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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-01-04

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Friday, 4 January 2008 Issue No: 2786

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM Dora Bakoyannis briefs PM Costas Karamanlis
  • [02] Karamanlis-Petralia meeting
  • [03] PASOK leader George Papandreou chairs Political Coordinating Body
  • [04] Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos replies to PASOK
  • [05] Press conference by KKE's Aleka Papariga
  • [06] Greek industrial sector suffers from low competitiveness, survey
  • [07] Trade unions invited employers to negotiations over new pay increases
  • [08] Sales period beginning on January 15
  • [09] Investment Bank top securities firm in ASE last year
  • [10] Greek mutual funds' assets down 1.94 pct in December
  • [11] Greek stocks end 1.42 pct lower on Thursday
  • [12] ADEX closing report
  • [13] Greek bond market closing report
  • [14] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday
  • [15] Cloudy on Friday
  • [16] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [17] EC: Cypriots and Maltese quickly starting to use the euro
  • [18] ECB welcomes introduction of euro by Cyprus
  • [19] Interior Minister satisfied with the number of new voters registered
  • [20] British Airways to launch mainline flights from Pafos to Gatwick Politics

  • [01] FM Dora Bakoyannis briefs PM Costas Karamanlis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday at his Maximos Mansion office in Athens. After the meeting, Bakoyiannis referred to the prime minister's formal visit to Turkey stressing that it is scheduled and the date will be announced. Regarding the Zachopoulos affair and if it affects the political climate, Bakoyiannis refused to make any comments adding that only the Greek Justice can shed light on the issue.

    A day earlier, the prime minister reiterated that he is determined to proceed with necessary reforms for the country, speaking during a reception by the Athens Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

    "During a difficult and fluid international juncture, the Greek economy is on the right course, indicating that it has a strong growth rate allowing us to confront any challenges."

    [02] Karamanlis-Petralia meeting

    Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia briefed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis Thursday on the progress made in the social security system reform and the new round of meetings to be launched with social partners.

    "We move ahead with a sense of responsibility, following a specific plan while seeking the broadest possible social consensus. Goodwill displayed by all sides will help overcome many difficulties", the minister said.

    Petralia also stressed that the adoption of a fair and viable social security system is imperative to avoid future problems.

    [03] PASOK leader George Papandreou chairs Political Coordinating Body

    PASOK party leader George Papandreou chaired a meeting of his party's Political Coordinating Body on Thursday, that decided that PASOK will bring the issue of former culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos before Parliament.

    Party spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis said that as of Monday PASOK will be assuming initiatives for the issue's clarification. First of all, it will call for a meeting of the Permanent Parliamentary Cultural Affairs Committee and will request the summoning of culture ministers serving from 2004 until now. A proposal will also be submitted for the convening of the Institutions and Transparency Committee, before which the head of the prime minister's press office Yiannis Andrianos will be requested to testify.

    Ragoussis further accused the government of trying to cover up the issue, adding that PASOK will be resolute against this effort. The spokesman went on to say that the Greek people are following developments in the Zachopoulos case with perplexity, terming it a great scandal.

    As of next week, the spokesman said, PASOK will be assuming initiatives on a series of issues, such as the high cost of living, public utilities, the social security issue, ports and town planning.

    Referring to the high cost of living in particular, Ragoussis said that, together with inflation and the excessive loaning of households, it is functioning like a tight noose round the neck of a large section of the Greek people. On Monday, PASOK will also be announcing in detail its proposal regarding the electoral law.

    On the question of PASOK's congress, a limited postponement was decided and it will be held between March 13-16.

    It was also decided, lastly, that the immediate convening of the Foreign Policy Council will be requested from the foreign minister, also in light of the prime minister's visit to Turkey.

    [04] Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos replies to PASOK

    Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, replying to statements made by PASOK party spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis on Thursday evening, said that "contrary to PASOK of petty politics, the government has functioned and is functioning always within the framework of the Constitution, the Parliamentary Regulation and existing legislation."

    [05] Press conference by KKE's Aleka Papariga

    Greek Communist Party (KKE) Central Committee General Secretary Aleka Papariga characterized developments in the wider Middle East region as very serious, stressing that the launch of a pan-Arab popular struggle is necessary to prevent the Arab and the wider region countries from becoming victims of the competition in which the big powers are engaged over the region's oil deposits.

    Papariga made the comments in a press conference she gave on Thursday in the party headquarters in Perissos on the occasion of the meeting of fourteen communist and labor parties from the Middle East, south and east Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Gulf region to take place in Athens during the January 5-6 weekend.

    Referring to the latest developments in the Palestinian issue, Papariga said that it is now in the hands of the US President who promotes the creation of a new state without borders.

    Papariga also referred to the autonomous status of Baluchistan, the Turkish invasion of northern Iraq, the isolation of Syria, the continuing crisis in Lebanon and the Cyprus issue.

    On the imminent visit of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Ankara, Papariga expressed the view that it should not take place considering the recent Turkish violations in the Aegean.

    On the situation in Kosovo, she stated that the imminent independence of Kosovo could ignite the southern Balkan region, stressing that FYROM will be directly affected while questions are raised over the policy Albania will choose to follow.

    Financial News

    [06] Greek industrial sector suffers from low competitiveness, survey

    The Greek industrial sector suffers from low competitiveness, with only 14 percent of domestic manufacturing enterprises able to be called really competitive in 2006, a survey by Kantor Business Consultants SA said on Thursday.

    The survey said that the manufacturing sector in general presented a picture of a group of enterprises which improved its performance but was unable to fully exploit its capabilities. The survey also noted that although 2006 begun with favourable prospects, particularly in the first half, the second half of the year was marked by a slowdown of growth, resulting to a 14.3 pct increase in sales, and an 18.2 pct rise in pre-tax profits.

    Kantor said the metals, chemicals, mining, clothing and tobacco sectors recorded a significant improvement in profits, with the oil, food, electrical equipment and footwear sectors recording a strong decline in performance. The textile, transportation and paper industries extended a trend of disappointing performance for one more year, presenting losses despite an increase of sales.

    Kantor said 14 percent of a total 1,814 manufacturing enterprises included in the survey could be called competitive, 47 pct were potentially competitive and 39 pct of enterprises were evaluated as non-competitive.

    The competitive and potentially competitive enterprises accounted for 82 pct of total sales in the sector, 100 pct of operating earnings, 100 pct of pre-tax profits, 70 pct of fixed assets, 74 pct of equity capital and 72 pct of invested capital.

    The survey said that the pharmaceutical, chemical, oil products, non-metal minerals, metallurgical and mining sectors were among the competitive category. Kantor noted that the financial system was systematically supporting non-competitive enterprises (with annual financing of 253 million euros).

    [07] Trade unions invited employers to negotiations over new pay increases

    GSEE, Greece's largest trade union umbrella, on Thursday formally invited the country's main employers' unions to a round of negotiations aimed to agreeing on a new National General Collective Labour Agreement.

    In an announcement, GSEE noted that "a dramatic reduction of wages' purchasing power from uncontrolled price hikes forces the need for real and substantial pay increases. The framework of demands by GSEE over financial, institutional and labour demands are absolutely realistic and fair and we are determined to act".

    [08] Sales period beginning on January 15

    The sales period will begin on January 15 and end on February 28, 2008, according to an announcement by the Athens Trade Society on Thursday.

    Merchants are placing their hopes for an increase in turnover during the winter sales period since, as they claim, purchases made during the holidays were not enough to offset the decreased turnover in the previous months.

    In another development, according to a recent report prepared by the Piraeus Trade Society, 82 percent of merchants are satisfied with the firm beginning and ending dates set for the sales period and with the increase in its duration to six weeks.

    [09] Investment Bank top securities firm in ASE last year

    The 10 largest securities firms operating in the Athens Stock Exchange accounted for 84.19 percent of total turnover made in the Greek market last year, raising their share from 80 percent in 2006, official figures showed on Thursday.

    Investment Bank of Greece topped the list, with a 17.77 percent share of the market, followed by EFG Eurobank Securities (16.78 pct), P&K Securities (10.80 pct), National Securities (10.01 pct), Proton (3.23 pct), HSBC (2.67 pct) and Eurocorp (1.28 pct).

    [10] Greek mutual funds' assets down 1.94 pct in December

    Greece's mutual funds' assets fell by 1.94 percent in December to 24.52 billion euros, compared with the previous month, official figures showed on Thursday. A monthly report by the Association of Institutional Investors said 21.68 billion euros, or 88 pct of total assets, were Greek mutual funds of all categories with the remaining 2.84 billion euros (12 pct) foreign capital market funds managed by Greek mutual fund management companies.

    The report said that 22 mutual fund companies managed 329 mutual funds in December 31, 2007, of which 230 were domestic funds, 30 were funds of funds and 69 were foreign market funds. Domestic equity funds and domestic combined funds recorded increases of 1.6 pct and 1.2 pct, respectively in their assets to 4.44 billion euros and 1.58 billion euros, respectively. Funds of funds (-8.9 pct), Foreign bond funds (-5.8 pct), domestic money market (-5.1 pct) and combined funds of funds (-4.9 pct) recorded declines in assets.

    The Association of Institutional Investors also said that 17 domestic equity funds surpassed the composite indexe's performance with returns ranging from 18.42 pct to 26.15 pct, while one equity Fund of Funds recorded a return of 33.58 pct.

    [11] Greek stocks end 1.42 pct lower on Thursday

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower on Thursday, following a similar trend in other international markets. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange ended 1.42 pct lower at 5,133.33 points with turnover an improved 360.96 million euros, of which 65.4 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors ended lower, with the Financial Services (3.07 pct), Insurance (3.02 pct), Banks (2.27 pct) and Healthcare (1.77 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Food/Beverage (1.10 pct) and Constructions (0.02 pct) scored gains.

    The Big Cap index fell 1.75 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.78 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.07 pct. Evrofarma (19.44 pct), Hellenic Sugar (11.97 pct) and Creta Farm (9.95 pct) were top gainers, while Tria Alpha (9.30 pct), Karatzis (7.34 pct) and GEKE (6.74 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 173 to 75 with another 46 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -3.02%

    Industrials: -0.72%

    Commercial: -0.71%

    Construction: +0.02%

    Media: -1.14%

    Oil & Gas: -0.98%

    Personal & Household: -1.28%

    Raw Materials: -0.29%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.72%

    Technology: -0.88%

    Telecoms: -1.60%

    Banks: -2.27%

    Food & Beverages: +1.10%

    Health: -1.77%

    Utilities: -0.04%

    Chemicals: -0.23%

    Financial Services: -3.07%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Investment Group, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 24.04

    ATEbank: 3.94

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 36.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 30.50

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.22

    National Bank of Greece: 46.40

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 23.52

    Intralot: 13.30

    OPAP: 27.26

    OTE: 25.00

    Titan Cement Company: 32.34

    [12] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 162.616 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.55 pct and the January contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.08 percent.

    Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 8,884 contracts worth 120.068 million euros, with 26,066 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 521 contracts worth 16.152 million euros, with 680 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,110 contracts worth 9.751 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group's contracts (1,368), followed by Eurobank (368), National Bank (776), Intracom (347), Marfin Popular Bank (1,361) and ATEbank (1,189).

    [13] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.935 billion euros on Thursday, of which 609 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.329 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2012) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 675 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.33 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.52 pct and the German Bund 4.19 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were largely unchanged. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.87 pct, the two-day rate was 4.02 pct, the one-month rate 4.24 pct and the 12-month rate 4.69 pct.

    [14] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.487

    Pound sterling 0.750

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 9.483

    Japanese yen 161.9

    Swiss franc 1.655

    Norwegian kroner 7.988

    Canadian dollar 1.478

    Australian dollar 1.687

    Weather Forecast

    [15] Cloudy on Friday

    Cloudy weather with easterly, northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 6-7 beaufort. Drop in temperatures and snowfall in the mountainous regions. Temperatures will range between -8C and 13C. Partly cloudy in Athens, with northeasterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 4C to 10C. Possibility of sleet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -3C to 4C.

    [16] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Predictions for the Greek economy in 2008, pending reforms in social security and the latest developments in the investigation involving former culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos dominated the headlines in Athens' dailies on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Changes in heavy and hazardous occupations"

    APOGEVMATINI: "Zachopoulos a victim of an organised blackmail ring Police: He was entrapped and videotaped with a secret camera"

    AVGI: "Maximos Mansion (PM's office) hampers investigations in Zachopoulos affair"

    AVRIANI: Newspaper refers to a list given by a former Siemens executive claiming bribery

    CHORA: "Government tidied up expenses in last minute"

    ETHNOS: "Sixteen (culture ministry) files bearing the scent of scandal"

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Zachopoulos affair turns into thriller"

    ELEFTHEROS: Large unions struggle for wages, social security"

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "2008 a difficult year for Greek economy"

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Maximos Mansion refuses to turn over classified information about Zachopoulos' affair"

    ESTIA: "Review of New Democracy's four-year governance."

    KATHIMERINI: "Inflation worries government-Reevaluation in lots of products"

    LOGOS: "Zachopoulos a victim of a gang"

    TA NEA: "New blackmail suspects in Zachopoulos affair"

    NIKI: "Government holds back documents in Zachopoulos affair"

    RIZOSPASTIS: The communist party's newspaper refers work-place related fatalities in 2007 on the 'altar' of capital, profits.

    VIMA: "Ominous forecasts for Greek economy in 2008"

    VRADYNI: "Social security reforms: Reversal on 4 points- Development Minister attempts to build bridges with large unions"

    Cyprus Affairs

    [17] EC: Cypriots and Maltese quickly starting to use the euro

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    The adoption of the euro in Cyprus and Malta on January 1st is proceeding very smoothly and without any noteworthy incidents, said the European Commission, in a statement here Thursday.

    It also noted that so far only a few limited incidents of undue price increases have been reported in both countries.

    In its statement, the Commission said that "all available evidence suggests that the changeover operation is proceeding very smoothly and without any noteworthy incidents. On January 2, a significant number of cash transactions were already carried out in euro in both countries, and around 40% of citizens had only or mostly euro cash in their wallets and purses."

    On January 2, retailers gave change exclusively in euro in 92% (Cyprus) and 91% (Malta) of all cash transactions effected, according to a survey conducted for the European Commission.

    Asked about which currency they had in their wallets and purses on January 2, 12% of respondents in Cyprus had only euro banknotes, while an additional 31% were carrying "mostly" euro banknotes, according to the Commission survey. The respective figures for coins were 20% and 26%.

    As regards cash payments on January 2, 28% of the Cypriots said they had paid in euro, while 68% still used the national currency. The dual circulation period during which citizens can still pay in Cyprus pounds and Maltese lire, in parallel with the euro, extends until January 31, 2008 in both countries.

    According to the Commission, as people are eager to exchange national cash into euro and to withdraw euro cash, some queues at banks and ATMs were reported in both Cyprus and Malta.

    "Overall, the changeover process appears to have gone according to plan in both countries. Since January 1, euro banknotes have been available from ATMs (cash dispensers) in both countries. All 550 ATMs in Cyprus and all 154 in Malta were successfully converted to dispense euro banknotes during the first day of the new year, the large majority by noon. In Cyprus, some 50,000 cash withdrawals at ATMs took place on January 1 and 2, for a total amount of 5.97 million," the statement noted.

    In Cyprus, bank branches opened on January 1 to allow for cash exchanges and withdrawals of euro cash.

    Regarding the conversion of prices into euros, the Commission said that "so far only a few limited incidents of undue price increases have been reported in both countries. The authorities are investigating them, and will take action if needed." In Malta, it was reported that the prices at certain car parks had increased.

    The Commission urged consumers to be even more vigilant and assertive during this period than usual.

    [18] ECB welcomes introduction of euro by Cyprus

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    The European Central Bank has welcomed the introduction of the euro by Cyprus and Malta on January 1st, 2008.

    ''The euro has been introduced in Cyprus and Malta. The number of EU Member States that use the single European currency has now increased to 15. The European Central Bank (ECB) welcomes this further enlargement of the euro area," an ECB press release says.

    The ECB notes that as a result of the adoption of the euro by Cyprus and Malta, the Central Bank of Cyprus and the Central Bank of Malta are now full members of the Eurosystem, with the same rights and obligations as the 13 national central banks of the other EU member states that have adopted the euro.

    According to the ECB, the Central Bank of Cyprus and the Central Bank of Malta have paid up the remainder of their contributions to the capital of the ECB and have also transferred to the ECB their contributions to the foreign reserve assets of the ECB.

    The integration of the Cypriot and Maltese monetary financial institutions (MFIs) into the euro area banking system on January 1, 2008 was already taken into account in the publication of the euro area liquidity needs and in the benchmark allotment on December 27 and 28, 2007.

    The Cypriot and Maltese counterparties of the Eurosystem will be able to participate in the Eurosystem's main refinancing operations for the first time on January 3, 2008.

    The ECB press release adds that the lists of MFIs located in Cyprus and Malta that are subject to reserve requirements are published on the ECB's website, as are the lists of the MFIs located in other EU Member States that have adopted the euro.

    The lists of assets located in Cyprus and Malta that are eligible as collateral for the credit operations of the Eurosystem are also available on the ECB's website.

    [19] Interior Minister satisfied with the number of new voters registered

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    Cyprus Interior Minister Christos Patsalides expressed his satisfaction with the number of new voters that have been registered on the electoral roll to be eligible to vote in February's presidential elections.

    Patsalides told CNA that 15,608 new voters were registered during the last three months, adding that according to the data of the competent authorities 12,000 more should have registered.

    Patsalides added though that the campaign for the registration of new voters was successful.

    Invited to say if there will be any consequences for those who failed to register, he said this issue will be examined in cooperation with the Attorney General.

    As regards the number of presidential candidates, Patsalides said that even though candidacies will be officially submitted on January 18, unofficially there are many persons who have asked for information, apart from the already known candidates.

    Current Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, House of Representatives President and General Secretary of left-wing AKEL Demetris Christofias, former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, former agriculture minister Costas Themistocleous, Member of the European Parliament Marios Matsakis and businessman Andreas Efstratiou have already announced their decision to run for the presidency in February.

    [20] British Airways to launch mainline flights from Pafos to Gatwick

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    British Airways is to launch new mainline scheduled flights from Pafos to London this summer, offering both business and leisure travellers an additional choice for their direct flights to London and on ward connections.

    The new British Airways service from Pafos to London Gatwick will commence on Tuesday July 1st 2008 with flights operating on a daily basis. Pafos becomes British Airways second destination in Cyprus.

    Currently, the airline operates daily flights between Larnaca and London Heathrow.

    Bob Manning, CEO of Hermes Airports Ltd commented "We are delighted at today's route announcement. This new daily British Airways service between Gatwick and Pafos will be warmly welcomed by leisure and business travellers alike, as well as the UK and Cyprus travel trade.

    We look forward to working with the British Airways team to further develop the long-standing BA product in Cyprus."

    Marianna Trokoudes, British Airways Country Commercial Manager Cyprus, said: "The opening of our full service mainline flights between Pafos and London Gatwick demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the Cyprus market. In combination with our existing flights from

    Larnaca, our Pafos services offer tremendous flexibility and convenience for Cypriots travelling to the UK, or onward to our list of fantastic world wide destinations.''

    ''Pafos is also very popular with UK travellers, and the growing economic importance of the town and region are just a few of the reasons why we feel this service will be very well received in Cyprus, and in the UK," she added.

    Hermes Airports Ltd assumed management of Larnaca and Pafos International Airports in May 2006, under a 25 year concession agreement with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

    We wish to inform the readers of the English Daily News Bulletin that the bulletin will not be published on Saturday, January 5, on the occasion of Epiphany Day on Sunday. The next edition of the bulletin will appear on Monday, January 7.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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