|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 10 December 2010 Issue No: 3666
 PM meets Rehn; return to growth in 2012 predictedGreece will turn the corner in 2011 and return to growth from the second half of 2012, European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn said in Athens on Thursday, after meeting Prime Minister George Papandreou.
During joint statements after the meeting, Rehn expressed his support for the Greek government's decisions and said that Greece was on the right track in terms of dealing with the deficit but also on issues concerning pension and labour rules.
"Europe stands by you and the Greek people," he added, addressing the prime minister.
The prime minister referred to the important steps already taken by Greece until now and stressed that the target in 2011 was to create the conditions for a return to growth in 2012, not just to reduce the deficit.
A great distance had been travelled over the past year, Papandreou said and this was reflected by the much lower tension and stress during the Commissioner's visit.
"We have waged and are still waging the battle to restore our country's credibility, we convinced [our partners] and a support mechanism was created with Europe reacting positively, while from the start we had stressed that the problem was not just Greek but involved all of Europe and the Eurozone," Papandreou said.
He emphasised the "titanic" effort being made by the Greek people that had resulted in a large reduction of the deficit, greater than all the predictions, and the start of structural reforms.
"Greece has shown courage and determination but we still have a long road ahead," the prime minister added, repeating that Greece would use the breathing space given by the EU support mechanism in order to carry out the changes needed in its state sector and to establish the rule of law and justice.
This effort and the fact that the country was now on the right track was recognised by Europe, which was now considering an extension of the repayment period for the Greek loans, he added.
The prime minister stressed that Greece was actively participa-ting in discussions on the eurozone and the creation of a perma-nent stabilisation mechanism, as well as developmental policy. Pointing out that the same issues had been discussed in his meetings with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and would occupy the summit meeting next week, Papandreou said he had been satisfied with the positions and stance adopted by the European Commission.
"The Greek government and the Commission have almost identi-cal views on these matters, including the proposals for the issue of eurobonds and other equivalent proposals that enhance the position of the euro and the European economy but also those that tend to bring Europe out of the economic recession," he said.
Papandreou again repeated his proposals for greater supervision of markets and the financial system, which he said "lay at the heart of the problem".
The Commissioner, on his part, praised the work done by the Greek government, the results it had achieved and the determina-tion shown by the Greek people, adding that the crisis needed a deeper response from Europe as a whole:
"The current crisis is increasingly systemic and therefore there is a need for a systemic response to it, with both horizontal and vertical measures, so that each country can regulate its own affairs at the same time as strengthening our financial tools," he said.
"We are all in the same boat in Europe," he added, underlining the need to protect the eurozone's economic stability.
During an earlier visit to the Greek Parliament, Rehn met Greek Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos, who again repeated the need to extend the repayment period for the loans given to Greece under the bailout mechanism.
Petsalnikos called for an EU policy with a "broader horizon for dealing with the problems" and a focus on European unification, while he criticised the objections of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the issue of Eurobonds as "hasty and not positive".
 Rehn: Commission to recommend loan repayment extensionThe European Commission will submit in early 2011 a recom-mendation to the Council of Finance Ministers for extension of the repayment period for Greece's 110 billion euro EU-IMF support loan, EU Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn said on Thursday after a meeting with finance minister George Papaconstantinou in Athens, stressing that Greece is on a good road and regaining its credibility.
Rehn said that the Council of Finance Ministers is prepared to positively examine an extension of the loan repayment. This, he added, should eliminate doubts in the markets as to whether Greece is capable of repaying its loans.
Asked on the prospect of a new loan being extended to Greece after the completion of the three-year program being implemen-ted by the Greek government, Rehn expressed conviction that the three-year program will lead to Greece's return to the interna-tional markets and that, given the extension of the repayment period for the assistance given to the country, a new loan will not be necessary. Asked if the Commission agrees with the measures due to be announced later in the day on streamlining the public utilities and organisations (DEKO), on labor relations and taxation, Rehn replied in the affirmative, noting that the Commission has approved the content of those measures.
He noted, however, that although the first indications from the assessment of Greece are positive, what is needed from this point on is materialisation of the structural reforms.
On the prospective issue of a eurobond to tackle the debt crisis in the EU, Rehn reiterated an older statement that, theoretically, he considers the idea very attractive, adding that the Commission examines every proposal coming from a member state.
 Rehn addresses Parliament, confident 2011 budget can succeedAddressing the Greek Parliament on Thursday, European Com-missioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn appeared confident that the Greek government's 2011 budget was capable of reducing the public deficit by 2.5 percent of GDP so that no additional measures would be needed.
"Greece is on the proper course and on the right path, making great progress in a programme of fundamental reforms," Rehn said while briefing the Greek Parliament committees on Econo-mic and European affairs.
The Commissioner also assured MPs that the repayment period for Greek loans will be extended without imposing any new terms, specifying that the discussion will take place on the basis of the existing memorandum to which an amendment will be added.
Rehn also predicted that market confidence in Greece might well be restored within the space of three years, so that the country could once again borrow on the markets from 2012 or 2013.
Defending the terms of the Memorandum, the Commissioner stressed that the medium and long-term goals of the package of measures was to allow growth and make Greece competitive. He noted that structural changes caused people to worry about the future when they had to be made rapidly and change habits but added that this was unavoidable at the current time.
Rehn emphasised the need to soon carry out reforms concerning labour, insurance and pension systems, saying that this would improve the environment for investment. While noting that significant progress had been made in several areas, he stressed that major challenges still remained, especially in overhauling the system for collecting taxes, fighting tax evasion and opening closed professions.
"Greece is not alone. It is making efforts and we are at its side," he said, noting that the specific conjunction had accelerated the changes but that he was confident that Greeks would "seize the opportunities" and make use of them.
Meanwhile, in later press statements, Rehn expressed the European Commission's full support to efforts made by Athens and the Greek government to get out of the crisis.
Rehn made the statements after meetings with Prime Minister George Papandreou, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor George Provopoulos.
"Greece is not alone in its effort to get out of the crisis," Rehn stated, adding that everybody in the EU should work as Europeans to limit the international market turbulence and help economic growth in Greece and in Europe.
"The European Commission welcomes the effort made by the Greek government to restructure the Greek economy," he stated, adding that there is "determination on behalf of the Greek government to implement fiscal reform and reduce deficit. The reforms made are impressive and the Greek statistical figures are, at last, genuine and credible."
"The efforts made in 2010 were much better than anticipated despite the fact that the initial target for the deficit is not feasible due to the revision and the limited revenues. The measures included in the 2011 budget correspond to 6 pct of the GDP and will allow a further deficit reduction," Rehn stated. He underlined that Greece will see the end of the tunnel next year and economic growth will give positive signs in the beginning of the second half of 2012.
The European Commissioner underlined the need for more reforms in the sector of health, implementation of measures against tax evasion, restructuring of public utility companies and opening of the "closed-shop" professions. He ruled out the creation of a European Union of many speeds and stated that the European Council focuses on limited changes in the Treaty.
On the Euro-bond issue, he stated that the discussion on the issue is long and intense stressing that the Euro-bond is attractive as a thought.
Responding to a question concerning wage reductions in the private sector, he stated the EU supports the measures that will make it easier for the private sector to allow the Greek economy to become more competitive in terms of cost.
He stated that there is no need for a new loan and instead the EU is in favour of the extension of the repayment period.
"Early next year, a decision will be made to extend the repayment period to 7.5 years," he said, ruling out the imposition of new terms and measures as a result of the repayment extension.
"The goal is to ensure equal treatment of the member-states," he said, referring to the bailout loans for Greece and Ireland.
He also said that he is convinced that the economic reform programme will be effective and allow Greece to recover as soon as possible.
 PM Papandreou on corruptionPrime Minister George Papandreou referred to the international day against corruption in his opening address during Thursday's cabinet meeting. He said that corruption is a global phenomenon and its handling requires international cooperation. He added that corruption does not only affect the quality of democracy, but determines the cohesion of society and the ability of an economy to develop in a balanced and viable way.
Referring to the Greek dimension of the phenomenon, Papandreou stressed that "the fiscal deficits and the debts in our country were only the tip of the iceberg," because, as he said, "before the fiscal deficit, there was the transparency deficit in the operation of institutions, in fiscal management, the functioning of the political system."
The prime minister referred to "the war that the government has declared on corruption," underlining that the electoral law will also be tabled soon, which will contribute to the handling of the problem. "If we do not solve the problem, the effort we are making will be in vain," Papandreou noted.
 Emergency cost-cutting, tax bill tabled in ParliamentA draft bill citing "urgent measures for the implementation of the support programme" was tabled in Parliament on Thursday evening, foreseeing changes to collective labour agreements, deep reforms in the labour market and wide-ranging wage cuts in loss-making state utilities and enterprises. The bill was discussed during a meeting of the cabinet earlier in the day.
The bill will be debated via an urgent process at the economic affairs committee on Monday, in one session, and will be unveiled for a plenum vote on Tuesday.
Measures are linked directly to the achievement of the targets and the smooth implementation of the country's Economic Policy Programme and must be in force as of Jan. 1, 2011.
Amongst others, the draft law foresees the following measures:
-An increase in the reduced VAT rate from 11 percent to 13 percent and in the lowest reduced rate from 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent.
-A decrease in the VAT rate for pharmaceuticals and stays at hotels and accommodation from the currently applied 11 percent to the new 6.5 percent rate.
As regards policy and limits for hirings in the public sector "overall implementation of the rule of 1 hiring for every 5 withdrawals from the public sector."
On the question of arrangements for the Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) "salaries will be decreased by 10 percent for salaries in excess of 1,800 euros, the 'customer serving' bonus will be abolished, while the amount in favour of low salary earners will continue."
The hirings of 700 people that had been determined following an ATE test are cancelled.
 PM tells cabinet meeting 'social partners' role being strengthened'Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking at the cabinet meeting on the Employment ministry's bill, presented by the relevant Minister Louka Katseli, said, according to authoritative reports, that the role of social partners is being boosted.
Papandreou further said that the bill's arrangement also constitutes a challenge for the trade union movement itself to state its position on new forms, so that jobs are not lost. And that the role of the Labour Inspection must be strengthened.
The prime minister added that in parallel, a safety net is being created for working people, like the welfare system, the protection of the unemployed and their additional education, training and preparation so that they can return to the labour market.
The great importance of the development law was also stressed. During the relative discussion, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou proposed the creation of a coupon with which the state will be able to pay its debts in businesses, which in turn will use it to pay off their obligations towards social insurance funds etc. She also proposed the creation of a venture capital, so that the possibility will also be given to private capital to invest in the country.
 Employment Minister Katseli on social partnersEmployment and Social Solidarity Minister Louka Katseli, speaking after the cabinet meeting on Thursday, said that "with the special enterprise collective contracts the individual contracts are weakened and the collective contracts are strengthened."
Katseli stressed that it is no longer the employer's right to do what he likes but how salaries will be determined, among other things, work in turns and part-time employment, this is a "field of understanding and negotiating between the social partners."
The minister further noted that this new element "in essence strengthens the role of social partners in businesses."
 ND leader calls for nat'l contract on transparencyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday called for the signing of a national contract that will guarantee transparency, legality and good management.
In a message on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day, he underlined that there should be "no tolerance and no delays in combating corruption. We have a duty to declare a war on corruption on all levels and in all sectors".
Samaras underlined that Greece is among the EU countries with widespread corruption, adding that its consequences "are more obvious now that our country is plagued by the crisis".
 KKE leader on gov't measures"If you get past the cause, either intentionally or because of ignorance, then you cannot find a medicine or the medicine administered is dangerous for the people; to mimic (IMF leader) Strauss-Kahn's humour who presented the IMF as a doctor," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said on Thursday.
Speaking in a press conference, she underlined that "a war has been declared against the workers in Greece and the rest of Europe and we have to be prepared to ensure that the war will end with the victory of the people".
Papariga stressed that the memorandum signed with the troika (IMF, ECB, EU) will not solve the debt problem, adding that the deficit will not be tackled through spending cuts and tax collection.
Papariga maintained that the only response is to set up a "Social Popular Front" against the cruel measures adopted by the government while she also criticised opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) accusing it of "compromise and defeatism".
 EU Council of Defence ministersCooperation between the European Defence Organisation with Turkey, in the framework of European Union-NATO coopera-tion, as well as issues related to the development of the EU's mi-litary potential, the development of the ATALANTA operation in Somalia and the ALTHEA operation in Bosnia-Herzegivina, operations in which Greece is participating, were discussed during Thursday's Council of EU Defence ministers in Brussels.
Greece was represented by Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
According to an announcement by the Defence ministry, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated his propo-sals, regarding the issue of EU-NATO cooperation, in the frame-work of the general directions of the two organisations' latest summits, emphasising the need for facilitating the European Defence Organisation's (EDA) cooperation with Turkey and an EU-Turkey security agreement to be signed.
Venizelos stressed in his addresses the need for safeguarding the institutional equality of all the EU member-states, called on the NATO secretary general to exercise his influence in the direction of Turkey, since the problem is located in the fact that despite Turkey's candidacy for EU accession it does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and also called on all the international officials to facilitate the process of discussions for a political solution to the issue of Cyprus, between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, in the framework of relative UN resolutions.
 President receives Kuwait Emir's special envoyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received Sheikh Fahad Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, the special envoy of the Emir of Kuwait, who conveyed a letter from the Emir on promoting relations with Greece.
Sheikh Fahad also conveyed the warm greetings of the Emir, noting that his country does not forget that Greece responded to an appeal by Kuwait when it was going through a crisis, and is safeguarding these friendly relations.
He also spoke with admiration of Greece's and the Greeks' contribution to culture, philosophy and art.
Papoulias, in turn, said that Kuwait is an important power in the sector of energy, and is also working for peace in the region.
 TI report on Greece points to lack of citizens' trust in parties, Parliament institutions, mediaPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received the president of the Transparency International (TI) section in Greece, Konstantinos Bakouris, on the occasion of the release of the Global Corruption Barometer for 2010, which the latter described as "not encouraging".
According to Bakouris, a former top corporate executive, results of the survey demonstrate a distinct lack in citizens' trust of primary state institutions, with "political parties being amongst the institutions losing the most in terms of their trustworthiness."
Conversely, in a more-or-less positive light, Bakouris said it is encouraging that for the first time a majority of respondents believe they can make a difference, or are willing to back colleagues or friends in the fight against corruption.
Specifically in its report on Greece, the local branch of IT reiterates that the east Mediterranean country is not excluded from the sceptre of corruption, pointing to political parties, Parliament and mass media as the institutions enjoying the lowest confidence amongst the public.
Even institutions widely considered as transparent and incorruptible (NGOs, the Church of Greece) slipped in the standings.
The entire survey was held in 86 countries with a sample of 90,000 people.
 Patriarch receives Greek army chiefISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Thursday received visiting Hellenic Army general staff chief Lt.-Gen. Frangoulis Frangos at the Patriarchate's Fanar headquarters.
The high-ranking Greek military officer is on an official visit to Turkey, where he previously served as military attaché and defence attaché at the Greek embassy in Ankara.
 Rehn: No euro crisis; fiscal stability the problem in eurozoneOptimism that the euro-zone and Europe will successfully cope with the problems they face vis-à-vis the ongoing debt crisis, as well as strong concern over the way this will be achieved, was expressed by EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Olli Rehn and Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Thursday, both keynote speakers at the Economist conference entitled "Keeping the euro alive: Greece's economic recovery".
Rehn stressed that the current situation is not a euro crisis but one fiscal stability problems in the euro-zone.
He acknowledged that there is a deeper crisis in Europe, considering that Greece is not the only country with problems and stressed that the implementation of radical measures aimed at improving the economic governance of the euro-zone is necessary to solve these problems.
"There has been no major progress on this issue," he said, adding that "we have come a long way since last spring but still we have not reached our goal".
"Very strong will and a sense of a common goal and responsibility on behalf of the European political leaders, the central bankers and all the Europeans, the entire society of the citizens, is necessary in order to get there," he said, stressing, however, that "we have the determination to materialize what the founders of the Treaty of Rome had envisioned."
Responding to question on whether measures should be implemented in the case countries like Germany, with surpluses in their current accounts balance, and not just in the case of countries with deficits, Rehn stated that "we should consider both sides of the coin", adding that the problem in Germany is being dealt through increased domestic demand.
Papaconstantinou opened his speech by stressing that Greece found itself in the "eye of the storm" as a result of the macroeconomic mismanagement of recent years and because of the lack of credibility in its statistical figures, as well as euro-zone weaknesses, as he said. "In a way, Greece became an example of the euro-zone system's weaknesses."
He underlined that the discussion in Europe on overcoming the debt crisis should focus more on the issue of economic growth and expressed doubts on whether the crisis could be faced if all Euro-zone countries proceed simultaneously with deficit reduction programmes.
"Under the present circumstances only a few countries have the luxury not to resort to restrictive policies and Greece is not among them because over the next few years it will have to implement a tough fiscal adjustment policy which is totally unavoidable and eventually will lead to growth," he said.
"However, this is not the case with all EU countries. Therefore, we should find a balance because there is always a risk that a fiscal adjustment - in which everybody will hit the breaks at the same time - could lead the euro-zone to a slowdown that will not allow us to solve our fiscal problems," he added.
Referring to the developmental policy, Papaconstantinou underlined the importance of Euro-bonds and their dual role namely, in the financing of major investments and coping with the debt problem.
Responding to a question if he would have preferred Greece not joining the EMU in 2001 via "creative accounting", Papaconstantinou dismissed the insinuation and responded negatively, stressing that this was not the case for Greece, considering that the same rules were in effect for all participating countries.
"The euro was a positive development for Greece because it helped investments and led to increased incomes," he said, adding that "we should not blame the euro for the economy's structural problems. The alternative would have been a weaker national currency that would have led to low living standards," he said.
 IMF's Thomsen cites needs for major reforms throughout Greek economy, societyDrastic social insurance reform, major changes in the job market, deregulation of all professions and reform of public utilities were the top proposals cited on Thursday by the IMF mission's chief for Greece Poul Thomsen, who addressed an event hosted by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
Thomsen clarified that Greece's efforts are still at an early stage, "which is the hardest", as he said, adding that until now all goals have been met. However, he insisted that the huge public sector will have to be reduced in size and called for deep structural reforms.
He also referred to the four key-points in the restructure effort namely, the public utility companies, spending cuts, tax collection, health / social insurance. He stressed that reform is a political and social issue and not strictly economic, adding that drastic social insurance reform is necessary as well as major changes in the job market sector, deregulation of all professions and public utility reform. He clarified that the memorandum measures were decided by the Greek government and that the IMF does not demand wage reductions.
He pointed out that a lot of effort is still needed in order to have economic growth, stressing that this fact makes him feel disappointed with the absence of political consensus in the implementation of the memorandum. He also called on the business sector to offer its assistance to this historical effort made by Greece.
Earlier, speaking at an Economist conference in the seaside resort of Kavouri, Thomsen stressed that reduction of Greece's fiscal deficit and the economy's recovery require the advancement of a "critical mass of reforms".
He added that Greece is at a crossroads, saying it must carry out simultaneous reforms at many levels, such as in tackling tax evasion and curbing wasteful spending in the wider public sector.
"Today we are counterbalancing the shortfall in tax revenues with further cuts in public expenditure, but this cannot go on indefinitely," he warned.
The recovery of the Greek economy, which under the stabilisation program is anticipated in end-2011, has as a prerequisite the existence of additional structural changes, Thomsen said.
The IMF official said that significant achievements have been made in reducing the country's deficit, which reached 6 percent of GDP, and in the structural changes, the chief of which was the reform of the pension system.
Commenting on criticism of the recession in the Greek economy in the first year of the stability programme, Thomsen noted that recession has been observed in every country in the world where a huge fiscal adjustment was required with change of the currency parity.
He attributed the disappointment that arose to the lack of wider political support of the stabilisation program and the impression created that magical solutions existed.
Thomsen also stressed that reductions of salaries and pensions in order to further reduce Greece's fiscal deficit cannot continue.
"The government had great courage and drastically limited the salary cost. But we cannot continue reducing salaries and pensions indefinitely," he said, adding that "Greece must learn to be taxed, and the waste in state enterprises, many of which give salaries much above the average salary, needs to be reduced".
The IMF official also said that the problem of reducing the deficit is not only an economic but also a political one, noting that a broader political consensus is needed to advance the program and for it to continue to be socially acceptable, adding that in order for that support to be maintained, it is very important that fiscal adjustment is effected through fiscal reforms.
Thomsen said that the next reforms being advanced by the government, such as the opening of the closed-shop professions and deregulation of the economy, will be very difficult from a technical viewpoint, and for this reason heightened efforts will be required in the coming months.
To a relevant question, Thomsen said that Greece will have a primary surplus and growth as of the end of 2011, and in that way it will control its state debt.
 Rehn, Commission officials have lunch with central bank governorEuropean Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, in Athens on Thursday for talks with the Greek government, had an informal working lunch with Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos and afterwards noted his support for the work of the country's central bank.
Rehn noted that the crisis in Greece mainly concerned its public finances and not the banking sector, noting that the Bank of Greece had taken all measures needed to ensure the stability of Greece's financial system.
Apart from Rehn, attending the meal were Olli Rehn's spokesman Amadeu Altafaj and the representative of the European Commission in the EU-IMF troika Servaas Deroose.
 Deputy Culture, Tourism minister on Russian touristsMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis, speaking to the Russian RIA-Novosti agency on the occasion of his visit to Moscow, said that Greece is planning to double the number of Russian tourists from the next tourist season.
"Russia is one of the most important markets for Greek tourism. In the past season the Russian tourists were about 330,000. I want to hope that this number will increase in double in 2011 and maybe even more," Nikitiadis said, explaining that the Greek government has decreased taxes and is taking a series of other measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the Greek tourist product and to keep prices low.
"I am absolutely certain that if there wasn't the problem of the visa, then the Russians who visit Greece would be many more than today, one, one and a half million a year," he said, adding that he has discussed the issue with his counterparts in the European Union.
"The issuing process will be more simple, we shall be giving more easily multiple entry visas or visas of a great duration, for six months and more," Nikitiadis concluded, also inviting investors from Russia.
 Canadian int'l trade minister in AthensThe importance of progress in the implementation of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was underlined by visiting Canadian International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan during a meeting with Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis in Athens on Thursday.
Their talks focused on the cooperation potential in the sectors of investments and trade.
Chryssohoidis briefed the Canadian delegation on the initiatives undertaken for the creation of a business-friendly environment, while highlighting the investment opportunities in Greece. He also referred to the new strategy aimed at boosting extroversion outlined on Wednesday aimed at promoting the Greek products and businesses in international markets.
On his part, the Canadian government minister stated that he is impressed with the steps made by the Greek government as regards the fiscal adjustment and the reinforcement of competitiveness.
 GDP declines 4.6 pct in 3rd quarter 2010The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Thursday announced that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 3rd quarter of 2010 decreased by 4.6% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2009 and by 1.3% in comparison with the 2nd quarter of 2010, based on provisional data.
ELSTAT's announcement noted that the GDP rate of change between the quarters of 2009 and 2010 should be treated with caution, due to the discontinuity of General Government data series, adding that this issue would be addressed by the end of the year, with the backwards revision of General Government data.
Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) decreased by 20.0% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2009. By asset, GFCF in dwellings decreased by 17.1%, in other construction by 10.4%, in other machinery and equipment by 25.4% and in transport equipment by 33.2%.
Total final consumption expenditure recorded a decrease of 5.5% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2009. General government consumption decreased by 4.7%, while private consumption recorded a decrease of 5.8%.
External trade deficit decreased by 42.2%, contributing positively to the GDP percent change. Imports decreased by 17.8% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2009. Imports of goods decreased by 22.2% while imports of services increased by 0.7%.
Exports decreased by 1.1% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2009. Exports of goods decreased by 2.6% while exports of services marginally increased by 0.04%.
As regards the production approach of GDP, total gross value added decreased by 6.3% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2009 and by 0.2% in comparison with the previous quarter.
Increase in gross value added was recorded only in agriculture, forestry and fishing industry by 2.8%.
On the other hand, the gross value added decreased in the other industries: manufacturing, mining, electricity, gas and water supply industry by 7.0%, construction industry by 13.8%, trade, hotels-restaurants, transport and communication industry by 11.9%, financial, real estate, renting and business activities industry by 2.2% and in other service activities industry by 1.7%.
Compensation of employees, at current prices, decreased by 6.1% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2009.
 Material deprivation affects both poor and non-poor Greeks, survey findsNearly one in four or 24.1 percent of Greeks defined as poor but also 3.3 percent of those described as non-poor are unable to afford a meal containing meat, chicken, fish or a vegetarian equivalent every second day, according to a survey on income and living conditions indicators in 2009 released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority on Thursday.
Based on the findings of the study, this and other indicators of material deprivation affected both sections of Greek society defined as relatively poor (those earning less than 60% of the median total equivalized disposable income) but also parts of the non-poor population.
Material deprivation indicators included arrears on mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, hire purchase instalments or other loan payments, incapacity to afford paying for one week's annual holiday away from home, incapacity to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day, incapacity to face unexpected financial expenses, being unable to afford a telephone (including mobile phone), a colour TV or a washing machine, households unable to afford a car and those unable to pay to keep homes adequately warm.
Among the results of the survey were the following:
49.2% of the poor population aged under 18 years old faces is unable to afford and faces an enforced lack of at least three of the nine material deprivation indicators, while the respective percentage of non-poor population is estimated at 16.7%.
52.6% of the poor population aged 18-64 years old is unable to afford and faces an enforced lack of at least three out of nine material deprivation items, while the respective percentage of non-poor population is estimated at 15.0%.
55.7% of the poor population aged 65 years old and over, is unable to afford and faces an enforced lack of at least three out of nine material deprivation items, while the respective percentage of non-poor population is estimated at 17.3 %.
52.5% of poor population is unable to afford and faces an enforced lack of at least three, out of nine, material deprivation items in the 'economic strain and durables' dimension, while the respective percentage of the non-poor population is estimated at 15.7%.
60.3% of the poor population and 21.4% of non poor population is unable to meet unexpected financial expenses with a value of approximately 500 euro.
Pollution, grime or other environmental problems, noise from neighbours or the street, affect 23.4% of total population, while the 16.4% of the above population reports as problems crime, violence or vandalism in the area.
65.5 % of the non poor population has a slight financial burden from total housing cost, while the respective percentage for the poor population is estimated at 53.9%.
18.5% of the total population has a slight financial burden for the repayment of debts from hire purchases or loans.
35.8% of poor households is in arrears with utility bills such as electricity, water, gas etc.
39.4% of the poor population reports having great difficulty in making ends meet (coping with usual needs) with the total monthly income.
The lowest monthly income to make ends meet has risen at 2,219.45 euro. For poor households the respective amount is at 1,752.08 euro, while for non poor it is 2,340.25 euro.
19.9% of poor households, 7.9% of non poor households and 10.4% of total households do not have a car, while 16.9% of the poor population, 8.8% of the non poor and 10.5% of total households do not have a personal computer, although needed, due to lack of financial resources.
The El.STAT. survey was derived from the available data of the European Union Survey on Income and Living Conditions of Households, year 2009 using the previous calender year 2008 as the reference income period.
 ELSTAT reports decline in building activity in SeptemberProvisional data published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Thursday indicated that the volume of Total Building Activity decreased 23.2 percent in September 2010 compared with the same month in 2009.
ELSTAT figures showed that total public and private Building Activity in the whole country, in terms of the number of building permits issued nationwide, amounted to 3.970 in September. This figure corresponded to 880.4 thousand m2 of surface and 3,128.6 thousand m3 of volume, reflecting respectively a 15.0% decrease in the number of building permits, a 17.2% decrease in surface and a 23.2% decrease in volume, compared to the same month of 2009
Private Building Activity in the whole country came to 3,927 building permits, corresponding to 854.7 thousand m2 of surface and 3,032.4 thousand m 3 of volume. In comparison with the same month of 2009, there was a 15.1% decrease in the number of building permits, a 16.3% decrease in surface and a 21.9% decrease in volume.
Public Building Activity in the whole country in September 2010 amounted to 43 building permits, corresponding to 25.7 thousand m2 of surface and 96.2 thousand m3 of volume. The Public Building Activity accounted for 3.1% of total building volume in September 2010.
In the last twelve months, from October 2009 until September 2010, there was a 10.8% decrease in the number of building permits, a 19.7% decrease in surface and a 24.0% decrease in volume, compared with the corresponding period of October 2008 - September 2009. During the same period, Public Building Activity accounted for the 3.0% of the total building volume.
During the period January-September 2010, total Building Activity(private-public) in the whole country recorded a 10.9% decrease in the number of issued building permits, a 20.7% decrease in surface and a 25.7% decrease in volume, compared with the same period of the year 2009.
 Public transport work stoppages on Sunday, MondayThe Athens public transport employees will be observing work stoppages on Sunday and Monday, reacting to the changes being promoted by the government, in the organising field of urban transport and in labour issues.
The trade unions of public transport employees have called a work stoppage from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, the day on which the Athens trade society has decided that shops will be open.
Another work stoppage will be taking place on Monday, December 13, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
 Tour coach owners' group warns of mobilisationsThe federation (GEPOET) representing tour coach owners on Thursday announced mobilisations "that will not hurt the tourism industry" if the sector's demands for reduced VAT are rejected by the finance minister, it warned.
The tour bus owners are protesting against a VAT increase estimated at 45 pct.
GEPOET officials stressed that mobilisations will include rallies in Athens and other major cities nationwide with the participation of owners and their vehicles.
 Stocks rebound on Thur.Stocks rebounded at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market up 1.24 pct to end at 1,542.41 points. Turnover was a moderate 91.31 million euros.
The Big Cap index gained 1.28 pct, the Mid Cap index was up 1.38 and the Small Cap index rose 0.43 pct.
Foodstuffs (2.97 pct) and Banks (2.46 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Recreation (2.35 pct) and Utilities (2.02 pct) posted the biggest losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 116 to 51 with another 57 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.70%
Personal & Household: +0.55%
Raw Materials: -0.68%
Travel & Leisure: -2.35%
Food & Beverages: +2.97%
Financial Services: +0.23%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.35
HBC Coca Cola: 20.15
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.79
National Bank of Greece: 7.30
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.60
Bank of Piraeus: 3.40
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 0.35 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 62.319 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,779 contracts worth 50.299 million euros, with 34,019 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,879 contracts worth 12.019 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,095), followed by Ellaktor (3,520), Piraeus Bank (2,545), MIG (2,121), Alpha Bank (2,079), Eurobank (1,947), GEK (1,373) and OTE (1,363).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bond widened on Thurday to 881 from 861 basis points on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.73 pct and the German Bund 2.92 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 6 million euros of which 2 million were buy orders and the remaining 4 million euros were sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 3 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.52 pct, the six-month rate was 1.25 pct, the three-month 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.82 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.332
Pound sterling 0.844
Danish kroner 7.515
Swedish kroner 9.204
Japanese yen 111.91
Swiss franc 1.316
Norwegian kroner 8.018
Canadian dollar 1.346
Australian dollar 1.353
 Ski resorts await first snow over weekendSki resort operators throughout northern Greece are keeping a close watch on the weather bulletins this week as the first real snowfall of the winter season is forecast for the weekend, ending a nearly month-long period of unseasonably fair weather in the east Mediterranean country -- in stark contrast with snow-bound north and northwest Europe.
Operators this season are expected to offer more competitive holiday packages in tune with the crisis-plagued economy, along with added attractions, such as night-time skiing.
"We're ready, the necessary works have already been done, and the only thing we're waiting for is enough snow in order to open the ski resort to visitors. We're hopeful that the coming weekend will be the one," Thomas Apostolou, the manager of the Kaimaktsalan resort on Greece's northern frontier said.
Other ski resorts further to the west, such as Vassilitsa, in mountainous Grevena prefecture, and the noted village of Tria-Pente Pigadia, near Naoussa, expect the forecast freezing temperatures to lure excursionists to the mountain resorts, regardless of the amount of snow that sticks to the slopes.
 OSE rail tracks vandalisedAn extensive section of the Hellenic Rails (OSE) train track network was once again targeted by vandals on Thursday, OSE said.
OSE employees discovered the vandalism at dawn Thursday, in the Kiourka region, where vandals had cut electricity cables resulting in a halt in train circulation in that section.
The Athens-Halkida-Athens route, as a consequence, has been disrupted and passengers are being transferred to buses for the route, while large delays have also resulted in several other itineraries.
OSE said that incidents of sabotage of its tracks have increased in recent months, with three such incidents recorded in the Athens-Oinoi section in as many weeks.
 2 bodies found at landfillTwo bodies were found on Wednesday evening dumped in bags at the Ano Liossia landfill, police said.
The bodies were found by a scavenger at the site, with authorities immediately informed.
According to reports, the victims' hands and feet were tied, while initial reports cite the high probability that they are foreign nationals.
Four defendants on 'group of six' terrorist case to be remanded in custody
Four defendants in the terrorism case will be remanded in custody, following their testimonies before the 31st investigating magistrate on Thursday.
The four made their testimonies on charges of joining a terrorist group, terrorist acts, felony weapon possession and the procurement and possession of explosive materials.
The other two defendants in the group of six have already been ordered to be remanded in custody since Tuesday, following the testimonies they made.
 Drug dealer arrested in AthensÁ 23-year-old man was arrested on Thursday in Athens charged with drug dealing. The Thessaloniki Drug Squad, after an organised operation, found on the suspect's possession as well as in his residence in the Athens district of Neo Kosmo half a kilo of cocaine, two mobile phones and 300 euros cash deriving from drug dealing.
According to police the man is an Albanian national and will be led before a prosecutor.
 Driver arrested for carrying 11 illegal immigrantsA SUV carrying 11 illegal immigrants crashed into parked cars and was ultimately stopped in the village of Mitroussi, Serres prefecture, following a police chase by up 12 patrol cars late on Wednesday night.
The driver was identified as a foreign national, while 11 Pakistani illegal immigrants, including a minor, were found inside the jeep.
The suspect was arrested, while one of the illegals is being treated in the Serres hospital.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 4-10 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 0C and 20C. Local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 13C. Showers or sleet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 4C to 8C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceChanges in labor relations in the public utilities and organisations (DEKO) and taxation and speculation of restructuring of Greece's debt were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New salary scale in OSE (Hellenic Rail Organisation) - Pilot for all the DEKO".
AVGHI: "Razing of salaries, no restrictions on layoffs".
AVRIANI: "Return to the drachma and renegotiation of the state debt".
ELEFTHEROS: "Salaries to be 'shaved'."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Razing of salaries in the private sector".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Upsets in labor - Omnibus bill changes remuneration, contracts, services, job positions".
ESTIA: "The Memorandum an alibi for the government".
ETHNOS: "Heavy cuts (in DEKO employees' remuneration, otherwise shutdown or sale".
IMERISSIA: "National Bank sees 'light' at end of tunnel".
KATHIMERINI: "All the fronts opening up".
LOGOS: "40 percent reduction in remuneration in the DEKO".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Road opens for reductions in remune-ration".
NIKI: "Creation of brand-name for Greek products".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government abolishing the collective labor agreements - Everyone show up at today's demonstrations".
TA NEA: "Christmas bonus - Who and how much they will (not) receive".
VRADYNI: "Fear sending people to early retirement".
 German FM: Ankara must meet EU obligationsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Germany does not want a stalemate in Turkey's EU accession negotiations, but expects Ankara to fulfill the European criteria, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said after a meeting in Berlin with Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.
"Turkey is already a key partner for us and we believe that it is to the benefit of the EU as a whole to continue deepening our relations at all levels. Turkey must not miss the opportunity to fulfill its obligations with regard to the possible opening of the chapter on competition. We are ready to help under the precondition that Turkey will fulfill its obligations," Westerwelle said, according to an official press release issued here on Thursday, a day after the Berlin meeting.
As regards the Cyprus question he said that "a settlement is not only to the benefit of Germany but of Europe as a whole." He expressed satisfaction that both Germany and Cyprus support this view, noting that a settlement requires flexibility from all sides "and for this reason we support efforts made by the UN for many decades."
He added that the UN has clearly enhanced their efforts and the UN Secretary General has personally intervened in the process of the negotiations. "Once again we've been discussing about the potentials of discussing the issue next week in the framework of the General Affairs Council in Brussels," he said.
On his part Kyprianou underlined that Cyprus supports a European Turkey, noting that in order to become European, Ankara should abide by the process provided at the accession negotiations, including the fulfillment of the obligations which the EU has set out with regard to Cyprus.
"We consider that through the process Turkey will be able to contribute to the settlement of the Cyprus problem which is one of the preconditions set out in 2005. Of course we are ready to cooperate with our partners in order to handle this further process," he noted.
Kyprianou said that he briefed his German counterpart on developments in the ongoing Cyprus talks, especially after the meeting between UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglou in New York and assured of "our commitment to the success of this process for a federal settlement, for a bizonal, bicommunal federation, that will ensure the reunification of the island, maintain reunification after the settlement, be viable and durable and secure that there will be one state with a single international personality, a single citizenship and one and single sovereignty."
With regard to the Middle East problem, he said that through Cyprus the EU is now in the region. He added that as regards the substance of the issue "our views are identical with those of the German government."
Asked about the chapter of competition, Kyprianou said that if Turkey fulfills its obligations and abides by the rules for the opening of chapters Nicosia will be ready to see it open.
Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
Turkey which aspires to become an EU member state does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
 Rasmussen reiterates proposal for Cyprus-Turkey issueBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated on Thursday, to the EU Ministers of Defence, his proposal for a solution to the dispute between Cyprus and Turkey, which hinders the enhancement of cooperation between NATO and the EU.
Replying to questions, Rasmussen said ''the basic problem still exists'' and referred to ''the division of Cyprus and the dispute connected to that.''
''I consider that the NATO Summit in Lisbon took a clear step forward also as regards the NATO-EU relationship. In the new Strategic Concept we have provided the political framework for making further progress. But in order to make progress we need to take some concrete steps and in today's meeting I have repeated my proposal as to how we could move forward'', he said.
Rasmussen noted that he presented ''the package which on the one hand is a message to the EU to conclude an arrangement between Turkey and the European Defence Agency, and in that context also a security arrangement between Turkey and the EU, and on the other hand of course also a clear emphasis on the fact that cooperation between NATO and the EU must take place with all member states of the EU.''
''This is a balanced approach. I have reiterated that today and the High Representative Ashton and I will move forward on that basis,'' he concluded.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since May 2004. Ankara has so far refused to meet its obligations to the EU relating to Cyprus, including normalizing relations with Nicosia.
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