|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-09-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 2 September 2009 Issue No: 3286
 PM Karamanlis confers with Chambers UnionPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Tuesday with the presidium of the Central Union of Chambers of Greece, at a meeting that was also attended by development minister Costis Hatzidakis.
Hatzidakis said that the government was carrying on with its work as normal, replying after the meeting to a press question concerning speculations of early general elections.
Responding to union chairman Y. Kassimatis' call for cooperation between the credit system and business concerns, Hatzidakis noted economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou's announcement of a freeze on bank auctions of foreclosed properties from businesses and private borrowers for overdue debts of up to 200,000 euros, effective up to the end of the year.
He also stressed that the government has made it clear that support for the business enterprises should be forthcoming from the banks, and made special note of the Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Very Small Enterprises (TEMPME), which "has financed the liquidity of thousands of enterprises".
Hatzidakis further noted that the government will introduce legislation that will facilitate the establishment of business enterprises by cutting down on bureaucracy, adding that a program to boost commerce and services will be unveiled on Wednesday.
Kassimatis, in turn, said that the financial crisis is reversible, provided that the structural changes and the government's National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) program move ahead immediately.
He also warned that the early elections speculation was not helping the economy, adding that dialogue and advancement of everything that has already been agreed are necessary.
Meanwhile, the justice ministry announced later the suspension of auctions on foreclosed properties by banks for sums up to 200,000 euros up until December 31, by virtue of legislation that will be tabled in parliament immediately by minister Nikos Dendias.
 Papandreou: 'The country is ungoverned'"The country is ungoverned and responsibility lies with the government," main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed on Tuesday, while chairing a meeting of PASOK's Political Council.
"The citizens have lost patience and the solution for the country is to hold general elections," Papandreou underlined, noting that the suggested alternative of a government reshuffle will only serve to "recycle existing weaknesses".
According to Papandreou, the government had so far acted with its own petty political interests as its only guideline, in order to hold on to power, and could not now ask for consensus.
"The pre-election period has begun. The only thing we don't know is how long it will last," he noted, criticising Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for his failure to agree to PASOK's proposal for simultaneous general and European Parliament elections at the start of the summer, when there would be not extra cost for the country.
"The political battle before us is not a battle between two parties or between two leaders. It is a battle between two different perceptions about the future of our country," he added. The outcome would decide whether Greece will proceed to build on its comparative advantages or whether it would continue to demolish and consume the wealth it had built up, he said.
"[The government] not only did not continue the great work left by PASOK but destroyed the things we had created: prestige for Greece abroad, a strong economy, social state, institutions, structures and infrastructure," he claimed.
Papandreou warned his party officials that victory in the elections would be determined not just by the percentage of the vote but also by the extent that the party had prepared citizens to participate in the effort proposed by PASOK.
He particularly underlined the importance of economic policy, saying that the economy would "determine the political agenda" and that New Democracy's failure was largely due to its failure to manage the economy.
PASOK's answer to what he called the government's "last presence" at the Thessaloniki International Fair would be a political sally next weekend and to present a policy platform for the country's government, reorganising the economy and exiting from the crisis
"The current government is not concerned with the crisis the country is going through but only its own internal crisis. For this reason, the only solution for the country is to hold general elections," he stressed.
During Tuesday's session, PASOK's Political Council unanimously appointed a seven-member Candidate Selection Committee to pick candidates for the next general elections.
 Antonaros: PASOK responsible for prolonged pre-election climateÔhe government spokesman on Tuesday again dismissed a barrage of press questions focusing on the ubiquitous "early election scenarios", a favorite political issue for most Greek media and one, along with reports of cabinet reshuffles, that climaxes before the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), where prime ministers offer their state-of-the-economy address.
"I have nothing to say on this subject," spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said, while at the same time pointing to main opposition PASOK as the culprit behind the "early election-mongering".
"It (PASOK) is liable for the efforts at causing a prolonged pre-election period via an institutionally reproachable and unconstitutional manner, namely, attempts to force the holding of elections by using the issue of the president of the republic's re-election," Antonaros charged.
 KKE's Papariga: doubts over readiness f or flu pandemicIn a press conference on Tuesday, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga expressed doubts about whether the government was properly prepared to deal with the H1N1 novel influenza pandemic.
"The measures must go into operation now and not when the epidemic peaks, because the peak can come in two days, four days or a week - nor can we simply monitor meteorological conditions," she said.
Papariga criticised the government for the poor state of the national health system and once again voiced objections to privatisations in health care. She particularly stressed the lack of nurses and cleaning staff in schools and hospitals, pointing out that good hygiene was the primary method of protecting against the flu pandemic.
Regarding the possibility of early general elections, Papariga was categorical: "We are now in a pre-election period". She said her party would not be taken by surprise, however, regardless of whether elections took place in a month or a year.
 SYRIZA tours burnt regions in AtticaThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday urged the government to withdraw the spatial plan for Attica and take action to protect the prefecture's forests, after visiting areas burnt in recent fires near Greece's capital. Alavanos was at the head of a delegation representing SYRIZA and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), the largest party in the left-wing coalition.
Describing his tour as an "agonizing journey in hell," Alavanos called for measures to protect sites due for reforestation, anti-flooding measures, state control of private forests and woods around the capital and the rooting out of corruption on multiple levels.
He also stressed that the prime minister should now be at the burnt areas "instead of shutting himself away in order to find a solution for New Democracy's survival".
SYRIZA's Parliamentary group is planning a large-scale seminar next Thursday, with the participation of local government, scientists and state officials, to formulate specific proposals for the protection of forests, prevention of fires and restoration of burnt areas.
 New MP sworn inThe first runner-up on the Argolida precinct ticket of ruling New Democracy party, Dimitris Kranias, was sworn-in on Tuesday as a Parliament deputy. Kranias succeeds Yiannis Manolis, who resigned from his seat on Monday.
 Parliament ratifies Greek-US agreement on terrorismThe bill ratifying the agreement reached between Greece and the United States regarding terrorism and prevention in combatting crime, that strengthens the institutional framework for cooperation between the two countries, also in light of the visa waiver for the entry of Greek citizens into the United States, was ratified in Parliament in its entirety on Tuesday (by the ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK parties).
Referring to reservations voiced by PASOK, Justice Minister Nikos Dendias said "you cannot have everything. This talk about ratification but renegotiating is distant from the seriousness and responsibility required by Parliamentary premises."
The Justice minister also termed "myths" what was said about human rights violations.
 Education minister, Athens archbishop discuss draft billEducation and Religious Affairs Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos met Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Tuesday to discuss modifications to articles in a draft bill relating to issues concerning the Church of Greece.
"I am certain that these issues will be settled and I am certain that relations between the State and Church will go from good to better," the minister said after the meeting, clarifying that the articles in question concerned "operational issues that we must deal with together".
 Erdogan meets with reps of religious minoritiesANKARA (ANA-MPA/A. Abatzis)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday met with representatives of religious minorities on the well-known Marmara Sea island of Prinkipos (Büyükada), where he noted that "certain steps regarding minority issues may be taken in the next few days."
The visit follows Erdogan's earlier meeting on the same island, off Istanbul, with minority representatives, followed by a tour of the Greek orphanage building on the isle, where he was greeted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Vartholomeos). At the time, the Turkish premier was accompanied by Minister of State and chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis and Education Minister Nimet Cubukcu.
Following that meeting, the Patriarch had referred to new hope for a resolution of various problems faced by the ethnic Greek minority in the neighbouring country.
 Austria's envoy tours fire-ravaged NE Attica prefectureAustria's ambassador to Greece Michael Linhart on Tuesday visited the wildfire-affected districts of Aghios Stefanos, Stamata, Marathon Lake and the township of Marathon, all north and northeast of Athens proper.
The envoy was received by Marathon Mayor Spyros Zagaris, who briefed him over the problems the area is facing now, including erosion of the remaining soil and the danger of floods.
During a visit to the Marathon Museum the two men also discussed the possibility of = cooperation in the field of sports and culture in view of a celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the historic battle of Marathon.
 Gov't: Suspension of bank auctions for debts below 200k until Dec. 31The government on Tuesday announced that it will immediately table legislation in Parliament to suspend bank auctions of foreclosed properties of businesses and private borrowers for overdue debts of up to 200,000 euros, effective until the end of the year.
The development comes after a same-day meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, with the latter referring to an initiative by the economy and finance ministry over temporary relief of a specific segment debt-burdened bank borrowers.
Hatzidakis also stressed that the government has made it clear that greater support for SMEs should be forthcoming from banks, referring particularly to the Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Very Small Enterprises (TEMPME), which "has financed the liquidity of thousands of enterprises".
 FinMin meets with Greek bankersEconomy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou met on Tuesday with the presidium of the Association of Greek Banks.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 OTE eyes workforce cutHellenic Telecommunications Organisation (ÏÔÅ) is considering a plan to cut its workforce by 2,000 and hire 500 new staff members, Panagis Vourloumis, OTE's chairman announced on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Thessaloniki, Vourloumis said the plan was not a mass voluntary retirement plan but a more focused approach based on a quality evaluation of the current workforce.
Under the plan, OTE would offer incentives to some of its 12,000 employees to voluntarily leave the telecoms and mobile telephony utility, although he noted that there was no timetable for implementing the plan.
Vourloumis said the global economic crisis has already cost OTE a "very difficult 12-month period" while he predicted more difficulties in the next 12-month period. He added that the company would focus on boosting broadband services and promoting Internet TV services.
He said OTE was already in talks with four municipalities (including Athens and Thessaloniki) to gain cooperation in implementing an ambitious project to bring vdsl technology to consumers, offering internet speeds of up to 24-50 Mbps.
Vourloumis said this project (fibre to the central line distribution boxes) could become the first step to implementing a wide-ranging project promoted by the Greek government to develop an optical fibre network to two million households in the country, budgeted at 2.1 billion euros (with OTE covering 20 pct of the budget).
 Tenders for new ports in Igoumenitsa, PatrasThe government on Tuesday launched two tenders for completion of two projects to build new ports in Igoumenitsa and Patras.
The two projects, budgeted at 110 million euros and 186 million euros, respectively, are co-financed by EU funds as part of a 4th Community Support Framework programme.
An announcement by the ministry of public works, environment and town planning, said bids for both tenders will be submitted on Oct. 27, 2009 . The two projects are of major significance to Greece because the two ports are the country's main gateways to Italy and western Europe.
 Industrial net profits up 9.6% in H1Only three out of 10 industries listed on the Athens Stock Exchange managed to present improved net results in the first half of 2009, according to a study based on published balanced sheets of listed enterprises in the market.
Listed industries' net profits grew 9.6 pct in the January-June period, but 70 pct of enterprises reported either lower profitability of higher losses, with one in two industries reporting losses in the first six months of the year. The study attributed the 9.6-pct increase in net profits to a spectacular recovery by the electricity utility Public Power Corp. (PPC), while excluding the electricity sector, Greek industries recorded a 30-pct decline in net profits.
The country's industrial sector is suffering more than any other sector of the economy from the international financial crisis, with sales falling by 20.1 pct in the first half to 19.28 billion euros, compared with 24.12 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2008.
Petro-chemical operators and producers Hellenic Petroleum and Motor Oil accounted for the biggest part of this decline, while only 21 pct of the total 108 enterprises included in the analysis managed to record higher sales. Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) grew 3.3 pct in the first six months of the year to 2.67 billion euros, while 23 enterprises recorded improved EBITDA with the remaining 85 reporting lower EBITDA. Another 29 enterprises reported negative EBITDA in the first half.
 Finance ministry 'green roof' saves 5,630 euros in costsThe "green roof" created on the roof the economy and finance ministry building in Syntagma Square has resulted in savings of 5,630 euros a year, the ministry announced on Tuesday. The savings arise from a reduction in power used for cooling, amounting to 3,600 euros a year, and a reduction in fuel used for heating by 2,030 euros a year.
The green roof was created in July 2008 and covers about 650 square metres, or roughly half the surface at the top of the building.
Measurements carried out by the applied thermodynamics laboratory at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) mechanical engineering department have shown that the difference in temperature between the areas of the roof with plants and those without are 18C, with the former reaching 37C and the latter 55C, respectively.
The measurements also confirmed that the energy savings from the planting amount to 9.6 percent for cooling and 4.4 percent for heating. For the top floor of the building, especially, the energy costs for cooling can be more than halved.
The finance ministry noted that the project was initiated to help improve the environment in central Athens, save energy and reduce the buildings operating costs, as well as acting as a model that might encourage initiatives by other private and public organisations.
 Greek PMI jumps to 51.1 in Aug.Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index jumped to 51.1 points in August, recovering after 11 months of decline. The seasonally adjusted PMI, compiled by Markit, records business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growth sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
Increases in production and new orders were the main supporters behind PMI's recovery in August. Greek manufacturers said new orders rose for the first time since September 2008, despite a slight decline in Greek exports.
Greek manufacturers' purchasing activity - in supplies - grew in August, but inventories fell for the 10th consecutive month although with a weaker rate since September 2008.
 Stocks end 1.75% upGreek stocks rebounded strongly on Tuesday, after Monday's sharp correction, at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index rose 1.75 pct to end at 2,509.52 points, with turnover shrinking to 194.7 million euros, of which 8.4 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Banks (3.31 pct), Constructions (2.39 pct) and Personal/Home Products (2.07 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (2.88 pct), Media (2.38 pct) and Insurance (1.23 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.37 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.32 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.28 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 115 to 91 with another 55 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.19%
Personal & Household: +2.07%
Raw Materials: +1.35%
Travel & Leisure: -0.45%
Food & Beverages: +0.18%
Financial Services: +0.41%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 12.02
Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.62
HBC Coca Cola: 16.14
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.38
National Bank of Greece: 22.68
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.18
Bank of Piraeus: 11.20
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at 0.75 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesdsay, with turnover rising to 71.949 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,291 contracts worth 53.763 million euros, with 22,730 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,326 contracts worth 18.186 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,097), followed by Eurobank (477), MIG (653), OTE (869), PPC (585), OPAP (689), Piraeus Bank (1,368), Alpha Bank (2,547), Marfin Popular Bank (1,918) and Hellenic Postbank (2,152).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market soared to 3.785 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.645 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 2.140 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.5 billion euros.
The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 130 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.56 percent and the German Bund 3.26 percent.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.30 pct, the six-month rate 1.08 pct, the three-month rate 0.81 pct and the one-month rate 0.48 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.442
Pound sterling 0.888
Danish kroner 7.502
Swedish kroner 10.301
Japanese yen 134.33
Swiss franc 1.527
Norwegian kroner 8.680
Canadian dollar 1.579
Australian dollar 1.723
 Ecumenical Patriarch urges prayer for action on climate changeISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew inaugurated the ecclesiastical year on Tuesday with an environmental message, urging the faithful to "consider the past and repent for things we have done or failed to do for the care of the Earth".
Speaking at the church of Aghios Georgios in Fanar, the Patriarch also referred to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December and called on the faithful to pray "so that the developed industrial countries will cooperate with the developing ones so as to reduce the harmful polluting emissions, so that there is the will to collect and wisely manage the money required in order to take necessary measures."
Bartholomew appealed to people to renew their commitment to working together in order to bring about the changes needed, calling on them to "reject all things that harm creation, change our way of thinking and, as a result, radically change our way of life".
The Patriarch echoed the same message in a videotaped address shown at a conference on renewable energy sources and the environment that was organised by the Gouvernetos Monastery in Hania, on the Greek island of Crete.
"Protection of the environment is the supreme responsibility of humanity," Bartholomew stated in his message to the conference, organised in collaboration with local authorities and taking place under the aegis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
 7 influenza medical centres opened by Athens municipalitySeven influenza medical were opened on Tuesday at the city of Athens' corresponding municipal health clinics, within the framework of a national primary healthcare network established to deal with the Ç1Í1 virus.
The first influenza medical centre opened on Aug. 20 at the 1st Municipal Health Clinic / Urban Healthcare Centre in downtown Athens. Each centre is staffed by a medical specialist, nurse or health visitor and staff-member, and operates daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. without appointment.
The medical examination includes a thorough clinical evaluation and a rapid diagnostic test for the diagnosis of influenza type A or type B.
 University, TEI heads discuss swine flu measuresGreek university rectors and the heads of Technological Educational Institutes on Tuesday held a joint meeting at the education ministry with Deputy Education Minister Spyros Taliadouros and ministry general secretary Niki Gotzopoulou to discuss measures for the novel influenza pandemic when higher educational institutes re-open for classes.
The ministry has already sent out a circular with indicative instructions and will hold a series of training seminars on September 2-9.
Also discussed during the meeting were the problems that have arisen with TEIs that are undersubscribed and have attracted only a handful or even no students during the current academic year. Taliadouros stressed that no TEI would be shut down and pointed out that TEIs that had made changes to their courses and curriculum had managed to bring in new students.
 French man in Greek ICU with acute swine flu symptomsA 29-year-old French man has been admitted to a Greek hospital intensive care unit in critical condition due to severe symptoms caused by the H1N1 novel influenza virus. According to the health ministry, the man was visiting Greece when he developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
 Cultural Festival in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
A Greek American Cultural Festival will be held in New York, in the region of Queens, for a second year with the participation of composer Mimis Plessas.
The festival will be organised by Queens Theatre in the Park, in cooperation with the Greek General Consulate, the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation and expatriate agencies.
It will begin on Thursday, September 24, and come to an end on Sunday, September 27.
 Cloudy, showery on WednesdayCloudy and showery weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 34C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 33C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 21C to 30C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceRuling New Democracy (ND) MP from Argolis prefecture Yiannis Manolis' resignation from his parliamentary seat, speculations of a government reshuffle or early general elections, and Wednesday's crucial meeting of the EU's economy and finance ministers on the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Elections: Political crime or...folly?"
APOGEVMATINI: "Karamanlis' decision (on a cabinet reshuffle or early elections) a matter of just hours - After hearing the views of the country's social agencies and his close associates, the prime minister is weighing the national interest".
AVGHI: "Souflias (environment, town planning and public works minister) planting...roads instead of trees - The new highways of Attica prefecture, totaling 72 kilometers, to burrow across Mt. Hymettus and the burnt expanse of Pendeli".
AVRIANI: "Thriller with elections - Karamanlis determined to clear up the political landscape - Strong reactions by MPs at risk of not being re-elected".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The prime minister will make his decision after Papathanassiou's (economy and finance minister) return from Brussels (ECOFIN meeting)".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis tight-lipped, but leaks of early elections from his collaborators".
ESTIA: "Early elections citing the same national issue (economic crisis and drafting of budget) unconstitutional".
ETHNOS: "Dissolution, with the prime minister a mere spectator - Chaos in ND regarding early elections".
KATHIMERINI: "The scale leaning towards early elections - Intense reactions continue inside ND, with backstabbing among the cadres".
LOGOS: "Crucial ECOFIN meeting on Wednesday - The elections issue depends on the outcome of the ECOFIN meeting".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Organisation of people's vigilance and demand for protection of forests, land, our lives".
TA NEA: "Souflias pointed at early elections (in the autumn), while Karamanlis was terrified by the reactions".
TO VIMA: "Strong indications that the prime minister will call early elections".
VRADYNI: "Ministers and MPs demand changes, not (early) elections".
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