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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-02

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

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

Thursday, 2 December 2010 Issue No: 3659

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM stresses need for new 'security community' at OSCE summit
  • [02] PM Papandreou at OSCE summit in Kazakhstan
  • [03] PM's sideline meetings
  • [04] PM meets with Russian President - Medvedev to visit Greece in 2011
  • [05] PM meets Kazakhstan president in Astana
  • [06] PM winds up sideline talks at EU-Africa Summit
  • [07] President meets with GSEE presidium
  • [08] ND on consensus in economy
  • [09] Karatzaferis: 'Too late for consensus gov't'
  • [10] Papoutsis to brief EU counterparts on illegal migration issue
  • [11] Mikis Theodorakis announces 'Movement of Independent Citizens'
  • [12] Leftist leader in Paris for political congress
  • [13] EU enlargement con'f in Athens
  • [14] Amendment extends deadline for declaring illegal building conversions
  • [15] Justice to investigate allegations of nepotism in Athens university dept
  • [16] 25 state hospitals begin all-day operation on Wednesday
  • [17] Unsuccessful hacking attempt against defence ministry
  • [18] PM addresses AHCC congress
  • [19] Public sector reforms mandatory, FinMin
  • [20] No blanket cuts to supplementary pensions, Koutroumanis says
  • [21] Business federation: Eliminate 230 obstacles impeding entrepreneurship
  • [22] Commission: Greece agrees to cease aid, recover subsidies from Hellenic Shipyards
  • [23] Greek banks' deposits down in Oct.
  • [24] Greek enterprises' credibility hit by crisis
  • [25] Greek-listed enterprises report 570-mln-euro losses in Jan-Sept
  • [26] Minister of State attends investors' forum in NYC
  • [27] SEV event on energy saving
  • [28] Deputy minister meets with Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Ass'c head
  • [29] National Bank to donate 30 million to Evangelismos Hospital
  • [30] ASE suspends trading in Cardico, Marak Electronic
  • [31] Seamen suspend strike after civil mobilisation
  • [32] Greek tourism organisation staff begin series of strikes
  • [33] OSE personnel transfer process launched
  • [34] Budget revenues up 19.5 pct in Nov.
  • [35] Greek PMI improved slightly in November
  • [36] Greek stocks end 8.3 pct down in November
  • [37] Stocks surge 3.85% on Wed.
  • [38] Greek bond market closing report
  • [39] ADEX closing report
  • [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [41] World AIDS Day observed in Greece
  • [42] Culture ministry approves overhaul for Teriade Museum on Lesvos
  • [43] Future mayor seeks meetings over rubbish crisis
  • [44] Greece participating in EFFMIS programme for forest fires
  • [45] Events mark 97th anniversary of Crete's union with Greece
  • [46] Police launch manhunt for Pieria bank robbers
  • [47] Polish national a victim of heinous attack
  • [48] ND, PASOK offices targeted by arsonists
  • [49] 2 foreign nationals arrested for stealing rail cables
  • [50] Ministry: Portion of inmate population abstaining from meals Politics

  • [01] PM stresses need for new 'security community' at OSCE summit

    ASTANA (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)

    Greek prime minister George Papandreou stressed the need for a new "security community", addressing the first OSCE Summit in 11 years, that opened Wednesday in Astana, Kazakhstan. The summit, he said, provided an opportunity for renewing the member countries' commitment to the cause of regional security, but was also a challenge "given that we are in a different era, in which organised crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking, terrorism, migration due to climate change, access to drinking water, and violation of human rights, are the forms of security policy in the 21st century that need to be addressed".

    Papandreou said that much still remains to be done in order to have effective joint actions, and for that very reason organisations such as the OSCE have great importance, given the increasing acknowledgement that no country can, on its own, tackle problems of such magnitude. He added that, paradoxically, "we are also seeing a rekindling of nationalism", which he attributed to insecurity among people that leads them to seeking refuges rather than common solutions to the common problems.

    He attributed the "return to nationalism" partially to the imbalances of the global system and to the globalised economy "that is determined by self-centered interests in the markets rather than by solidarity and cooperation".

    Papandreou further referred to the international financial markets, noting an increase in inequality among countries.

    "The economic crisis, in which the profits are private and the losses are 'socialised' could definitely lead to a political and social instability, and inequality, in my view, is one of the causes of the global economic imbalance," Papandreou said, and voiced backing for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's proposal for the incorporation of economic stability in the OSCE agenda.

    The Greek premier further said that the OSCE had served as a tool for the building of security in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but things today are very different "and we need less one-sidedness and more efficient multi-sidedness, lesser polarization and more cooperation, less nationalism and more internationalism, and this is why a new content of a new OSCE security community is so important".

    Noting that the OSCE Summit on Corfu in 2009, during the Greek chairmanship of the organisation, had been inspired by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's initiative for a new security agreement in Europe that aimed at building confidence among all the partners, Papandreou further welcomed the "new spirit of cooperation between NATO and Russia".

    On the discussions and contacts that have been taking place over the last two years, Papandreou expressed hope that these processes in the OSCE will pave the way for a new security community.

    Although 65 years have elapsed since the end of WWII, regional tensions continue to exist in various parts of the continent, undermining security in Europe as a whole, Papandreou continued, stressing that in times of economic difficulty, arms control and confidence building measures are "more important than ever", since a reduction in military spending would allow the transfer of resources to the social income, infrastructures and to the transition to green growth.

    The true test for the OSCE is resolving conflicts which, although not a condition for establishing a security community, should nevertheless be the natural evolution of the entire process, he said.

    Commitment for a security community is a commitment that the threat of the use of violence is no longer an option, Papandreou said, adding that it is becoming clear that military force by itself is incapable of facing the complex problems of today, and new institutions, societies need to be created that will protect the common values and promote security, human rights, freedoms, and prosperity for all.

    "Democracy is more than elections. it concerns the building of good governance, institutions and prosperity," he stressed.

    On climate change, Papandreou outlined the Greek initiatives on Climate Change in the Mediterranean in cooperation with Turkey and 18 more countries, and a corresponding initiative in the Black Sea with 12 countries of the region.

    Another key to regional security is cooperation on the migration problem, Papandreou said, noting that this is a great source of concern for Greece given that 90 percent of illegal migrants to the EU had used the Greek borders as their gateway to the rest of the EU last year.

    He noted the dual task of protecting the human dignity of both legal and illegal migrants and refugees on the one hand and on the other preserving the cohesion of the communities, which are unable to incorporate the immense number of arrivals on the Greek borders, and stressed the Greek proposal for the creation of a migration network so as to deepen and expand the dialogue on the migration problem.

    Papandreou further pointed out that the OSCE was not alone in meeting the challenges, and noted the collaborations in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Norway while, referring to the Balkans, he underlined the importance of cooperation with the NGOs and the Society of the Citizens, and adding that "if we want the OSCE to play a role globally, we need to adopt the 2007 Plan without reservations or footnotes".

    He called for the deepening of the cooperation among the 56 OSCE member countries so that "our societies will become more substantive, more open and more consolidated, at the same time broadening our perception on what democracy means in the new technological era of the mass media and the internet, which allows greater participation on the one hand but on the other hand entails dangers if we allow violation of personal confidentiality".

    [02] PM Papandreou at OSCE summit in Kazakhstan

    ASTANA-Kazakhstan (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)

    A Summit meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) opened at the Palace of Independence in the Kazakh capital Astana on Wednesday morning, with Greece represented by prime minister George Papandreou and foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas.

    Papandreou on Wednesday held a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the 2-day OSCE summit, the first to take place in 11 years, while the opening session was addressed by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly president Petros Efthymiou of Greece.

    The Summit was opened by host country Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who called the gathering a "triumph of common sense" and urged the heads of state and government of the participating 56 OSCE member states to "advance together towards a secure future for our peoples".

    OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakh secretary of state and foreign minister Kanat Saudabayev, urged the member states to "show the wisdom and courage of true leaders and reach consensus on the important issue of strengthening security and cooperation", while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended the high level of cooperation in the OSCE area and the "new era of action and engagement", adding: "Not so long ago, few would have imagined the peoples of this vast area would be bound so closely together. In the process, the challenges have become more apparent. But so, too, have the impressive common achievements and enormous new horizons of change and opportunity."

    "The entire planet, and not only the OSCE, is at a crossroads," OSCE Parliamentary Assembly president Petros Efthymiou stressed at the opening session of the Summit.

    He referred to the identity crisis in the OSCE, which he attributed to a failure of the political dialogue among the member countries to lead the organisation in a common direction, and to a lack of mutual trust which, he warned, undermines the OSCE's ability to tackle a series of problems.

    The Parliamentary Assembly chief said that change in the OSCE needs to begin with "real political initiatives" that will lead to building of confidence among the members and create a "community of security in the entire Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian region". Such a change must also, from here on, focus on results, he added, noting that "targeted action is not among our strong points".

    Efthymiou stressed that a strong and effective Parliamentary Assembly is crucial for the organisation, given that the political dialogue promotes confidence, and underlined the need for better use of the Parliamentary Assembly by the OSCE structures.

    Changes are also necessary in the decision-taking process in the OSCE, he added.

    Efthymiou further underlined the need for the OSCE's existence, stressing that "if the OSCE did not exist, we would have had to invent it", adding that the process of revitalising the organisation has only started, "and the challenge at hand is analogous to the birth of our organisation" some 35 years ago.

    "There is no doubt how much lies at stake here in Astana, and we don't have the luxury of letting if fail," he added.

    [03] PM's sideline meetings

    Greek prime minister George Papandreou had a series of sideline meetings in Astana on Wednesday morning, beginning with British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, with whom he discussed European issues, economic issues and bilateral relations, followed by Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev, with whom he discussed bilateral relations, furthering cooperation between the two countries, energy issues and investments and tourism.

    Papandreou also met with Austrian president Heinz Fischer for a discussion encompassing the situation in and reactions of the markets, and prospects and developments in the FYROM name issue and the Cyprus issue.

    The Greek premier further had meetings with European Council president Herman van Rompuy, Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd, and US secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who told Papandreou that she was closely following the course of the Greek economy, adding that "you are doing very well".

    [04] PM meets with Russian President - Medvedev to visit Greece in 2011

    Prime minister George Papandreou met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday on the sidelines of an OSCE summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

    The two leaders discussed the Greek economy, with Medvedev praising the progress that has been made.

    The two sides also stressed their desire for enhancing cooperation in the fields of the economy, energy and defense issues and in bilateral relations.

    The talks also encompassed NATO-Russia relations, with both sides calling the outcome of the recent NATO summit in Lisbon as "positive".

    It was further announced that Medvedev will pay a state visit to Greece in 2011.

    [05] PM meets Kazakhstan president in Astana

    ASTANA (ANA-MPA - G. Milionis)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev here on Wednesday, after the first day of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit meeting taking place here.

    Papandreou invited Nazarbayev to visit Greece, which the Kazakhstan president promised to do. Discussion between them focused on bilateral relations, economic affairs relating to manufacturing and tourism and issues concerning expatriates.

    [06] PM winds up sideline talks at EU-Africa Summit

    TRIPOLI (ANA-MPA/N. Lionakis)

    Prime minister George Papandreou welcomed the extension of the repayment period for Greece's 110 billion euro EU-IMF support mechanism loan being examined as a "positive decision", speaking to reporters on Tuesday on the second day of an EU-Africa Summit in Tripoli, Libya.

    Papandreou said that he discussed developments in the eurozone with other European leaders on the sidelines of the two-day summit that wound up on Tuesday, adding that the markets continued to be fidgety, but stressing that "Europe has the abilities to intervene".

    Earlier, Papandreou had a sidelines meeting with FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski, who was attending the summit in observer capacity.

    [07] President meets with GSEE presidium

    "Those 'who have' should also pay," President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said Tuesday during a meeting with the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) presidium.

    "I think it is only fair that those 'who have' be obliged to open up their wallets," Papoulias said during a meeting with GSEE president Yiannis Panagopoulos and the new members of the umbrella federation's presidium.

    Papoulias said spoke of the 'unbearable pain' of those hardest hit by the economic crisis, adding that further pressure could not be put on salary and pension earners.

    On the trade union movement, Papoulias said that the unions "and all of us" are waging the battle, noting that this difficult period can be overcome only through battles in the context of democracy and social cohesion.

    [08] ND on consensus in economy

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party is willing to be supportive but it will not back any ill-advised choices made by the government, the ND leadership adviser Dimitris Stamatis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to a private radio station in Athens on the issue of consensus in the economy, he stated that "the course followed by the government does not lead out of the crisis", underlining that "consensus can be reached when the course followed benefits the country."

    [09] Karatzaferis: 'Too late for consensus gov't'

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Wednesday opined that it is now "too late" now for a consenus government to be created, adding that valuable time and energy has been lost.

    [10] Papoutsis to brief EU counterparts on illegal migration issue

    Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis will brief the European Union's council of justice and internal affairs ministers on results from the implementation of Athens actions to curb illegal immigration into the country and reforms of the asylum procedure

    The council will convene in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, with the primary issues on the agenda being efforts to combat organised crime, terrorism, cyberspace crime, as well as better protection of the EU's borders and the handling of crises.

    Papoutsis departed for Brussels on Wednesday.

    [11] Mikis Theodorakis announces 'Movement of Independent Citizens'

    Internationally-renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis on Wednesday announced the foundation of a Movement of Independent Citizens titled "Spitha" (Flame).

    Theodorakis called on the Greek people to "disobedience" to the government's decisions which, he said, emanate from the US, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union, and "concede our national sovereign rights to foreign powers".

    He also outlined the Movement's positions, adding that the Movement does not aim at becoming a political party.

    [12] Leftist leader in Paris for political congress

    Opposition Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) President Alexis Tsipras departed on Wednesday for Paris, heading a party delegation to attend a European Left congress on Dec. 3-5.

    A total of 37 political parties (26 full members, 11 observers) will attend the congress, as well as, many guest political parties from Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

    [13] EU enlargement con'f in Athens

    EU enlargement benefits for all EU citizens, the strengthening of stability and peace in SE Europe and the diplomatic solution of likely bilateral differences are the focus of discussions of a one-day conference hosted in Athens by the European Commission Representation and the European Parliament Office in Greece.

    Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou opened the conference on Wednesday.

    The ambassador of Belgium, representing the EU Presidency, and the ambassadors of Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), as representatives of respective EU accession candidate countries, addressed the event.

    [14] Amendment extends deadline for declaring illegal building conversions

    An amendment tabled as a rider to a draft bill on road safety that was voted on by Parliament on Wednesday has extended until December 28, 2010 the deadline for submitting by post the supporting documentation for the declaration of semi-outdoor spaces illegally converted into indoor living space.

    The measure also increased the installments and time for repaying the special one-off fine imposed, increasing this to 10 installments over 30 months instead of six installments over 18 months for residential buildings. For buildings used in other ways, the fine can now be paid in eight installments spread out over 32 months.

    Presenting the amendment, Alternate Environment Minister Nikos Sifounakis stressed that no back taxes would be charged for the buildings involved.

    The minister said that for property tax purposes and for declaring the specifications of buildings, authorities will take into account the description of buildings before the declaration of the illegal conversions, which would also not be taken into account when calculating municipal rates.

    Sifounakis stressed that this cleared up uncertainties over the previous months about the possible tax repercussions of the measure.

    He reported a sharp rise in the number of applications with each passing week, exceeding 15-20 percent. Town planning departments had received 75,000 applications by the end of September and these had increased to 238,000 by the end of November.

    [15] Justice to investigate allegations of nepotism in Athens university dept

    The head of the Athens First-Instance Prosecutors Eleni Raikou on Wednesday assigned a public prosecutor to investigate allegations of rampant nepotism in Greek university depart-ments, as reported by Deputy Education Minister Yiannis Panaretos.

    Panaretos had earlier written a letter to the public prosecutors' office concerning the department of Social Theology at Athens University, after a formal internal inquiry showed that several members of its staff were relatives by blood or marriage and a number of irregularities in the way the department was run. In his letter to judicial officials, Panaretos apparently referred to "illegalities of an unprecedented extent".

    These prompted Panaretos to send a letter to Athens University asking that the entire department be scrapped through a merger with the existing theology department.

    Since last September the ministry has asked universities throughout the country to supply information on appointments considered suspect and several such academic appointments or promotions within universities have been cancelled or suspended.

    The public prosecutor's investigation is to focus on offences such as breach of duty and providing false accreditation and locating those responsible.

    The minister's move has been strongly criticised by the Athens University's senate, however, which opposed abolition of the department and accused him of "heavy-handed interference" in university affairs and self-administration. According to the senate, the minister's letter contained "unacceptable generalisations" that sought to influence public opinion and create the impression that the entire social theology department and the university were corrupt, untransparent and socially indifferent.

    The proposal to abolish the specific department has also been opposed by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, in a letter sent to Panaretos and Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou.

    The Archbishop stressed the need to examine the issue carefully so as not to harm the departments undergraduate and post-graduate students.

    [16] 25 state hospitals begin all-day operation on Wednesday

    Twenty-five state hospitals in Greece will begin all-day operation on Wednesday, with out-patient clinics available both during the morning and in the evenings, between 15:00 and 22:00.

    Though the programme is initially restricted to clinics, the hospitals are scheduled to gradually start offering diagnostic and laboratory tests during the evenings as well and, later on, surgery.

    The evening clinics and other medical services will come at a much higher cost, however, with patients charged from 20 euro for an examination by a junior associate specialist in hospitals serving remote areas to 90 euro for a medical professor in a university hospital. Patients will also be charged extra for diagnostic and other treatment procedures carried out by the doctor, such as ultrasounds, X-rays and chemotherapy, amniocentesis, etc. A day-time visit to an out-patient clinic currently costs a flat fee of 3.00 euro.

    The revenue from the higher fees will be used to fund the cost of operating hospitals throughout the day, which is expected to increase the level of service and convenience to the public.

    Hospitals that are part of the programme include the two main children's hospitals, the Aglaia Kyriakou and Agia Sophia, the university hospitals of Rio, Ioannina and Iraklio, the Attica state hospitals Evangelismos, Georgios Gennimatas, KAT, Agios Savvas, Erythros, Nikaia, Tzanio, Attikon, Metaxa and Thriasio, the Thessaloniki hospitals Papanikolaou, Papage-orgiou and AHEPA, as well as the hospitals of Alexandrou-polis, Theagenio, Kavala, Larisa, Volos, Iraklio and Hania.

    [17] Unsuccessful hacking attempt against defence ministry

    An unknown hacker or hackers reportedly attempted to place a virus in the defence ministry's upgraded computer network on Tuesday, with the intrusion blocked by security systems.

    Authorities have begun an investigation to track down the intruder.

    Financial News

    [18] PM addresses AHCC congress

    The government plans to introduce a wide range of changes to the state in 2011, prime minister George Papandreou told the 21st congress of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC) on the theme "The Hour of the Greek Economy" held in Athens on Tuesday.

    Papandreou said that fiscal adjustment was made in 2010 through spending cutbacks and VAT revenue increases, noting, however, that those were not structural changes but "extraordinary measures which, with the improvement of the economy, can be made up for in a fair way and with priority on the weaker strata".

    Next year, he continued, will be the year of reform of the institutional framework on competition, aiming at increasing the competitiveness of the economy while at the same time containing prices and protecting the consumer.

    The premier announced that, in the next few weeks, the government will unveil its National Strategic Plan for Promoting Extroversion, with the aim of creating new financing tools for the internationalisation of Greek enterprises.

    He also said that the new investments law will change the rules of the game and how decisions are taken on what kind of investments need to be made in Greece. Further, the government will proceed with deregulation of the energy market and with a series of interventions on green development in the coming year.

    Warning that it will not be easy to advance many of those changes due to established and guild-like interests that have kept the country stationary for many years, ensuring privileges for themselves at the expense of the social whole, the premier assured that his government will exhaust all margins for deliberation, "but the changes the country needs in order to breath will be made".

    [19] Public sector reforms mandatory, FinMin

    Structural changes in public sector enterprises and the wider public sector are mandatory and must be completed by the end of March, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told a group of 30 PASOK ruling party deputies during a meeting on Wednesday, sources said.

    The same sources said the minister expressed optimism that Cabinet ministers will promote this goal, while he added that five new draft bills are expected to be tabled to Parliament by the end of the year, including a new tax bill and another on opening up so-called "closed professions".

    Moreover, Papaconstantinou told the group of MPs that the economy needs liquidity and this means that markets should remain open, something that necessitates confidence and credibility, which is established by achieving goals, as he said.

    Finally, he said it was necessary to cut overspending in the public sector in order to reach a goal of slashing the fiscal deficit to reach 3.0 pct of GDP by 2014.

    [20] No blanket cuts to supplementary pensions, Koutroumanis says

    The labour ministry has no plans for blanket 'horizontal' cuts in supplementary pensions, Alternate Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis said while briefing the appropriate Parliamentary committee on Wednesday. The minister confirmed that supplementary pensions will be reviewed, however, and that those that were unsustainable over the course of the next five years would be reduced.

    Noting that some pension funds paid out high supplementary pensions, Koutroumanis said that this would not be a problem if the funds were able to cover the sums involved. In cases where it was apparent that the funds would run into trouble in the next five years, however, the size of pensions would be adjusted downward within 2012.

    "Adjustments will not be needed everywhere, but where they are needed they will be made," he stressed.

    [21] Business federation: Eliminate 230 obstacles impeding entrepreneurship

    The Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) on Wednesday unveiled a detailed report listing, one by one, of what it cited as 230 bureaucratic obstacles and added costs blocking entrepreneurship in the debt- and deficit-plagued country.

    The report was presented to Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis by SEV President Dimitris Daskalopoulos.

    Amongst the high-profile proposals are work on Saturday with supplementary time off, along with a proposal for overtime work offset by an overall reduction of working time.

    As regards labour relations, SEV suggests the reduction by half (from 8 to 4 pct) of the percentage of mandatory hirings concerning special categories of employees (the handicapped, heads of large families etc), revision of the so-called "hazardous and heavy" professions list and a reduction of social insurance contributions.

    SEV also reiterates its standing criticism of excessive bureaucracy, citing scores of state interventions in the economy. It suggests, among others, abolition of fees and tax stamps, including the mandatory registration of businesses to relevant chambers, and the publication of business balance sheets in newspapers. Moreover, it calls for the abolition of the advertisement tax in favor of media pension funds (aggeliosimo) and the ERT levy (public radio and television) collected through a surcharge on power bills. In addition, all surcharges in favor of third parties included in prescription medicine prices, tuition fees, shipping fares, fuel prices, theatre tickets, olive oil prices and candles (in support of the clerics' fund) - to name a few - should be abolished, SEV states.

    The employers' and industrialists' federation also recommends the abolition of minimum fees for lawyers, notaries and civil engineers and reassessment of mass transport and taxi fares.

    Other proposals include the liberalisation of prices in a number of sectors, such as farm products, medicines and energy. Moreover, SEV requests deregulation of transports, bread production (bake off) and the operation of pharmacies, along with a reduction of mobile phone fees and imposition of VAT on the Hellenic Post (EL.TA).

    SEV regards as the sources of the obstacles to entrepreneurship the overlapping authorities of government ministries and agencies, the lack of cooperation between responsible ministries, the intervention of chambers and professional associations - mainly for fee collection purposes - market operation ignorance, absence of spatial planning, over-legislation and state intervention mentality.

    [22] Commission: Greece agrees to cease aid, recover subsidies from Hellenic Shipyards

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    The European Commission on Wednesday announced that it has formally accepted commitments proposed by Athens to comply with a 2008 Commission decision, while requesting that Greece cease offering various guarantees and, more importantly, recover illegal subsidies granted in favour of civilian activities at the Hellenic Shipyards (HSY).

    According to a Commission press release here, HSY produces mostly naval vessels, noting that the Greek government was concerned that the recovery might endanger those activities, considering them essential for its national interest. The Commission said Greece proposed to stop various guarantees granted to HSY and that HSY will repay part of the aid through the sale of its non-naval assets.

    It also proposed to compensate the absence of full recovery through a 15-year ban on the civilian activities of HSY. This, according to the Commission, will address the repeated distortions of competition in the past in a sector still affected by overcapacity while having no direct consequence on jobs.

    [23] Greek banks' deposits down in Oct.

    Deposits at Greek banks continued falling in October, totaling 211.5 billion euros, down from 212.8 billion euros a month earlier, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a monthly report, said Greek banks have lost around 11.3 pct of its saving deposits since the beginning of the year, from 238 billion euros at the end of December 2009 to 211.5 billion euros in October, losing around 26.5 billion euros in the 10-month period.

    Greek enterprises withdrew more money from banks, while households' deposits eased to 176.4 billion euros in October from 176.5 billion euros in September.

    [24] Greek enterprises' credibility hit by crisis

    Greek enterprises became more unreliable because of the economic crisis hitting the country, with the rate of unreliable enterprises (bankruptcies and delays in payments) rose to 43.82 pct in the period July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010, compared with the average rate in the period 2003-2009, a survey by ICAP Group said on Wednesday.

    The survey, conducted on a sample of 213,892 societe anonymes and limited companies, showed that the manufacturing, commerce and services sectors were hit most by the crisis, with the number of unreliable enterprises in these sector rising by 36.7 pct, 55.19 pct and 34.51 pct, respectively.

    The survey also showed that 26 pct of enterprises in the sample, saw their credibility worsening in that period, while only 13 pct of enterprises managed to improve their credibility. Commercial enterprises presented the most significant worse-ning of their credit ratings, followed by manufacturing and services enterprises.

    [25] Greek-listed enterprises report 570-mln-euro losses in Jan-Sept

    Greek-listed enterprises reported losses totaling 570 million euros in the January-September period this year, Pegasus Securities said on Wednesday. In an analysis of nine-month results, Pegasus said companies' results showed some improvement in the third quarter of 2010 although it stressed that this development should lead to any enthusiasm or great expectations for the year.

    In a report, Pegasus Securities said a decline in losses to 570 million euros in the nine-month period, from losses totaling 1.37 billion euros in the first half of the year, was a small success since banks have contributed losses as a sector so far this year. The final figure of losses reflected mainly higher losses reported by MIG (1.38 billion euros), Atlantic (107 million euros), banks' losses (553 million euros) and losses suffered by several sectors such as transport, publications, holdings and constructions.

    The balance between loss-making and profitable enterprises was in favour of loss-making companies with a ratio of 55:45.

    After tax and minorities earnings of 261 listed enterprises fell 111.3 pct in the nine-month period, while turnover rose 3.9 pct to 58.438 billion euros and operating earnings fell 14.8 pct in the period.

    The number of loss-making enterprises that turned into profitable were unchanged, while the number of companies moving the other way around recorded a small improvement.

    Mytilineos, Metka, Frigoglass, S&B, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling, Titan, Piraeus Port, Bank of Cyprus, Elval and Karelias managed to raise their profits in the January-September period, while small-size enterprises such as Mathios, Mermeren, Karatzis, Inform Lycos, Karamolegos, Eurodrip, Loulis, Kathimerini, Iktinos, Infoquest, Kyriakidis, Thrace Plastics, MLS Informatics, Voyatzoglou and Kepenos Mills, also raised their profits.

    On the other hand, listed enterprises such as Emporiki Bank, Geniki Bank, ATEbank, MIG, Nutriart, Intracom, Petzetakis, Atlantic, Edrasi, Desmos and the whole sectors of transport and media recorded higher losses.

    Banks managed to report improved results in the third quarter of the year, with the rate of provisions slowing to 35 pct from 37 pct in the first half, totaling 5.17 billion euros. Interest income slowed to 7.78 pct, while commission income was a negative 5.95 pct. Operating costs in the sector grew slower at 0.23 pct.

    [26] Minister of State attends investors' forum in NYC

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Minister of State Haris Pamboukis, responsible for investments, will address the 12th Annual Capital Link Forum, entitled "Reforming Greece, Opportunities and Challenges", set to take place in Manhattan's Metropolitan Club.

    Pamboukis and President and Deputy CEO of the NYSE Euronext Dominique Cerutti will be the keynote speakers in the Capital Link luncheon to be attended by senior executives.

    The forum will be divided into four sections, namely, the Greek government's economic policy, capital markets, companies trading in the Athens Stock Exchange and the global shipping market.

    On Tuesday, Pamboukis met with Archbishop Demetrios of America.

    [27] SEV event on energy saving

    The Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) council for sustainable development will host a symposium on "Energy Efficient Buildings: Challenge and Opportunity for Sustainable Development".

    The symposium will take place at Eugenides Foundation in Athens on Dec. 8, focusing on energy efficient buildings and the implementation of solutions boosting development that can benefit economy and society in a period of crisis.

    [28] Deputy minister meets with Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Ass'c head

    Deputy Marine Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Elpida Tsouri met on Wednesday with the president of the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association Antonis Stelliatos.

    The deputy minister was briefed on the sector's issues and it was decided that a new meeting should take place in the near future at which the possibility for the creation of a committee will be examined, in which marine tourism agencies and ministry officials willl participate.

    [29] National Bank to donate 30 million to Evangelismos Hospital

    The National Bank of Greece on Wednesday signed an agreement for the donation of 30 million euro to Evangelismos Hospital for the construction of a new surgical wing and ICU. Work on the new wing will begin in the autumn of 2011 and is expected to be completed within 30 months.

    NBG CEO Apostolos Tamvakakis stressed during an event for the signature of the agreement that the business community had to actively contribute to addressing social problems and take initiatives to enhance cohesion and improve society as a whole.

    Health Minister Andreas pointed out the need to lift bureaucratic obstacles to private grants and sponsorships for the public sector, noting that three years had elapsed since NBG had first announced its intended donation to Evangelismos and the signature of the agreement on Wednesday.

    Also present were Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, who said the donation was an act of social responsibility, and Alternate Environment Minister Nikos Sifounakis.

    The new wing will replace the existing operating theatres at Evangelismos that are now 37 years old and also increase the number of theatres from 13 at present to 22, thus helping reduce waiting lists for surgeries.

    [30] ASE suspends trading in Cardico, Marak Electronic

    The Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday announced that it was temporarily suspending trading in the shares of Cardico ABEE and Marak Electronic, for a maximum period of 10 days. The decision was taken because the two companies presented balance sheets not fully compatible with market regulations.

    [31] Seamen suspend strike after civil mobilisation

    Vessel traffic in the port of Piraeus and all ports throughout Greece were returning to normal on Wednesday after the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) at dawn Tuesday suspended 8-day rolling strikes.

    The suspension of the strike followed a maritime affairs ministry announcement on Monday afternoon of a civil mobilisation of merchant seamen serving in the domestic coastal shipping sector, which came on the heels of an earlier PNO decision to call a third consecutive 48-hour strike for Tuesday and Wednesday.

    PNO secretary general Yiannis Halas said the federation, following the third civil mobilisation of seamen in the last 8 years, decided to suspend the strike and reorganise the sector's struggle "and resume when we see fit".

    A PNO press release said that the federation's 8-day strike was conducted "in adverse conditions on the part of the coastal shipping capital and the government, which undermined with every means the just and fundamental rights of the Greek seamen".

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME labor organisation staged a demonstration in the port of Piraeus on Tuesday afternoon in protest of the civil mobilisation of the seamen.

    It added that the PASOK government, for the second time in its history of governance of the country and incapable of finding solutions to the long-standing and self-evident demands of the seamen, resorted to its favored 'recipe' of a deplorable, deeply anti-democratic and anti-labor measure of civil mobilisation.

    The release further said that PNO and the Greek seamen in their entirety condemn the civil mobilisation and state their determination to put up a strong fight against such practices, which have been deplored by the Greek people.

    [32] Greek tourism organisation staff begin series of strikes

    Staff at Greece's national tourism organisation EOT on Wednesday begun a series of daily three-hour work stoppages between the hours of 10:00-13:00 until Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos agrees to meet them and brief them on EOT's future prospects.

    [33] OSE personnel transfer process launched

    Public sector agencies, independent authorities, municipalities, prefectures and private law legal entities have until Dec. 3 to present lists of job openings to be covered by personnel transferred from loss-making Hellenic Railways (OSE), rail operator Trainose S.A. and the building contractor affiliate ERGOSE S.A., according to a circular signed by the relevant deputy interior minister on Wednesday.

    Roughly 2,000 OSE employees will be transferred to other agencies, organisations and departments of the wider public sector pursuant to Law No. 38/91/2010.

    [34] Budget revenues up 19.5 pct in Nov.

    Greek budget revenues grew 19.5 pct in November, totaling 5.0 billion euros, compared with the same month last year, including around 700 million euros in advanced payments of a government plan to offer tax amnesty to outstanding tax cases, finance ministry sources said on Wednesday.

    The same sources said VAT revenues also grew by 10.4 pct in November, with tax revenues totaling 45.5 billion euros in the January-November period, up 5.0 pct compared with the same period last year.

    [35] Greek PMI improved slightly in November

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) grew slightly in November to 43.9 points from 43.6 points in October, highlighting a worsening of operating conditions in the Greek manufacturing sector.

    Incoming new orders fell abruptly in November, reflecting low demand and strong competition in the domestic market. New orders from abroad remained largely unchanged in the month. Greek manufacturers further cut back in production, employment and purchasing activity as a result of lower new orders. Cost-cutting efforts led to a reduction in supply inventories and ready products' inventories. Greek manufacturers also suffered from an accelerating rate of import price increases in November, the highest since May, reflecting higher raw material prices.

    The PMI index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.

    [36] Greek stocks end 8.3 pct down in November

    Greek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange in November, with the composite index of the market falling 8.3 pct to end at 1,419.67 points. The FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 10.2 pct, the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 16.20 pct and the FTSE/ASE 80 index ended 13.7 pct lower in the month.

    Hellenic Telecoms (21.6 pct) and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (5.6 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher in November, while Hellenic Postbank (28.2 pct), ATEbank (25.3 pct), MIG (24.7 pct), National Bank (17.5 pct), Viohalco (17.4 pct) and Cyprus Bank (14 pct) recorded the heaviest percentage losses.

    In the medium capitalization index, Frigoglass (3.8 pct) and Metka (0.9 pct) were the only ones to record gains, while Geniki Bank (48.6 pct), Lambrakis Press (40 pct), Alapis (38.1 pct) and Forthnet (33.3 pct) suffered the heaviest losses.

    In the small capitalization index, Neorio (7.2 pct), Dromeas (2.9 pct) and Euroconsultants (2.4 pct) recorded gains, while Sprider (45.5 pct), Alter (40 pct), Parnassos (36.3 pct) and Aspis Bank (36.1 pct) the heaviest losses.

    The Telecoms and Food sectors were the only ones to end higher, while Insurance (14 pct), Commerce (17.2 pct), Banks (17 pct), Financial Services (19.6 pct), Technology (23.2 pct) and Media (32.9 pct) suffered losses.

    Paperpack (60 pct), Interinvest (38.2 pct), Elbisco (37.8 pct), Euroline (26.1 pct) and Nafpaktos Spinn Mills (25 pct) were top gainers in the month, while Geniki Bank (48.6 pct), Sprider (45.5 pct), Vioter (45.2 pct) and Nutriart (44.4 pct) were top losers.

    [37] Stocks surge 3.85% on Wed.

    Stocks surged on Wednesday, supported by an improved climate in European regional bond markets and an advance of prices in European bourses. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange soared 3.85 pct to end at 1,474.35 points, reflecting strong gains in bank shares. National Bank jumped 8.78 pct, Piraeus Bank was up 9.09 pct, Eurobank soared 11.46 pct, Alpha Bank was up 9.6 pct, MIG rose 8.20 pct and Hellenic Postbank rose 8.30 pct. OTE (-1.14 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end lower. Turnover was an improved 119.591 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 4.81 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 3.38 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 5.88 pct up. Bank (7.71 pct), Technology (6.87 pct) and Financial Services (6.34 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains, while Telecoms and Insurance fell 1.14 pct each.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 152 to 36 with another 46 issues unchanged. Vardas (66.67 pct), Geniki Bank (25.48 pct) and Euroline (19.82 pct) were top gainers, while Sfakianakis (10.26 pct), Elbisco (9.80 pct) and HOL (9.80 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.14%

    Industrials: +1.28%

    Commercial: +3.50%

    Construction: +2.96%

    Media: +3.04%

    Oil & Gas: +2.03%

    Personal & Household: +2.00%

    Raw Materials: +4.08%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.92%

    Technology: +6.87%

    Telecoms: -1.14%

    Banks: +7.71%

    Food & Beverages: +1.29%

    Health: +4.90%

    Utilities: +2.05%

    Chemicals: +5.47%

    Financial Services: +6.34%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.68

    ATEbank: 0.67

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.90

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.88

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.68

    National Bank of Greece: 7.06

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.28

    OPAP: 12.75

    OTE: 6.91

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.00

    Titan: 14.66

    [38] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 904 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.80 pct and the German Bund 2.76 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 9.0 million euros, of which 7.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 5.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.52 pct, the six-month rate 1.25 pct, the three-month 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.

    [39] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.72 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover at 49.060 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,042 contracts worth 37.593 million euros, with 34,663 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,137 contracts worth 11.467 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,994), followed by Eurobank (1,894), MIG (946), OTE (784), Piraeus Bank (5,643), Alpha Bank (1,625), Mytilineos (475), Cyprus Bank (1,018) and Marfin Popular Bank (448).

    [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.322

    Pound sterling 0.846

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 9.227

    Japanese yen 111.25

    Swiss franc 1.328

    Norwegian kroner 8.124

    Canadian dollar 1.346

    Australian dollar 1.372

    General News

    [41] World AIDS Day observed in Greece

    World AIDS Day, observed on December 1 each year, was marked throughout Greece with public awareness campaigns on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Informational material and condoms were given out by NGO volunteers and actors at several spots throughout Athens, who also shared out "FreeHugs" to passers-by in a move aimed to eliminate social racism against HIV carriers and to stress the fact that HIV is not communicated through social contact.

    According to statistics released by the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO), AIDS incidents have been on the rise in Greece in recent years, with 519 new cases reported this year up until October 31, bringing the overall number of HIV positive cases to 10,452 of which 80.9 percent (8,453) were men and 18.7 percent (1,951) were women, while no gender was reported in a small percentage of the cases.

    The number of children infected with AIDS remains small, however, with just 37 cases overall, of which 64.9 percent were infected by the mother.

    AIDS-related deaths this year, up to October 31, totaled 34.

    [42] Culture ministry approves overhaul for Teriade Museum on Lesvos

    The culture ministry's Museums Council on Wednesday approved the start of a study for the renovation of the Teriade Museum and Library building on the island of Lesvos.

    The historic museum in the north of the island was the brainchild of publisher Stratis Eleftheriadis - also known as Teriade - and contains his collection of 'Great Books' or 'Grands Livres' amassed with the assistance of some of the leading artists of his day.

    These contain original designs by the likes of Matisse, Chagall, LeCorbusier, Picasso and many of the other great painters of the 20th century, while each book is in itself a work of art supervised by the artists involved.

    The publication of the 'Grands Livres' continued until 1975 while the museum also contains works of art collected by Teriade in his lifetime and parts of his personal archives. So far, the collection has not been fully inventoried, something that is among the culture ministry's plans. Apart from the parts of the collection on display in the 18 small roooms of the museum, the remainder is currently stored in the basement of the museum.

    Among the major problems faced by the historic and rare collection is that of preservation, since the building is not adequately equipped to deal with high temperatures in summer and the destructive effect of solar radiation that causes irreparable damage to exhibits..

    [43] Future mayor seeks meetings over rubbish crisis

    The newly-elected Athens mayor George Kaminis, who takes over the mayor's office on January 1, 2011, on Wednesday said that he would like a meeting with Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis and Attica regional authority head Yiannis Sgouros in order to discuss the serious problem that has arisen with the mounds of rubbish on the streets of Athens.

    The build-up in accumulated refuse initially occurred during a strike by municipal garbage collectors but was then compounded by the dismissal of some 100 contract workers previously employed at the Fylis landfill site, who lost their case in court. Even though the garbage collectors' strike has ended and they are trying to clear the streets, the landfill does not have enough staff to operate after hours and does not therefore have time to process or accept the increased quantity of rubbish that is continuing to pile up on the streets.

    Kaminis warned that Athens would be celebrating the Christmas holidays in the company of 200,000 tonnes of rubbish heaped up in the streets and that the situation was likely to continue in January, at which time court rulings on the dismissal of a further 700 contract workers employed by the Athens municipality sanitation department are due to come out.

    As part of a drive to cut state expenditure, the government is failing to renew the contracts of all state-sector staff employed on a temporary basis.

    [44] Greece participating in EFFMIS programme for forest fires

    Greece has entered a partnership of 10 European countries that are part of the European Forest Fire Monitoring using Informa-tion Systems (EFFMIS) programme, on the exchange of best practices for the monitoring and prevention of forest fires. The inaugural EFFMIS meetings were held on Monday and Tuesday at the environment ministry offices.

    The programme also examines how each area can align its national policies with EU regulations on the issues of protecting natural resources from forest fires.

    The Greek environment ministry is participating as a partner in a consortium that includes 11 agencies from Greece, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Slovenia. This includes specialised bodies with valuable technical know-how, such as the Wood and Forest Services Centre of Castilla & Leon of Spain, the San Marco Project Research Centre of the University of Rome, the Executive Forest Agency of Bulgaria and others.

    [45] Events mark 97th anniversary of Crete's union with Greece

    The Cretan port city of Hania on Wednesday celebrated the 97th anniversary of the large island's union with Greece on Dec. 1, 1913.

    The government was represented by Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos and Deputy Rural Development Minister Milena Apostolaki.

    On Dec. 1, 1913 King Constantine and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos attended the hoisting of the Greek flag at the port city's fortress, marking the union of Crete with Greece.

    [46] Police launch manhunt for Pieria bank robbers

    Police have launched a search to find and arrest the four armed men that robbed a branch of ATEBank in Eginio, Pieria on Wednesday morning, grabbing 390,000 euro.

    The four robbers, their faces concealed by the motorcycle helmets they were wearing, arrived at the bank branch shortly before 8:00 a.m. when it was not yet open to customers and broke the plate-glass windows using a sledge-hammer. Threatening staff with an automatic weapon, believed to be a Kalashnikov rifle, they went toward the safe that had just been opened and grabbed the 390,000 euro they found inside.

    The four then climbed into a getaway vehicle parked nearby and headed toward the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, where they abandoned the first car and switched to a second car driven by an accomplice. The first getaway car turned out to have been stolen from the Thessaloniki area.

    This was the second armed robbery targeting the specific bank branch in the last 1.5 months. The last robbery was on October 12 when four culprits divided into two pairs simultaneously robbed neighbouring branches of ATEBank and National Bank of Greece using the same method.

    At that time, they had taken 25,000 euro from the ATEBank branch and 230,000 euro from NBG, where they found the safe opened.

    Authorities are seriously entertaining the theory that the culprits in Wednesday's robbery are the same group that hit the bank in October.

    [47] Polish national a victim of heinous attack

    Authorities on Wednesday said they suspected revenge or a settling of accounts was the motive for the horrific injuries inflicted on a Polish national found on a beach in Lavrio last Sunday night. The victim was covered in serious burns and his genitals had been cut off by his attackers. The man has been taken to KAT hospital, where doctors say he is in critical condition.

    Attica police said they were now investigating the victim's circle of acquaintance in order to gather information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

    [48] ND, PASOK offices targeted by arsonists

    Ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) local organisation offices in Triandria, Thessaloniki, were targeted by arsonists early Tuesday in simultaneous attacks.

    The two home-made incendiary devices, comprising small propane canisters, exploded early Tuesday, and the ensuing fires caused damage to the buildings' windows before being put out by the Fire Brigade.

    [49] 2 foreign nationals arrested for stealing rail cables

    Police arrested two Pakistani men at the 27th milestone of the Aharnes-Tithorea rail network on Monday evening after spotting them attempting to cut a copper cable of the Hellenic Rail (OSE) network.

    An ensuing search of an unused railway tunnel at the nearby Aghios Stefanos revealed copper cables 150 metres long.

    According to the police, suspects together with accomplices would cut and sell the cables to metal recycling units.

    An investigation by OSE in the region of Afidnes and Dekelia, due north of Athens, revealed damages to the network four kilometres long, while losses were estimated at 280,000 euros.

    The arrested suspects were brought before a public prosecutor.

    [50] Ministry: Portion of inmate population abstaining from meals

    According to an announcement by the Justice ministry on Wednesday, following the collection of data from the country's total of 33 correctional facilities and jail lock-ups, it appeared that a portion of inmates and prisoners in 15 units are abstaining from meals.

    The development comes after reports surfaced that an inmates were set to hold coordinated mobilisations in jails across the country, ostensibly in demand for better living conditions and even milder prison sentencing terms.

    The issue, in fact, generated a justice ministry announcement over the weekend and stepped up security in prisons.

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