel A1, Droutsas accused Fule of «sending the wrong message to the leaders and people of the neighboring country and undermining ongoing negotiations.» Power cuts? A 48-hour strike by employees at the Public Power Corporation, due to begin tomorrow morning, is likely to result in electricity shortages in many parts of the country. The workers, who are to meet at the end of the scheduled strike late on Wednesday to plan further action, object to austerity measures that trim their bonuses and holiday pay and have accused the government of «unfair, disastrous and absurd policies.» People smuggling Four Greeks – two men and two women – were detained by police in Thessaloniki on smuggling charges yesterday after an inspection of a stolen van in which they were traveling on the Egnatia Highway revealed 10 would-be migrants. According to police, who traced the suspects following a call from the owner of the van, the migrants had each paid 3,000 euros to be transferred to Athens from the Greek-Turkish border. The 30-year-old driver has been charged with people smuggling in the past, police said. Road fatality A 17-year-old pedestrian was killed in the early hours of Saturday morning when a car being driven by a 24-year-old man veered off a country road on the outskirts of Thessaloniki and ran her down. According to witnesses, the motorist completely lost control of the vehicle after hitting the girl and crashed into three cars which had been waiting at a red light at a road junction. The incident, which occurred at the 18th kilometer of the Thessaloniki-Michaniona road, resulted in minor injuries to the 24-year-old and to the the drivers and passengers in the three cars. Burglary ring Police in Thessaloniki yesterday were questioning a 27-year-old foreign national believed to have been the driving force behind a ring of robbers who broke into several homes in the city’s Panorama district and stole the car keys they found there, before making off in the corresponding vehicles they found outside. According to police, the ring members worked with forgers who provided them with fake papers for the cars, which were then sold abroad.