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Apokoronas News 2014
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If you landed in Greece from Mars at any time during March, you’d be forgiven for  thinking that the biggest problem this country ever had, was the shelf life of milk. The 2, 4 or 9 day milk debate overshadowed all other public discussion and after some hard negotiation a blanket vote on a 200 page ‘multi-bill’ that contained some other things too, approved the seven day milk. Unfortunately, very few MPs had time to read any of the other reforms they voted for. The important thing was that through milk, the country and the well being of the nation was once again secure.  With the coming of spring in April the newfound feeling of well being created by the Milk Act continued to grow. No moaning minnies could take away the two significant achievements of the government, The fist was the return to the money markets, where Greece was once again able to borrow, for the first time since the country was bailed out, at pre crisis interest rates albeit with guarantees from the ECB in British law. Such was the magnitude of the achievement, that by the next day, when Mrs Merkel chose to visit she found herself in a completely new country, New Greece. The sacrifices made by the Greek people have paid off, as it was inaccurately said. Inaccurately,  because to most people’s minds a sacrifice is a voluntary offering. In the case of the Greek people it would be more appropriate to say that they were the sacrifice, that they were sacrificed to appease the lenders and let the Greek oligarchs off the tax hook.  The success did not stop there however. On 23 April, four years to the day that former premier Papandreou announced Greece’s bankruptcy  and entry into the European support mechanism, Europe accepted figures that showed Greece truly had a primary surplus. The exact figure varied between 3.5 billion ( Eurostat) and 1.5 billion (IMF) depending on the accounting method used, but  more importantly there was no mention of dodgy accounting this time. What’s more, some half a billion of that surplus will as promised be distributed to the needy, (by application only) just before the European elections and just before the same people will receive their tax demand for the imaginary income the government will assume they have. And don’t think that the government’s charity stops there. Just before Easter many thousands of free dinners and food parcels were given to Atheneans who had no other means to get their Easter  dinner; Athens mayor Kaminis announced a new ground braking programme of housing shelters for the
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increasing numbers of homeless families, hailing it as the new era of social solidarity – this after all is New Greece – and promising an expansion of the housing program using government owned buildings (taken from their owners for tax debts?) to house people who have lost their homes as a direct result of government policies. Welcome to the new era of prosperity and growth in New Greece. But even the triumphant return to the markets and the reality of the primary surplus does not give much cause to celebrate either.  Greece’s economy has shrunk by 23%, unemployment is at a record high of 28%, there are two million uninsured citizens, thousands of businesses close every month because of lack of liquidity and investment is discouraged through a combination of punitive taxation and  the bureaucratic maze which persists to thwart the creation of new small businesses. The primary surplus itself is a politically agreed construct, allowing Athens a lot of room for creative accounting by, for example, recording  €3bn in arrears owed to hospitals and social security funds as assets and excluding “several specific items, mainly to better reflect the underlying structural fiscal position”. That the government made a meal of these figures as the elections approach was expected. What was more surprising was that a deliriously happy premier – who must surely be aware of the fragility of the economic data presented to Europe - announced that by 2015 he intends to achieve a budget surplus that will include  interest payments (currently 7.3 billion). Which makes me wonder what levels of taxes must the government have in mind for the next two years. Or what sort of growth? Even though I’m not convinced that they really want growth. Of the kind they have been talking about  since that fateful St George’s day four years ago. The chances are that they will they settle for a few large foreigh investments and New Cronyism suitable for New Greece, where the political party armies will no longer be rewarded for their votes by well paid jobs in the public sector, but by a hot meal, a food parcel and, on very cold days, a place in the municipal homeless centre?
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Press reports
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Local election news
Exuberance and anxiety as Greece returns to market Friday 11/04/2014 More
News in brief
23/04/2014  Thousands of applicants for the social dividend , aexpress solution for illegal homes and land, ENEL applies for oil and gas exploration, the problem of unpaid work, forged 50 euro notes in Crete,   airport deathe blamed on stress, teachers are called back early In  this week’s News in Brief   More
Troika warns against Greek market return Tuesday 11/03//2014 Greece’s plan to return to debt markets this year is meeting opposition from its bailout creditors, as it may allow the government to ease off on efforts to fix the economy.   More
More news
Nikoloudis’ EPA publishes programme for elections Friday 18/04/2014 More
One dead, nine injured in Easter celebrations Tuesday22/04/2014 The whole of Crete mourned the loss of a popular young man who fell victim to the careless selfishness of individuals who continue  More
Almyrida beach. Who is to blame? A press statement by Nikitas Paizis Saturday 29/03/2014  More
A tribute to Glyn Jones, Vamos resident Sunday 06/04/2014 On 2 April the actor, writer and director Glyn Jones who for the last 20 years lived in Vamos passed away. Glyn Jones was born in Durban, South Africa in 1931 More
Greece qualifies for new debt relief after 2013 budget surplus  Wednesday 23/04/2014 More