|Wednesday, 21 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 30 November 2010 Issue No: 3658
 FinMin: Greece aims to return to markets in 2011A decision taken by the Eurogroup on Sunday to examine the possibility of extending the loan repayment period for Greece is a "very significant addition, paving the way for an earlier opening of markets", Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister stressed that the Memorandum signed between Greece and the troika of EU/ECB/IMF ends in 2013, while the period for repaying the loan was extended to 2024, and added: "We hope that the extension will cover the next loan tranche scheduled for March 2011, worth 15 billion euros".
He clarified that "it is obvious that following the termination of the Memorandum, the country will remain within a new more austere framework of the European Union, which focuses on creating primary surpluses and setting a debt criterion".
He noted that keeping the fiscal deficit below 3.0 pct of GDP and creating annual primary surpluses on a permanent basis "will allow the distribution of a social dividend to the most vulnerable groups of the population, which have contributed the most to the fiscal consolidation effort".
According to a timetable set by the Eurogroup, a decision to extend the loan repayment period for Greece was a technical issue to be resolved in the first two months of 2011. Some of the technical matters are whether the extension decision will cover the entire 110-bln-euro loan or the remaining tranches of the loan. Certain Eurogroup countries (such as Germany) will have to ratify the extension agreement through their parliaments, while the interest on the Greek loan would have to raised to 5.8 pct (as in the case of Ireland) from around 4.0 pct (fluctuating) or 5.5 pct (fixed) currently. Following the termination of the memorandum in 2013 the country will remain within the European Commission's framework, while the IMF will publish reports periodically, and the troika will not exist as it is today, Papaconstantinou said, adding that Greece has never asked for an extension of its loan repayment period.
The Greek minister clarified that European parliaments will approve the plan in January-February and noted that this development "makes it more necessary to strictly adhere to the terms of the memorandum". He said the government's goals remained a return to capital markets in 2011, as such a move would open markets for Greek banks as well as boosting liquidity in the economy.
Papaconstantinou also said a decision on a permanent European support mechanism (to be approved by an EU Summit in December) was a compromise, one which delicately defines any participation of private investors in the mechanism, while it clearly defines countries with "liquidity problems" and countries with "survival problems".
Commenting on the European Commission's autumn economic forecasts, Papaconstantinou said they were in line with budget provisions.
Speaking hours later at the annual conference in Athens of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, Papaconstantinou said deliberations amongst international market leaders centred on the fact that Greece must tame its public debt, while at the same time jumpstarting growth.
He added, along these lines, that a prerequisite for growth is funding.
 EU agrees Irish bailout, to examine alignment of Greek, Irish debt maturitiesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Eurogroup and Ecofin finance ministers on Sunday agreed an 85 billion euro bail-out plan for Ireland and the guidelines for a permanent EU support mechanism for resolving debt crises in the eurozone that will replace the existing temporary mecha-nisms concerning the 110 billion euro EU-IMF support loan to Greece and of other eurozone countries respectively. The agreement also calls for "examination of the necessity of aligning the maturities of the financing for Greece to that of Ireland".
Sunday's decisions will be enshrined in Eurogroup and Council decisions to be formally adopted on December 6-7.
A statement issued after the meeting stated that the ministers "unanimously agreed today to grant financial assistance in response to the Irish authorities' request of November 22, 2010" which will be provided "on the basis of a program which has been negotiated with the Irish authorities by the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in liaison with the European Central Bank (ECB)".
The statement also said that "the Eurogroup will rapidly examine the necessity of aligning the maturities of the financing for Greece to that of Ireland".
Further, European leaders, at snap meeting, decided the creation of a Permanent Eurozone Crisis Mechanism to be put in effect in the second half of 2013, which will replace the existing temporary mechanisms that expire in 2013.
The necessity of alignment of the Greek and Irish loan maturities was stressed at a press conference afterwards by Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn.
"The ministers decided that we should look into the alignment of loan maturities of financing for Greece and that of Ireland. It should now kill off any remaining doubt of the capacity of Greece to repay its debt," Rehn told the press conference.
"All together the EU-IMF programme for Ireland a future European stabilization mechanism with clear rules and the forthcoming prolongation of maturities for Greek loans, constitute decisive elements which will help to dispel any doubt about Europe's will and ability to safeguard the financial stability in Europe," he said.
"As regards interest rates and the pricing policy, we shall apply the IMF equivalent pricing practices in line with the Greek loan package. The precise interest rate will be decided next week and as I said, that will be in line with the IMF standard practices," Rehn added.
According to Greek diplomatic sources, this in practice means that the loan amortization period for Greece will be 11 years, against the current five years under the Memorandum.
 Juncker reiterates optimism for GreeceTRIPOLI (ANA-MPA/N. Lionakis)
Eurogroup president and Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated his certainty that Greece will succeed, in statements to the press on the sidelines of the 3rd EU-Africa Summit that opened in the Libyan capital on Tuesday.
Juncker noted that the Greeks are an intelligent people and are able to succeed, despite the difficulties they face today.
He also said that Sunday's meeting of the eurogroup had been quite difficult and, referring to the decisions taken, stressed that "we had to move on" and that "we could not wait".
 Rehn: Extending loan repayment period 'very significant' for GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
The European Commission will examine a plan to align borrowing terms for Greece and Ireland, EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn said on Monday. Speaking to reporters here, the Finnish Commissioner underlined the significance of extending a loan repayment period for Greece.
Commenting on the Commission's autumn forecasts for the Greek economy, Rehn said that following a long period of imbalances, the measures and structural reforms adopted by the Greek government are leading the economy into a restructuring phase. He echoed the Commission's forecast of predicting that the Greek economy will return to growth rates in 2012 and begin cutting its public debt from 2014.
 ND: Extension of repayment period positive if not accompanied by new measuresMain opposition New Democracy (ND) on Monday said that extension of Greece's EU-IMF loan repayment period is positive, provided it is not accompanied by an agreement for new, harsh measures.
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos, speaking on a private radio station, added that ND is in favor of reforms and structural changes, noting that it was ND leader Antonis Samaras himself who had urged the government to "move in the right direction".
 LA.OS leader on debt repayment extensionOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis on Monday said an extension of the debt repayment scheme by itself is not enough, and recommended the issuing of a new 25-year state bond.
Speaking to an Athens radio station, Karatzaferis referred to the Greek-Turkish relations, and pointed out that for the first time Turkey's course to Europe is blocked by obstacles.
Referring to the domestic developments, he rejected layoffs and backed the implementation of the employee transfer measure in the public sector.
 Greece has 'vital interests' in Africa, PM says at EU-Africa summitTRIPOLI (ANA-MPA - N. Lionakis)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, in Libya to attend the 3rd EU-Africa Summit, on Monday stressed that Greece, as a Mediterranean country and neighbour to north Africa, had vital interests in the region.
"Cooperation between us has a real and significant future," Papandreou told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting. As potential areas for developing cooperation he cited action on climate change, illegal migration and energy issues.
"Africa is increasingly becoming a developing area, [one that is] dynamic and with many prospects for the Greek and European economy," he said.
Greece wanted to revive ties with Greek communities throughout Africa, which could act as a bridge and a link for even greater cooperation with African cities," he added.
The Greek prime minister had a series of meetings on the sidelines of the meeting, holding talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi concerning cooperation in the Mediterranean, relations between Greece and Libya and the prospects after the signature of a strategic cooperation memorandum between the two countries signed in June.
Papandreou also met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Tripoli to receive the Gaddafi award for human rights.
Further brief meetings by the Greek premier on the sidelines of the summit were with Portugal's premier Jose Socrates and Ireland's foreign ministry secretary general David Cooney that focused on the latest developments within the EU and Sunday's decisions by the Eurogroup.
In talks with S. Africa President Jacob Zuma, Papandreou discussed issues concerning South Africa's expatriate Greeks.
 PM addresses 3rd EU-Africa SummitTRIPOLI (ANA-MPA/N.Lionakis)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called on Monday for a "sustainable development" adding that growth should be "green", while addressing the 3rd EU-Africa Summit which opened in Tripoli, Libya, on Monday with the participation of approximately 80 European and African heads of state and government, the European Council and European Commission presidents and the eurogroup president.
"Whatever we do must be done with justice. And this is not understood by our peoples today when banks are being saved but the peoples are those who pay the price, when profits are being privatised while damages are being socialised, when the rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer," Papandreou said.
"Our common message must be sustainable growth" adding that growth should be "green". What is needed, he said, is a better life for all, social justice and struggle against poverty and inequalities.
"We must safeguard, for future generations, our natural resources, we must humanise globalisation," the Greek premier noted.
"It would be a hypocricy if we spoke af a democratic governance on a national level," Papandreou also said, adding that this is being shown by the current economic crisis in which "decisions surpass today our countries and there are others who decide."
"Henceforth, democracy must become global," he added.
 Papandreou has meeting with Padoa-SchioppaPrime Minister George Papandreou held consultations on Sunday evening with his economic advisor Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, according to reports.
The reports said that the meeting focused on developments in the European Union and the ongoing consultations in view of the December Summit which will deal with the establishment of a permanent support mechanism fro the Union.
 Medvedev eyes meeting with Papandreou in AstanaMOSCOW (ANA-MPA / Th. Avgerinos)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev plans several bilateral contacts with foreign leaders on the sidelines of a two-day OSCE summit in Astana, Kazakhstan - which opens on Wednesday - including with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.
"We want to profit from our stay in Astana for the holding of a series of important meetings, both with the Kazakh President as well as other leaders," Medvedev's assistant, Sergei Prikhotko, told reporters at the Kremlin on Monday, adding that a meeting with Papandreou is being prepared.
 ND leader Samaras proposes new social contractMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras poroposed "a new social contract with entrepreneurs and workers", during his address on Monday evening at the 21st annual conference at the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, entitled "The Greek Economy-Rebuilding Greek Credibility"
Samaras strongly criticised the government, comparing it with the example of Ireland, and accused it of not negotiating enough the terms of the memorandum with the troika and called for an altered economic policy mix.
The new social contract proposed by the ND leader concerns the entrepreneurs through the implementation of radical tax reforms, reduction of tax indexes, gradual reduction of VAT and social insurance contributions and adoption of tax incentives to attract new investments, including a well-targeted investment law and less red-tape.
As regards wage earners, Samaras suggested measures to prevent the closing of businesses thus combating unemployment and the creation of a shield against mass layoffs.
He maintained that mass layoffs in the greater public sector will not reduce the deficit due to increased payments of unemployment benefits, reduced taxation revenues and consumer turnover.
Samaras' new social contract with entrepreneurs and workers would focus on the immediate economic recovery and long-term development.
The ND leader also referred to the European Commission's report and maintained that the government's predictions were wrong once again as regards the state deficit. Samaras underlined that according to the European Commission report, the 2012 deficit will be above 7.5 pct of the GDP which means that the government's economic policy will lead to a deficit increase instead of a reduction two years after the implementation of the memorandum and despite the sacrifices made by the Greek people.
Samaras made a comparison with Ireland maintaining that the case of Ireland is a reflection of what the Greek government did not dare or did not want to do, adding that Ireland's negotiation has benefited Greece.
 FM spokesman lambasts local press report dealing with ministry document? foreign ministry spokesman on Monday sharply criticised an article in an Athens weekly, appearing on Saturday, referring to a selective publication of excerpts of a note signed by the foreign ministry directorate , as well as a total distortion of the text.
Spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras also referred to what he called an "arbitrary interpretation of the content and aim of the document" as well as blatant "misinformation", in lambasting the publication in the weekly "Kosmos tou Ependiti" -- under the headline "Secret negotiations are brought to light".
The news report revealed the content of an office document noting that "constitutes presentation of the limits of the Greek continental shelf in eastern Mediterranean", "revelation of the Turkish demands concerning an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), continental shelf and Kastellorizo" as well as "the Greek positions".
It was clarified that the document in question has no relation with the exploratory contacts process but "followed a relevant question by the service leadership aimed at exploring certain technical and legal aspects concerning the continental shelf to appropriately shape a Greek response to groundless Turkish allegations as regards our protests concerning the violation of the Greek continental shelf."
The foreign ministry spokesman underlined that "the allegations on criminal negligence are without content, aimed at creating impressions", while he also dismissed what he called a "theory of 'secret diplomacy' (which) serves only the prolongation of a phobic perception of the country's foreign relations".
Finally, the foreign ministry spokesman underlined that the responsible Parliamentary committee and the National Council on Foreign Policy will be briefed in detail on all issues concerning the EU enlargement and the Greek-Turkish relations by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.
 Education reform dialogue opensA dialogue on reform of the education sector begins on Monday, with the first meeting of the Inter-Party Committee on Education, chaired by minister Anna Diamantopoulou.
Sitting on the Committee are one representative each from the ruling PASOK party, main opposition New Democracy (ND), the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, the Democratic Left party and the Ecologists-Greens, as well as the chairperson of parliament's Standing Committee on Educational Affairs.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) have stated they will not take part in the proceedings.
 Justice minister announces measures to improve prison health care, comments on protestsJustice Minister Haris Kastanidis on Monday announced measures to improve health care in prisons amid an uneasy climate and rumours of imminent protest action in the country's correctional facilities.
The minister said that protests so far were confined to the Korydallos, Patras and Grevena prisons, out of 33 correctional facilities in total, where some inmates were not taking meals.
The minister announced the start of collaboration with university hospitals throughout the country and with recognised non-governmental organisations to arrange for voluntary psychiatric care and other medical services in prisons. Also present as he made the announcement were the directors of hospitals and representatives of the NGOs involved.
Arrangements for the programme to provide psychiatric support to inmates were made earlier this month, while psychiatrists and other specialists have already begun visiting prisons and examining inmates.
The Athens School of Medicine, meanwhile, has begun a pilot programme for the prevention and control of TB at Korydallos prison as part of its post-graduate programme, in collaboration with Doctors of the World and the prison's Agios Pavlos hospital.
This will include screening for TB, chest x-rays for inmates that test positive in the Mantoux test and taking samples from 'suspect' incidents in order to reduce incidents of TB in the prison population and prevent its spread to the general population.
Doctors of the World, meanwhile, will send a team of doctors to Grevena prison for a week to provide full medical check-ups to all the inmates there, as well as visits to Korydallos and Grevena before the end of the year to assess the situation in both prisons.
Inmates at the women's prison in Elaionas are to be given free breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings as part of another pilot programme, while children held with their mothers at Elaionas and Korydallos prisons are to be given a development assessment by doctors from Agia Sophia children's hospital.
Kastanidis said that the ministry intends to buy a portable digital x-ray machine for the Agios Pavlos prisoners' hospital to help in the diagnosis of TB. Doctors noted that the number of prisoners with TB in Greek prisons is currently small and that the health measures aim to prevent the spread of the disease.
Commenting on prison protests, meanwhile, Kastanidis suggested in statements on Monday that these were being incited by "certain parties that want things in prisons to remain stagnant, motionless, because if they are stagnant and motionless they will have allies that they can mobilise."
Feeling threatened by the current leadership that was trying to make the prison system more humane, these parties were trying to engineer conditions of crisis, the minister asserted.
Kastanidis noted that letters signed by specific lawyers on behalf of specific initiatives were circulating in prisons in recent weeks, urging prisoners to protest and had been systematically distributed to inmates throughout the prison system. He pointed out that this was happening at a time when a series of major reforms to improve prison conditions was about to be voted on in Parliament.
The inmates joining in the protests have made 12 demands, some of which authorities consider unrealistic and extreme, such as a demand that those serving life sentences be released after 12 years imprisonment.
 Health minister discusses nat'l health systems with former ministersHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos and former ministers who held the specific portfolio in the past met on Monday to discuss the future of the National Health System (ESY).
The former health ministers who attended the meeting included Apostolos Kaklamanis, Paraskevas Avgerinos, Anastasios Peponis, Yiannis Floros, Dimitris Kremastinos, Costas Gitonas, Giorgos Sourlas, Dimitris Sioufas, Marietta Yiannakou, Dimitris Avramopoulos and Nikitas Kaklamanis.
Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou did not attend due to an earlier engagement while Loukas Papadimas and Alekos Papadopoulos did not attend due to health reasons.
 Commission: Greek economy to return to growth in 2012BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The Greek economy will return to growth in 2012, an announcement by the European Commission on Monday predicted.
In its autumn forecasts for the European economy in the period 2010-2012, published in Brussels, the EU's executive said the Greek economy will shrink by 4.2 pct this year, slowing to a still -3.0 pct in 2011 only to return to positive growth rates (1.1 pct) in 2012.
The Commission said it expected the country's fiscal deficit to drop to 9.6 pct of GDP this year; falling 7.4 pct in 2011, but rising again to 7.6 pct in 2012. As far as the unemployment figure, it is projected to rise to 12.5 pct in 2010, jumping to 15 pct in 2011 and rising slightly to 15.2 pct in 2012.
The Commission also forecasts that Greek inflation will rise to 4.6 pct this year; falling to 2.2 pct in 2011 and to 0.5 pct in 2012. Greece's public debt will total 140.2 pct of GDP this year, rising to 150.2 pct in 2011 and to 156 pct of GDP in 2012. All the above estimates are based on the assumption that there will be no change in the country's economic policy.
The Commission forecasts that the Eurozone economy will grow by 1.7 pct this year, slowing to 1.5 pct in 2011 and rising again to 1.8 pct in 2012. The fiscal deficit in the Eurozone is projected to totaled 6.3 pct of GDP this year, falling to 4.6 pct in 2011 and to 3.9 pct of GDP in 2012. Unemployment is projected to reach 10.1 pct in the Eurozone this year, falling to 10 pct in 2011 and to 9.6 pct in 2012. The inflation rate is projected to total 1.5 pct in the Eurozone this year, rising to 1.8 pct in 2011 and easing again to 1.7 pct in 2012. The public debt in the Eurozone is projected to reach 84.1 pct of GDP this year, rising to 86.5 pct in 2011 and to 87.7 pct in 2012.
The entire Commission text follows:
A decade of expansionary fiscal policies resulted in the build-up of unsustainably high fiscal (high general government deficit and gross debt stock, rising interest payments) and macroeconomic (high current-account deficit and external debt, outflow of income) imbalances.
Following the escalation of the debt crisis in spring 2010 and the setting-up of the three-year Economic Adjustment Programme, Greece adopted comprehensive fiscal consoli-dation measures. They are expected to have a dampening impact on domestic demand in 2010 and the first half of 2011. However, successful and credible fiscal adjustment efforts should boost confidence and improve sentiment. Credibility gains are expected to compensate for the economic cost of adjustment and lead to the beginning of a recovery in the second half of 2011. Sustained fiscal consolidation would support the much needed rebalancing of the economy towards a higher positive contribution to growth of the external sector.
The recent downward revision of annual real GDP data for 2009 (almost -2?% compared with -2% previously) will have an adverse impact on real GDP dynamics in 2010. Moreover, the sharp drop in domestic demand (investment and private consumption in particular) in the first nine months of 2010 points to a significant contraction in economic activity. Despite the recovery in the third quarter, negative average exports growth so far also weighs on this year's economic performance.
Market pressures and high spreads have been keeping up the cost of and limiting private sector access to financing. Credit expansion has been decelerating on the back of tighter credit conditions and high household indebtedness. High frequency and leading indicators suggest that the economy will lose further steam in the current year, before the recovery kicks in during the second half of 2011. For the year as a whole, economic activity is set to contract by -4?% in 2010. In the short term, fiscal tightening will have a strong contraction impact on economic activity, on the back of cuts in public wages, an increasing tax burden and ensuing declining disposable income and public spending. Real GDP is expected to further decline by 3% in 2011 - mainly due to carry-over effects - while growth is expected to turn around positively during the second half of the year, with the recovery gaining further momentum in 2012. The contraction of economic activity, reflected in weakening labour demand from the retail, wholesale and construction sectors, is weighing heavily on employment which is set to fall by more than 5% over the forecast horizon. Reduced employment opportunities in the private sector, along with the recruitment freeze and cuts in short-term contracts in the public sector will push the unemployment rate up to just below 15% in
2012. Negative employment growth and declining wages should weigh on disposable income over the medium-term, dampening real demand. The households saving rate would turn positive already in 2010. As a result, private consumption is projected to contract by around 4% in 2010 and further 4?% in 2011, before returning to a moderately positive growth rate at the end of the forecast horizon.
Gross fixed capital has been falling since the beginning of 2009, on the back investment retrenchment in both housing and equipment. Public investment activity is expected to remain particularly depressed in 2010 and 2011, as a result of continued fiscal consolidation efforts. Tighter credit conditions and subdued domestic demand
The contraction in domestic demand will be sustained over the forecast horizon, mirrored also by shrinking imports. Total exports, which started to recover already in 2010, will be further enhanced in 2011-12 by labour cost developments and favourable external demand factors. Exports of goods should rise by around 5?% in 2011 and increase further in 2012, while exports of services - in particular world trade sensitive merchant shipping and tourist receipts - should recover at a similar pace. All in all, the contribution of net exports to GDP growth should be highly positive in 2010-12, due to both the accelerating pick-up in exports and the ongoing contraction in imports.
The risks to this baseline scenario are broadly balanced. On the positive side, the resurgence of both consumer and business confidence and the gradual improvement of liquidity and capitalisation of Greek banks may help to sustain credit expansion at modest levels, which could underpin private consumption and foster investment. In addition, the contribution of net exports to GDP growth may turn out to be stronger than projected, should the impact of ongoing and planned structural reforms materialise more swiftly. On the negative side, the contraction in imports may prove to be more transitory and less pronounced than expected (especially towards the end of the forecast horizon). If tighter credit conditions persist, external financing to the private sector could prove less buoyant and so the servicing of Greece's high external debt might crowd out domestic spending.
Inflationary pressures have built up in the course of 2010, fuelled by the VAT-rates rises in March and July and the increase in excise duties on alcohol, tobacco and fuel. Based on price developments in the first ten months of the year, annual inflation in 2010 should exceed 4?% on average. The large impact of taxes on inflation, in the context of a severe recession, calls for strong and frontloaded structural reforms targeting the existing inflexibilities in domestic markets. Looking forward, both headline and core inflation should decline, as base effects and tax effects fade out, and slack in the economy and wage moderation start feeding through.
Higher-than-expected tax-driven inflation has not produced any evidence so far of an adverse wage-price spiral that could push labour costs higher. In fact, the competitiveness losses accumulated in recent years will start to be reversed over the forecast horizon, mainly due to a faster-than-expected labour market adjustment. This will spur labour reallocation and hasten real wage adjustment. The wage cuts in the public sector, their expected spill-over effect in the private sector and the moderate recent private sector minimum wage agreements (the minimum wage will be frozen in 2010 and will increase by 1.5% in July 2011 and 1.7% in July 2012) are expected to push unit labour cost down, after a long period of rapid growth. Private sector average wages are projected to respond accordingly to the strong downturn and the fall in employment, thus contributing to partial recovery of the competitiveness losses.
Developments in the external sector have already kick-started a partial correction of the external deficit in 2010. Further improvement over the medium term is expected, driven by accelerating exports growth and falling imports. The current-account deficit is expected to decline to 8% of GDP in 2011 and to move closer to 6% of GDP in 2012, down from 10?% of GDP in 2010.Expected competitiveness gains and the benefits from ongoing structural reforms may result in an even faster adjustment of the current-account balance.
The 2009 general government deficit notified by the Greek authorities in November 2010 stands at 15?% of GDP, 1? pps. higher than the previous notification made in April 2010. Eurostat has lifted the reservations on Greek deficit and debt figures expressed in October 2009 and April 2010(74) and (74) Eurostat (news release 149/2009) has expressed a reservation on the data reported by Greece on 21 October 2009, due to significant uncertainties over the figures notified by the Greek statistical authorities.
This upward revision has been higher-than-anticipated. The major elements of the revision concerned the sector reclassification of public enterprises and their inclusion in general government, the significantly worse-than-expected fiscal position of the social security sector and the accounting of off-market swaps. At the same time, general government gross debt in 2009was revised upward by 11?% of GDP, reaching almost 127% of GDP.
For 2010, the official general government deficit estimate stands at around 9?% of GDP (EUR 22.3 bn), 1?% of GDP above the original target of 8% of GDP (EUR 18.5 bn). About one third of the shortfall is explained by propagation effects of Eurostat revisions of the 2009 fiscal statistics. The remaining two-thirds would be explained by revenue underperformance of some 1?% of GDP (EUR 4 bn) compared with the initial revenue Target.
The 2011 budget (as submitted to Parliament on 18 November) foresees additional measures amounting to 2?% of GDP, which should be sufficient to reach the 2011 deficit target of 7?% of GDP. This would bring total fiscal consolidation measures in 2011 - including those agreed in May - to 5?% of GDP. About two-thirds of the agreed new measures are on the expenditure side, and most of them are structural in nature. They include cuts in unproductive and untargeted spending, a reduction in short term contracts in the public sector, better targeting of universal household subsidies, and better management and use of state assets, particularly in the collection of arrears.
Taking into account the consolidation measures for 2012 agreed under the Economic Adjustment Programme in May (but no additional ones) and on the back of the discontinuation of one-off measures to be implemented in 2011, the headline deficit should exceed 7?% of GDP in 2012. Debt would increase from 126?% of GDP in 2009 to 156% of GDP in 2012.
 Greece allocates 25 bln euros in state guarantees to banksThe allocation of a new 25-billion-euro package of state guarantees between Greek banks was decided on Monday during a meeting between Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor George Provopoulos and the Hellenic Bank Association board, held in the presence of Finance Minister George Papacon-stantinou.
According to reports, the plan, already at the ministry of finance for approval, provides that guarantees eyed for banks to be proportional to their size and the market shares they own. Therefore, each of the four largest banks will receive guarantees estimated at between 3 and 4 billion euros.
 Skandalidis at EU farm ministers' meetingBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)
A EU farm ministers' council convened here on Monday, focusing on the Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) over the next years and even until 2020.
Greek Agricultural Development and Foodstuffs Minister Costas Skandalidis expressed support for a CAP that will guarantee sufficiency and quality in European food and crop productions, protection of natural resources and an emphasis on the development of rural regions.
"We need an agricultural sector that effectively can handle the present economic crisis and the unprincipled fluctuations of prices and markets," Skandalidis noted.
 SEV president addresses chamber con'fFederation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos on Monday underlined that a "complex comprising the state and closed-shop interests is patronising the country and constitutes major problem in the country's governance."
Speaking in the 21st annual conference on "The Greek Economy-Rebuilding Greek Credibility" hosted by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, he said that "getting rid of this complex is a primary precondition in order to build a modern society and economy."
He stressed that development and economic growth will come when "a complete and internationally acceptable economic, business, legal, administrative and environmental framework is formed."
"Those rejecting the memorandum signed with the troika in essence reject the reality that led to it and suggest self-delusion as a remedy. In effect, they reproduce the catastrophic attitude that led us to the current situation," he concluded.
 Civil mobilisation ordered for striking seamenThe maritime affairs ministry on Monday afternoon announced the civil mobilisation of merchant seamen serving in the domestic coastal shipping sector, following a decision by a union representing the latter to declare another 48-hour strike hours earlier.
The strike, patterned on rolling 48-hour industrial actions, has continued for the past seven days.
"Unfortunately, the intransigence of both sides and the display of social irresponsibility have led to another deadend, and the continuation of the strike. The result of these actions has caused a dire social need, particularly for the public health, due to the shortages of pharmaceuticals and medical services towards sensitive populations in our islands," Minister Yiannis Diamantidis said in a statement.
The board of the seamen's federation (PNO) voted, 11 in favour to four against, to continue with another 48-hour strike on Monday afternoon.
 Seamen extend strike for further 48 hoursGreece's seamens union PNO on Monday announced its decision to extend strike action by another 48 hours, from 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. In a vote taken by the PNO leadership on Monday, there were 11 votes for extending the strike and four against.
The strike, which has already lasted about a week and effectively cut off transportation of goods to the Greek islands, will include all categories of ships for which no collective labour agreement has been signed. They include passenger and car ferries to Greek islands and short-haul freighters under 500 dwt plying Mediterranean routes.
Earlier on Monday, the government said that it has not ruled out the possibility of declaring a civil mobilisation in the coastal shipping sector to end the ongoing strike by the seamen's union (PNO), mostly held in the form of rolling 48-hour industrial actions.
Speaking to a local radio station in Athens, Maritime Affairs Minister Yiannis Diamantidis reiterated that the "state cannot allow our country to remain cut in two, with goods unable to be transported due to pay hike demands by seamen, at the same time when others get no wage increases ... all of the possibilities to deal with the problem are open," he said.
Diamantidis said a pending meeting between union representatives and coastal shipping owners and officials will yield results on Monday. The minister is also scheduled to meet with the union's leadership and the president of the shipowners' federation.
 Nationwide media strike on TuesdayA nationwide media strike has been called for Tuesday, November 30, throughout Greece, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
The Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA) will be taking part in the strike, and as such there will be no news services during that time.
News transmission will resume normally after 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
 National Bank reports lower nine-month resultsNational Bank of Greece Group on Monday said its nine-month net profits totaled 259 million euros, burdened by extra tax charges, losses suffered from its Greek state securities' portfolio and increasing bad debt provisions. The Group said it managed to raise its pre-provision and financial results profitability by 6.0 pct, to maintain high cash flow and to boost its capital adequacy ratio to 13.1 pct along with strengthening its balance sheet through higher provisions (991 million euros, up 31 pct from the same period last year).
Net consolidated earnings totaled 113 million euros in the third quarter of 2010, down from 125 million euros in 2009, income rose 4.0 pct reflecting a 7.0 pct increase in net interest result, while net interest margin was unchanged at 4.0 pct.
Operating spending rose 3.0 pct in the January-September period, although they fell 1.0 pct on a quarterly basis.
In Greece, losses totaled 181 million euros reflecting an extra tax charge (93 million euros) and losses totaling 338 million euros from its state bond portfolio. Nine-month results were also affected by higher bad debt provisions (725 million euros from 431 million euros last year), while organic results grew 8.0 pct.
In Turkey, Finansbank's net earnings totaled 369 million euros in the nine-month period, up 4.0 pct from the same period in 2009, remaining at a record high for the third consecutive quarter. Deposits jumped 3 pct and loans were up 22 pct.
In Southeastern Europe, National Bank Group reported net profits totaling 67 million euros in the January-September period, down 11 pct from last year, while pre-tax and provision profits were up 6.0 pct to 218 million euros.
 Credit expansion slows in Oct.Credit expansion slowed further in October for annual growth rate of 1.0 pct, down from 1.2 pct in September and 4.1 pct in December 2009, the Bank of Greece announced on Monday.
The central bank, in a report, said funding towards enterprises recorded a negative flow of 387 million euros, for an annual growth rate of 2.2 pct in October, down from 2.3 pct in September and 5.1 pct in December 2009.
Annual growth rate of new funding improved in the sectors of manufacturing (-0.8 pct in October, -1.9 pct in September), commerce (-1.9 pct in October, -2.3 pct in September) and communications and transport -excluding shipping- (-0.5 pct in October, -0.6 pct in September), while it remained negative in financial institutions (4.2 pct in October, 2.4 pct in September). Credit expansion growth slowed in all other sectors of the economy: farm (0.8 pct in October, 1.2 pct in September), tourism (4.3 pct and 4.5 pct respectively), shipping (7.3 pct and 8.2 pct) constructions (2.7 pct and 3.3 pct) and electricity-natural gas-water (23.7 pct and 26.1 pct, respectively).
Net new funding to self-employed, farmers and personal companies was a negative 150 million euros in October, for an annual growth rate of 0.1 pct, down from 1.3 pct in September.
Net new funding to private persons and private non-profitable institutions was a negative 123 million euros in October, for an annual growth rate of -0.1 pct, down from 0.1 pct in September and 3.1 pct in December 2009. Net funding of mortgage loans was a negative 91 million euros in October for an annual growth rate of 0.7 pct, down from 1.0 pct in September and 3.7 pct in December 2009, while annual growth rate in consumer loans was a negative 113 million euros for an annual growth of -2.3 pct in October, from -2.1 pct in September and 2.0 pct in December 2009.
Net funds to the other loans category was a positive 81 million euros for an annual growth rate of 4.2 pct in October, up from 1.6 pct in September.
 Greek PPI up 5.0 pct in Oct.Greece's Producers' Price Index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) rose 5.0 pct in October this year, compared with the same month last year, after a decline of 3.5 pct recorded in October 2009, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Monday.
The statistical service, in a report, attributed the development to a 4.4-pct increase in the domestic price index and a 7.0-pct rise in the external market index. The producers' price index was up 0.1 pct in October from September 2010.
 Stocks end sharply lowerStocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, as initial enthusiasm caused by a Eurogroup decision on Sunday over a support mechanism for Ireland, paving the way for extending loan repayment period for Greece, gave its place to worries over developments in Europe's debt crisis. The composite index of the market fell 1.76 pct to end at 1,411.39 points, after rising as much as 2.66 pct during the session. Turnover was a low 94.728 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.88 pct, the Mid Cap index dropped 1.40 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.13 pct lower. MIG (1.67 pct), ATEbank (1.52 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (0.83 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (4.31 pct), Cyprus Bank (4.21 pct) and Eurobank (3.77 pct) were major losers.
The Chemicals (1.77 pct) and Financial Services (0.77 pct) sectors scored gains, while Health (4.03 pct) and Media (4.71 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 107 to 57 with another 59 issues unchanged. Dromeas (15.15 pct), Edrasi (12.50 pct) and VIS (9.20 pct) were top gainers, while Olympic Catering (19.77 pct), Compucon (11.11 pct) and Unibios (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.52%
Personal & Household: -0.44%
Raw Materials: -1.15%
Travel & Leisure: -0.57%
Food & Beverages: -1.23%
Financial Services: +0.77%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.37
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.01
HBC Coca Cola: 19.27
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.50
National Bank of Greece: 6.26
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.83
Bank of Piraeus: 3.01
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover on the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 48 million euros on Monday, of wich 14 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 34 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 5.0 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 909 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 11.82 pct and the German Bund 2.73 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.53 pct, the six-month rate 1.265 pct, the three-month 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.80 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.07 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover at 53.864 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,016 contracts worth 44.081 million euros with 36,028 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 18,164 contracts worth 9.783 million euros with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,928), followed by Eurobank (1,379), MIG (1,339), Piraeus Bank (1,148), Alpha Bank (1,258), Cyprus Bank (777) and Hellenic Postbank (390).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.325
Pound sterling 0.850
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.294
Japanese yen 111.62
Swiss franc 1.329
Norwegian kroner 8.193
Canadian dollar 1.353
Australian dollar 1.377
 Palestine Youth Orchestra plays to packed audience at the MegaronPlaying before a packed audience of all ages and descriptions at the Athens Megaron Concert Hall on Sunday night, the young musicians of the Palestine Youth Orchestra - ranging in age from 12 to 26 years old - put on a powerful and accomplished performance that many a professional musician would have been proud of.
Conductor Sian Edwards, leading the PYO for the third time, ran a tight ship as she put her players through their paces in a diverse programme that included elements of both east and west. This ranged from classical music like Haydn to a medley from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" but also three traditional Arab songs performed by vocalists Oday Al-Khattab, Rawan Elleyan and Osama Diab and some haunting orchestral pieces by Arab composers Ahmad Al-Khatib (Mystifying Transpa-rencies), John Bisharat (Elegy in a Country Churchyard) and Issa Boulos (The Street Your House is On & The Street Your House is on, on a Different Day). The last was commissioned specially by the PYO and premiered for its 2010 concerts at the Jordan Festival and on Sunday at the Megaron.
Their polished performance was perhaps even more remarkable when one considers the troubled background against which it has emerged, within cities torn by strife such as Gaza and Ramallah. Oday, for example was born in a refugee camp in Hebron and now studies music in Ramallah, as does Osama Diab. The beautiful Rawan Elleyan with her warm, rich voice was born in Gaza in 1991. Both Diab and Elleyan won the National Music Competition in Palestine in 2010.
The event was brought to the Megaron courtesy of the sponsors, the Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and CCC President Said Khouri.
The evening was kicked off by the Palestinian ambassador in Athens Samir Abou Ghazaleh, who addressed an auditorium in which most leaders of Greek political parties in Parliament were either present or represented, as well as several Greek artists and celebrities. The Palestinian Authority and its president Mahmoud Abbas were represented by Dr. Nabil Shaath.
Party leaders in the audience included Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras and Democratic Left President Fotis Kouvelis.
From the ruling PASOK party came PASOK National Council Secretary Mihalis Karhimakis and former Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, head of the Greek Parliament's Greece-Palestine Friendship Committee, as well as Deputy Labour Minister Anna Dalara, who arrived with her husband, the popular Greek singer George Dalaras.
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party was represented by MP Adonis Georgiadis, accompanied by his wife and TV presenter Evgenia Manolidou, while the new Democratic Alliance party headed by Dora Bakoyannis was represented by MP Kostas Kiltidis.
Other notable appearances included those of popular Greek composer Dionysis Savvopoulos, film director Nikos Koundouros and veteran politician Manolis Glezos, among others.
The Palestine Youth Orchestra is the 'flagship' of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. It was created in 2004 and today consists of 55 young Palestinian musicians who come from the Palestinian territory and former Palestinian areas and from the Palestinian diaspora, living in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt but also Europe and America.
They frequently have guest players and this year there were four Greek musicians that joined the PYO at its annual workshop and six Greeks played with the PYO during Sunday night's concert in Athens.
 ANA-MPA joins anti-smoking campaign with new web pageJoining the nationwide campaign against smoking, ANA-MPA launched a new webpage on Monday aimed at actively contributing to raising public awareness on the hazards of smoking and ways of kicking the habit.
Greece holds top place in the consumption of tobacco products in the EU, while a law prohibiting smoking in closed, public places is in effect since September 1.
ANA-MPA's specialised web page http://web.ana-mpa.gr/nosmoking contains information on the current legislation, facts on the harmful consequences of smoking, ways of kicking the nicotine habit and on specialised centers.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking is the major health problem in the world today.
One person dies every 10 seconds from smoking-related diseases throughout the world, while more than 600,000 people die as a result of passive smoking, according to WHO figures.
 Temperatures at record highs for November, scientist confirmsFor those of us that felt uneasy at the long string of warm days that Greece experienced throughout November, when the weather more closely resembled early summer than late autumn, scientists at the national meteorological service EMY confirmed on Monday that we have been experiencing record-breaking temperatures for the current season.
The head of EMY, meteorologist Anastasia Papakrivou said that temperatures in Athens reached 25C on Monday and surpassed the previous record for the last 10 days of November - 24C on November 30 1961. This also holds for Thessaloniki, where the mercury climbed to 23C early on Monday morning and was set to surpass the previous record of 23.6C recorded on November 22, 1965.
Similarly, temperatures in the first 20 days of the month were higher than the average temperature usually recorded during November in Greece.
According to Papakrivou, a rise in the average temperature was indisputable but it was still too early to attribute the phenomenon to global warming since that would take several years and statistical studies to be positively proved.
While the high temperatures of the past month were rare, the meteorologist said that they could not be categorised as 'extreme' weather conditions since they did not endanger human health or lives. She advised people to guard against a rise in virus infections due to higher humidity and the red dust clouds carried to Greece from Africa by stronger southerly winds.
She also predicted that the unseasonally warm weather and lower-than-usual rainfall will continue at least until Christmas, except for an interval of colder, rainy days this coming weekend.
 Athens Capitol mall inauguration postponed to Dec. 22The inauguration of the Athenian Capitol multi-purpose cultural, commercial and recreational facility and the Greek Vehicle Museum has been postponed to Wednesday, December 22, from the originally scheduled date of December 15 due to a 24-hour general strike called on the latter date by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), it was announced on Monday.
The Hellenic Seminar and Reception of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) will take place as planned on December 15 at the Athenian Capitol's Conference Center.
The shops in the Athenian Capitol mall will open on Thursday, December 16, as originally planned.
The facility will also host Athens' first Vehicle History Museum, which includes more than 270 vehicles in its three-storey building. The oldest exhibit on display is an 1895 fire pump, while other highlights include cars belonging to historical figures of the arts and politics, some of which were acquired through international auctions over the last three decades.
The mall also contains a conference center, a 3D cinema, some 30 shops, and 10 restaurants and cafes, as well as an 8-storey underground garage with a capacity of 800 cars.
The 45 million euro investment by the Haragionis Group is expected to attract more than three million visitors annually.
 Two foreign nationals arrested with arms cache in their carTwo Turkish nationals, a 46-year-old man and his 17-year-old son, were arrested on Monday by police at the Kotyli border station after a small arms cache was found in their car.
A war rifle, dozens of rounds of ammunition, knives and a number of burglary tools were found in the car driven by the Turkish man, who was several convictions against him.
The two men threw a Kalashnikov rifle and several rounds of ammunition out of the private passenger car they were in when they spotted a routine police check ahead of them, at dawn Monday.
The two men were arrested, and a search of the car revealed a large number of burglary tools as well, all of which were confiscated.
A further investigation revealed that the older man was being investigated on illegally residing in Greece, while a court order for his deportation has been pending since 2005.
A preliminary investigation further revealed that the man is wanted for a series of burglaries in Attica, Xanthi, Kavala, Komotini, Alexandroupolis and Edessa.
The man has also been convicted to and served a lengthy jail sentence on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated theft, drug possession, resisting authorities, gun possession, escape from prison, setting up a criminal gang and violation of residency restrictions.
The man had been incarcerated in the Kassandra farm prison in Halkidiki, from where he was released in 1989, in the Korydallos prison since 1990, and in the prison on Corfu island, where he failed to return after a leave and was re-arrested in 2001. He has also served time in the Malandrino prison, from where he was released in 2005.
The father and son are due to appear before a Xanthi public prosecutor.
 The Monday issue of Athens' dailies at a glanceExtension of Greece's EU-IMF loan repayment period and the eurogroup's approval of an 85 billion euro bailout package for Ireland, and a streamlining of the DEKO (public utilities and organisations) dominated the headlines in Athens dailies on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Wave of early retirements in the DEKO".
AVRIANI: "11 years of hunger and misery and afterwards...we'll see".
ELEFTHEROS: "Papandreou begging for consensus".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Memorandum up to 2021".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Gaining time, losing money" with the extension of the loan repayment period.
ESTIA: "There is a way out of the crisis".
ETHNOS: "Window for extension (of the loan repayment period) for Greece".
IMERISSIA: "Extension/breather for the 110 billion euro (EU-IMF) loan".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Agreement for extension of (repayment of) the Greek loan".
TA NEA: "Payment facilitation - 4+7 years instead of (the present) 3+2 years".
VRADYNI: "Fear of mutiny (among PASOK ranks) over the DEKO".
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