|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-08-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 7 August 2010 Issue No: 3561
 Holiday exodus nears peakA second major wave of holiday-makers left Greece's cities for the countryside and the islands on Friday, with the exodus expected to peak around the August 15 'Assumption of the Virgin' religious feast.
Traffic police said motorists could expect fine driving weather and had taken steps to facilitate the extra volume of traffic, though figures showed this remained below last year's levels at roads and ports.
According to the coast guard, 14 ferries carrying 13,300 passengers and 2,376 cars had left Piraeus by noon, while another 20 ferries were scheduled to leave during the rest of the day. The busiest day at Piraeus this year will be this Saturday, with ferries departing at 90 percent and 100 percent capacity.
Compared with 2009, there is a marked reduction in the number of cars transported and also lower demand for tickets on the more expensive catamaran express boats to the Cyclades, indicating that people were opting for the cheaper conventional ferries and leaving their cars at home.
Traffic police reported that 318,000 vehicles had gone through the Athens-Corinth toll posts since July 30, while another 254,000 had entered the Athens-Thessaloniki highway.
Traffic at Athens International Airport was also slower than last year, with 2,177 flights scheduled from Friday until Monday, of which 1,005 were domestic flights. The most popular domestic destinations were Iraklio, Crete by a large margin, followed by Thessaloniki, Santorini, Rhodes and Chios.
 Droutsas, Davutoglu, have 'friendly lunch' in RhodesAlternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas had a "friendly meeting and lunch" with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the island of Rhodes on Friday.
Droutsas and deputy tourism minister George Nikitiadis hosted a lunch for Davutoglu and his family at a taverna in the Old City.
"I welcome Mr. Davutoglu to Greece and Rhodes. As you know, I am in Rhodes en route to Kastellorizo, and it was a happy coincidence that Mr. Davutoglu is in the area, with his family. When he contacted me and proposed that we meet, naturally I accepted with pleasure. The meetings with Mr. Davutoglu are always interesting, and I believe it is very positive that deputy tourism minister Nikitiadis is also here and that he was able to be here with us today. Thus, we will have the opportunity to also discuss tourism issues, which are particularly important for this region," Droutsas said and, addressing Davutoglu, warmly welcomed hi to Rhodes.
Davutoglu, in turn, said it was a pleasure for him to be in Rhodes and to be meeting with his very good friends Droutsas and Nikitiadis. "We meet as families. In reality, the Aegean Sea is our common home, and when I was in Bodrum, I called Dimitris (Droutsas) to see if it was possible to meet on Rhodes. He kindly agreed to meet, and I am grateful for that," the Turkish foreign minister said.
"We are like a family, Turks and Greeks, as we share the same geography, the same cultural heritage, the same tourism environment and a centuries-old cultural heritage," Davutoglu added.
Nikitiadis also welcomed Davutoglu, noting that when such a high-ranking visitor comes to Greece "it is a pleasure for us to greet him, to welcome him to our region, especially at this time when we have forged a plan for a common policy that also includes tourism and which we believe will prove to the benefit of both our peoples".
Davutoglu arrived on Rhodes at noon on the yacht "Sea Wind" from Bodrum, where he is vacationing with his family.
 Environment and education minister discuss photovoltaics in schoolsEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Friday held talks with Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulos concerning energy conservation and use of renewable energy sources in schools.
A programme that the two ministries are working on envisages actions to save energy in school buildings but also the installation of photovoltaics, chiefly, that will make schools self-sufficient in energy and may even generate revenue for them.
Another issue was the construction of specially designed bioclimatic schools and using central Athens schools in efforts to refurbish run-down inner-city districts and revitalise neighbourhoods.
 Dep. Min. Sifounakis visits SamosDeputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Nikos Sifounakis on Friday visited the regions of Marathokampos and Vathi on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, both recently devastated by wildfires, and met with local inhabitants.
Sifounakis voiced the government's intention to assist the people directly affected by the fires and announced that the farmers and stockbreeders will be compensated by the agricultural compensation organization ELGA for the damage they suffered.
 Education minister stresses need for reforms in higher educationEducation Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday said that universities had "reached their limits" because of the problems in tertiary education and stressed the need for urgent and radical change.
Referring to the problems ascertained by the independent Authority for Ensuring Quality in Higher Education (ADIP), the minister said that both society and the academic community were ready to embrace reforms and announced plans to launch a dialogue culminating in a new legislative framework for higher education in September.
 IMF team head in newspaper interview: Growth in Greece will begin in 2013International Monetary Fund (IMF) European Department deputy director Poul Thomsen, who headed the IMF team of inspectors of the EU-IMF troika to Athens for the first quarterly progress report, predicted that growth would begin in Greece in 2013, in an interview appearing in the Friday edition of To Vima newspaper.
That will be when the Greek people will see that the hard times have gone, that jobs are being created, no longer in the public sector but, rather, in the private sector, and Greece will enter a stage of 'maintainable development' and they will see incomes rising, he said.
"This is the only way for raising pensions and salaries in the public sector," he added.
On the thorny issue of generating revenues and the overall restructure of the tax collection mechanism, and the timetable for the government succeeding in reducing the deficit to the 2010 targets, Thomsen said that an ad hoc team being set up will aim to collect tax revenues from people in the high-income brackets who are currently tax dodging. "The good news is that you do not need a taxation mechanism to achieve this, because you already know who have the large villas, swimming pools and connections. What is needed is the political will," he said.
Turning to the reforms foreseen in the Memorandum, which are expected to have an immediate positive impact on the economy's growth, Thomsen made special mention of the planned opening of the closed-shop professions and lifting of cabotage restrictions, adding that, "without doubt, there are established interests that will react, but you need to think smart and choose the right battles".
 Tourism trends vary around the countryTourism figures this year are puzzling industry officials who are finding it difficult to accurately predict tourism trends in the country. Speaking to ANA-MPA, Culture and Tourism Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis, said he was optimistic over developments this tourist season and noted that tourist arrivals at Greek airports were satisfactory in July. More analytically, tourist arrivals on the island of Rhodes grew 11.4 pct, and on the island of Kos were up 11.2 pct and on Corfu up 5.0 pct. Tourist arrivals were down in Iraklion (1.6 pct) and Chania (2.3 pct), although passenger traffic to Crete, by sea, jumped 25 pct. Tourist arrivals to Athens and Thessaloniki fell 5.2 pct and 4.2 pct, respectively. Nikitiadis said he expected tourism revenues to fall by 7-9 pct this year, in line with industry predictions.
Marios Trivizas, president of the General Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises, told ANA-MPA that arrivals were down 3.0 pct currently, while Yiannis Retsos, president of the Athens-Attica Hoteliers Association said tourism in the Greek capital was faring relatively well considering the adverse conditions prevailing in the country (strike mobilisations). Figures released by Athens International Airport showed that passenger traffic was down 0.1 pct in the first half of the year.
Antonis Steliatos, president of the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association said 2010 was the worst year for the industry, with passenger traffic down 20 pct in July and 15 pct in the January-June period.
Tourism revenues were down 10 pct so far this year, compared with 2009, with hoteliers in the island offering attracting holiday packages to reverse this situation. Yiannis Economou, vice-president of the Iraklion Hoteliers' Association told ANA-MPA "we would be lucky to achieve last year's figures".
Andreas Fiorentinos, president of the Mykonos Hoteliers' Association, is optimistic regarding tourist arrivals to this cosmopolitan island in the Cyclades. He told ANA-MPA that reservations for July, August and September by foreign visitors were promising and predicted a 10 pct increase in revenues this year. He noted, however, that reservations by Greeks were down 15 pct.
Spyros Galiatsatos, president of the Kefalonia Hoteliers' Association, said tourist arrivals numbers would be up compared with 2009 as the island attracted more tourists after a campaign of discounted holiday packages.
Tourist arrivals were up 13 pct annually, but this year a 5.0 pct decline is expected. Dimitris Haritos, president of Corfu travel agents said an impressive arrival of luxury yachts in the island could raise tourism revenues.
The Ionian island reported an 1.7 pct decline in tourist arrivals at the airport so far this year, but Christina Tetradi, president of the Hoteliers' Association said losses totaled 15 pct, with domestic tourism down 50 pct compared with last year's levels.
Room occupancy rates were impressively high, according to Yiannis Fousteris from the municipality of Fira. He said Italian tourists were arriving in spectacular numbers after the island's dynamic presence in the international travel fair in Milan earlier this year.
Tourist arrivals rose 11.45 pct last month, despite a 17 pct decline in domestic tourism and lower numbers of scheduled cruise ships arrivals this year.
Hoteliers expect losses in tourism revenues and arrivals this year despite offering discount holiday packages.
 Environment ministry unveils cheaper electricity rates for disadvantagedThe Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry on Friday unveiled a programme offering cheaper electricity rates to more disadvantaged groups, such as people on very low incomes, the long-term unemployed, parents with three children and disabled persons.
According to the ministry's announcement, the measure is in line with the government's pledges to support financially weaker groups in society and protected "special groups of consumers during a difficult economic conjuncture".
The special rate is open only to those that consume less than 1,000 kWh electricity every four months and is only for a household's main residence. It amounts to a 20 percent discount on the standard rate (but part of this is, in fact, the 10 percent discount that applies to all consumers for the first 800 kWh electricity they consume every four months).
The programme is called the "Social Household Rate" and interested parties will have to apply in order to qualify. Applications are submitted online and are automatically renewed in following years, except when the conditions stipulated cease to apply.
 Greek inflation (CPI) at 5.5pct yr/yr in JulyGreek inflation was running at 5.5 percent year-on-year in July 2010, according to figures released on Friday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.), returning to 1997 levels (5.4 percent in July 1997).
More specifically, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in July 2010, as compared to July 2009, increased by 5.5%. A year earlier, the annual rate of change of the CPI was 0.6%.
The CPI in July 2010, as compared to June 2010, decreased by 0.5%. A year earlier, the monthly rate of change of the CPI was -0.7%.
In the twelve-month period June 09 - May 10 the average rate of change of the CPI was 3.1%. A year earlier, the corresponding rate of change of the CPI was 2.1%.
Also, the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices recorded a rise of 5.5 % in July 2010 as compared to July 2009.
More specifically, the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) in July 2010, as compared to July 2009, increased by 5.5%. A year earlier, the annual rate of change of the HICP was 0.7%.
The HICP in July 2010, as compared to June 2010, decreased by 0.4%. A year earlier, the monthly rate of change of the HICP was -0.7%.
In the twelve month period August 09 - July 10 the annual average rate of change of the HICP was 3.1%. A year earlier, the annual average rate of change of the HICP was 2.3%.
The European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' inspectors, who were in Athens over the past week for their first quarterly progress report on implementation of the Memorandum, have already revised upwards their predictions for inflation in Greece to a mean 4.75 percent for the year, as announced on Thursday, based chiefly on the increase in indirect taxes. Similar forecasts were made by finance minister George Papaconstantinou, who pointed out that the inflation forecast is being revised on the basis of the developments of the recent months.
According to Papaconstantinou, the target is implementation of all the special actions for revision of the institutional framework and competition, enhancing the independence of the Competition Committee, and a study on the contribution of retail trade to price competitiveness, employment and growth.
 ND on cost-of-living index, high pricesMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party development and competitiveness shadow minister and MP Costis Hatzidakis blamed the government policy on Friday for the rising cost-of-living index.
Hatzidakis stated that "the specific index has skyrocketed to nearly 6 pct turning, Greece into the European champion of high prices, considering that in the same period last year it was under 1 pct."
 Bank of Greece imposed 902,000-euro fines on 20 commercial banksThe Bank of Greece on Friday announced it has fined 20 commercial banks with 902,000 euro for breaching of market regulations in their dealings with customers and for failure to adhere to internal control system rules.
The largest fine was imposed on Attica Bank (220,000) for failure to adhere to internal control system rules, which led the bank to publish higher figures in savings and lending.
 Stocks end 1.85 pc lowerGreek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday. The composite index of the market fell 1.85 pct to end at 1,713.01 points, with turnover at 89.060 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 2.25 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.91 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.55 pct down. Banks (-3.09 pct) and Telecoms (-2.52 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (+2.80 pct) and Chemicals (+0.51 pct) scored gains. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 101 to 51 with another 53 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.66%
Personal & Household: -1.11%
Raw Materials: -2.10%
Travel & Leisure: -0.81%
Food & Beverages: -1.53%
Financial Services: -0.94%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and HBC Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.85
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.92
HBC Coca Cola: 18.71
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.39
National Bank of Greece: 11.35
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.00
Bank of Piraeus: 5.10
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to a low of 10 million euros on Friday, of which 5.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.0 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds increased to 768 basis points from 762 bps on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.20 pct and the German Bund 2.52 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.42 pct, the six-month rate 1.14 pct, the three-month 0.905 pct and the one-month rate 0.64 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium 0.35 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday with turnover at 40.285 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 7,110 contracts worth 30.087 million euros, with 25,291 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,678 contracts worth 10.198 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,480), followed by Alpha Bank (2,489), Eurobank (1,348), OTE (993), MIG (578), Piraeus Bank (567) and Mytilineos (441).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.328
Pound sterling 0.836
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.455
Japanese yen 114.05
Swiss franc 1.394
Norwegian kroner 7.940
Canadian dollar 1.357
Australian dollar 1.447
 The traditional village of Palaioi Poroi in the foothills of Mt. OlymposIn the foothills of the southeastern side of Mt. Olympos, the mythical home of the ancient Greek gods, lies the traditional village of Palaioi Poroi, at an altitude of 600 meters and surrounded by lush greenery and dense forest expanses of black pine, arbutus, walnut and cherry trees.
The quaint village, in Pieria prefecture, is dotted with 17th and 18th century stone houses of traditional Macedonian architecture, while the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios (St. George) lies in the flagstone-paved central square, near a huge old plain tree that lends its shade.
The magnificent forest above the village invites visitors to walk about the numerous footpaths and take in the exquisite natural beauty and explore the local flora and fauna, and discover the country churches of Agioi Apostoloi (Holy Apostles) and Zoodochos Pigi (Spring of Life) nestled among the trees.
The village also boasts a breathtaking panoramic view of the Thermaikos Gulf and the shores of Halkidiki.
Just 6 kilometers south of the village are the seaside villages of Neoi Poroi and Platamonas, and the magnificent aquatic landscape of Pappapouli, while Neoi Poroi also hosts the prefecture's unique natural fish farm.
The area is also dotted with dozens of natural springs famed for their crystal-clear, ice-cold water.
Palaioi Poroi is situated 45 kilometers from Katerini, the capital of Pieria prefecture.
 Crete dances for global peace and brotherhoodThe southern Aegean island of Crete will hold a "humanitarian-cultural event" with the participation of 200,000 dancers to take place on Saturday, Aug. 7, the day after the anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, in the final stages of WWII.
The organizer, the not-for-profit association "Planet Crete", announced that "local happenings will be hosted in parallel with the main event sending out messages of love and brotherhood to all the people in the world inviting them to dance and become one."
The event is held under the aegis of the four local administration authorities on the island. For more information, visit: www.200000.gr <http://www.200000.gr>.
 Athens mayor commemorates Hiroshima, Nagasaki tragediesOn the occasion of Friday's 65th Commemoration of the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis has sent a small olive tree symbolizing world peace to the Embassy of Japan in Athens, as well as a letter of support from Athens to the Japanese nation, the Athens municipality announced on Friday.
"Each year at this time, the hearts and minds of humanity in its entirety can be found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Beyond our sincere expression of sorrow for the tragic cost in terms of the loss of the lives of our fellow people, each year we confirm with ever greater resolve our demand for eternal peace and unite our voices in order to secure the conditions through which peace will become a fundamental reality," the mayor wrote in the letter, asking the ambassador to convey his warmest wishes for peace, progress and prosperity to the mayors and citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
 Fire near refinery extinguishedA fire that broke out earlier on Friday in a recycling plant near the Hellenic Petroleum oil refinery in Aspropyrgos has been put out, the fire brigade said.
Fire-fighting forces remain on the scene to record the damage caused by the fire, which began in a pile of plastic refuse on the site.
The fire brigade went on red alert on Friday when a fire was reported near the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) oil refinery in Aspropyrgos.
A strong fire-fighting force was sent to put out the blaze, which had started on Friday afternoon. It turned out to be outside the refinery grounds and perimeter wall, in a nearby recycling plant where piles of plastic refuse caught fire, near a group of containers also owned by the company.
Fire-engines, machinery and men on foot were being used to put out the flames.
 Financial crimes squad investigating suspected investment fraudGreece's financial crimes squad SDOE on Friday revealed that it was currently investigating a suspected case of fraud involving dozens of investors and large sums of money. The case involves an Greek man presenting himself as an economist working for a U.S.-based investment firm, who has managed to extract large amounts of money from clients by promising huge returns.
SDOE has not released the suspect's name nor that of the firm he is supposed to represent but notes that the specific company is not licensed to provide investment services in Greece and does not appear to be registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The financial crimes squad was alerted to the man's activities after a Greek bank reported that large sums were being deposited into the alleged economist's account by people that had been promised high returns.
SDOE has investigated the man's business and personal accounts, including joint accounts with his spouse in Greek banks and has frozen enormous sums (15 million euro and 11 million dollars in one case). The investigation has shown that sums deposited into the alleged investment firm's account were initially withdrawn in cash and then paid into the personal account of the Greek economist representing the firm.
 4.6R quake off CreteA light earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale jolted the island of Crete at dawn on Friday.
The earthquake recorded at 5:37 a.m. in the sea region 75 kilometers south of Crete.
No damage was reorted.
According to seismologists, the quake is part of the normal seismic activity in the area.
 Gavdos island residents hold protest demanding regular ferry serviceThe port of the small island of Gavdos, south of Crete, was blockaded by local people on Friday morning protesting against the cancellation of the passenger ferry service linking their island with Crete that has resulted in a dramatic 80 pct reduction in tourist arrivals.
Following the cancellation of the regular ferry service decided in compliance with an EU Directive, only small boats operate the Gavdos - Crete run which can transport a very limited number of passengers.
The local people will decide on the fate of their mobilization in a meeting later on Friday.
 'Odyssey-reading' marathon on KosThe "Homer Days" events on the island of Kos, southeast Aegean, will be completed on Aug. 7 with a 12-hour marathon, night-long audience participation reading/singing of the "Odyssey" performed in 20 languages by 200 participants of all ages and backgrounds.
The marathon reading will begin at 8 pm on Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Medieval Castle of Kos.
The "Homer Days" events were held on Kos under the aegis of the local government in cooperation with the international non-profit organization "The readers of Homer" (www.thereadersofhomer.org <http://www.thereadersofhomer.org>.).
 Balkan youths visit ThessalonikiTen young people from Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, aged 18-30, all members of the Network of Balkan Cities for "Culture, Friendship, Cooperation", visited the seaport of Thessaloniki for a week and toured the archaeological sites of Vergina and Pella.
They also visited the Cave of Petralona in Halkidiki, while on Friday they were received by the prefect of Thessaloniki.
The network was established a year ago to promote cooperation in the Balkan region through culture.
 Cannabis plantation destroyed by Crete policeA cannabis plantation was destroyed in a rural region near the village of Akamotos, Heraklion Prefecture, on the island of Crete, police said on Friday.
A total of 166 cannabis plants, between 30 cm and 3 meters tall, were uprooted after a police stakeout in the region aimed at arresting the plantation grower proved to be fruitless as no suspect showed up.
 Main sunny on SaturdayMainly sunny weather is forecast on Saturday, with slightly cooler temperatures but high humidity. Winds variable, between 2 and 5 Beaufort. Temperatures between 17C and 37C. Sunny in Attica with temperatures from 23C to 37C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 22C to 33C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEuropean Commission, ECB and IMF troika experts' first quarterly progress report on the implementation of the Memorandum and the priorities for the following period, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou's reassurances that there will be no lay-offs in Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO) and 13th and 14th salaries will not be abolished in the private sector, and the deregulation of energy market dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New collection measures not ruled out in order for the government to secure the EU-IMF loan's third installment".
APOGEVMATINI: "IMF: And now, time for the rich to pay».
AVGHI: "25 billion euros 'dowry' to the banks".
AVRIANI: "Polls burned the government's plan for PPC's part-privatisation and lay-offs in Hellenic Railways (OSE)".
ELEFTHEROS: "Troika was aghast with the incompetent ministers".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Lay-offs in Hellenic Railways and Public Utilities and Organisations".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "New 25 billion euros 'dowry' to the banks".
ESTIA: "Clear targets for Greece - Troika's presence fruitful".
ETHNOS: "Green light with five 'yellow cards' - Troika's recommendations lead to a hot autumn".
IMERISSIA: "25 billion euros package to the banks aiming to boost liquidity through new loans".
KATHIMERINI: "DEKO front opens - After troika's praise Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas left open the possibility of 1,000 lay-offs in Hellenic Railways (OSE)".
LOGOS: "Troika puts on more pressure".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "25 billion euros additional guarantees to the banks".
NIKI: "Who will be fired from public sector and how".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government and troika leading the people to the monopolies' labyrinth".
TA NEA: "Papaconstantinou's five pledges".
TO VIMA: "Poul Thomsen (head of IMF delegation) to newspaper: Deregulation now and salary raises from 2013".
VRADYNI: "New 25 billion euros injection to banks to support the liquidity and ....mergers".
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