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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 Issue No: 3680


  • [01] Minister on future of urban transports
  • [02] PM to chair cabinet meeting on Wednesday
  • [03] Talks on hospital debt repayments dead end
  • [04] Greece, Russia agree to boost farm trade
  • [05] Gas pump cheating instances under scrutiny
  • [06] Opposition parties on gas prices, reforms, foreign policy
  • [07] Outstanding tax obligations settlement deadline extended
  • [08] EBEA head: Danger of bankruptcy hasn't been averted
  • [09] OTE trade union issues strong response to DT official's statements
  • [10] Civil aviation union calls off strike
  • [11] Public transport means to operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday
  • [12] Consumer group reports 5% increase in prices for basic goods
  • [13] Stocks end higher
  • [14] Greek bond market closing report
  • [15] ADEX closing report
  • [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [17] Renovated Pedio tou Areos park delivered to Athenians
  • [18] Athens Academy gives awards
  • [19] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [20] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Minister on future of urban transports

    Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas on Tuesday referred to the government's plans as regards the future of urban transport in Attiki on the occasion of the mobilizations announced by employees in the public transport companies operating in the greater Athens region.

    Reppas stated the plans include the establishment of a Metropolitan Urban Transport Authority and the reorganization of the public transport companies currently in operation through their merger from five to two; one for the road transport means and one for the rail-based.

    He underlined that the restructuring was necessary for better operation and improved quality services, adding that the government will enter a discussion with the employees before a relevant draft law will be tabled in parliament next month.

    Reppas stated the employee mobilisations are unjustified and assured that the public nature of transport will be maintained while no job positions will be lost, pointing out, however, that safeguarding the viability of the transport companies is a priority.

    "The people should not be the ones to pay for the huge deficits in Athens' urban transport that were the result of mismanagement, bad planning and unjustified high operating cost," he stressed, adding that "the social and public interests should be above trade unionist interests".

    [02] PM to chair cabinet meeting on Wednesday

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will chair a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

    The issues that will be examined, among others, will be:

    - Draft bill on Unified register for farm products merchants, supplies and inflows.

    -Draft bill a Restructuring of the support structures of the paedagogical, educational and digital planning of the Education ministry.

    -Draft bill on the Amendment of the system for the preparation of studies, carrying out of public works and creation of authority for the control of studies and projects.

    -Draft bill on Restructuring of labour inspectors corps.

    -Draft bill on Creation of authority for the combatting of the legalisation of revenues from criminal activities and the funding of terrorism and the checking of property declarations.

    [03] Talks on hospital debt repayments dead end

    Discussions between officials from the health ministry and suppliers of state hospitals over payment of debts totaling 300 million euros reached a dead-end on Tuesday, with the disagreement is expected to be resolved in the courts.

    Suppliers rejected a proposal by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos to accept a 20-pct discount on the debt for 2010. The ministry will repay its debt totaling 1.150 billion euros to suppliers by mid-January, but the two sides failed to reach agreement over the remaining 300 million euros of debt.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos said if the government managed to save 250 million euros from a spending cuts programme and a timely payment of new supplies, it might not need to change the supply system, stressing that "unless a discount is made we cannot pay our debts".

    Loverdos said the government has agreed that payment to hospital suppliers would be made in real time, within 45 days from delivery.

    Financial News

    [04] Greece, Russia agree to boost farm trade

    Greece and Russia on Tuesday agreed to establish a regular round of contacts to boost cooperation and activate a working group for the agricultural sector, as well as to expand existing bilateral agreements.

    The agreement was reached during a meeting between Agricultural Development & Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis and Russian ambassador Vladimir I. Chkhikvishvili.

    A ministry announcement said the meeting covered talks on bilateral cooperation, developments in bilateral trade of farm products and the further expansion of trade and farm transactions. The meeting confirmed Russian interest in Greek farm products and noted that prospects were favourable for Greek farm certified products.

    [05] Gas pump cheating instances under scrutiny

    The "cheating at gas pumps" issue has turned into a feud between fuel sector trade unions in the country, following numerous reported incidents of deceived customers at petrol station, where pumps are allegedly doctored to show a higher quantity of pumped gas.

    The regional development ministry has announced that petrol station owners who are found guilty of cheating customers will be brought to justice.

    Meanwhile, the federation of gasoline retailers (OBE) on Tuesday supported the intensification of inspections by authorities to combat the phenomenon but, at the same time, criticised the stance adopted by the Federation of Petrol Station Owners (POPEK) against the installation of electronic monitoring systems on the pumps themselves.

    On its part, POPEK admitted on Monday that the incidents of deceived consumers at the gas pumps were on the rise and requested the intensification of inspections, while rejecting the allegations made against it by OBE by underlining that "the efforts for the protection of healthy competition should be continuous and not be limited to occasional inspections".

    [06] Opposition parties on gas prices, reforms, foreign policy

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday stressed that "the people want low petrol prices that can only be achieved through the drastic reduction of taxation and the establishment of a state-run energy authority".

    In an unrelated topic, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) President George Karatzaferis rejected any talk on a joint exploitation of the Aegean with Turkey and criticiszed the delays in defining an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

    Referring to "the so-called structural reforms and government actions, such as, the opening of the closed-off professions," he said that the government should show restraint.

    Referring to the fuel issue, Radical Left Coalition (Synaspismos) pointed out that "Greece has the highest petrol prices in the EU and rising", adding that "the problem has assumed dramatic dimensions for the lower incomes and the economy".

    The party suggested the adoption of a multi-level package of measures ensuring the substantive control of Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (ELPE), intensified inspections and lower taxation.

    [07] Outstanding tax obligations settlement deadline extended

    The ministry of finance gave a three-day extension until Dec. 31, 2010 to the deadline for the taxpayers wishing to accept the measure of the irrevocable settlement of outstanding tax obligations. The extension was given in an effort to facilitate those who have not received a relevant notice by the tax bureau.

    Based on official figures, roughly 891 million euros have been collected by Dec. 24, while the outstanding tax obligations confirmed amount roughly to 1.958 billion euros. A total of 522,000 taxpayers have chosen to accept the measure.

    [08] EBEA head: Danger of bankruptcy hasn't been averted

    "Unfortunately, despite the sacrifices, the danger of bankruptcy have not been averted," the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Indurstry (EBEA), Constantinos Mihalos, said on Tuesday, days before the new year.

    In his statement, Mihalos underlines that 2010 was characterised by a deep economic recession, which jeopardises the strength of Greek society, whereas 2011 will be a landmark year for an exit from the crisis.

    "In 2010 a great number of enterprises were forced to suspend operation or to move their operation abroad in order to survive. Many work positions were lost," he said.

    [09] OTE trade union issues strong response to DT official's statements

    The Federation of Telecommunication Workers (OME-OTE) trade union on Tuesday sharply criticised comments made a day earlier in the German-language edition of the "Financial Times" by Deutsche Telekom representative and Hellenic Telecommunications (OTE SA) non executive board member Guido Kerkhoff.

    OME-OTE president Panagiotis Koutras told ANA-MPA that Greece has laws and individual business labour contracts that regulate every issue concerning remuneration costs.

    In his comments in the FT, Kerkhoff maintains that there are still many structural problems in the fixed network sector in Greece that need to be resolved and that OTE wages should be cut considering that, on the average, are higher than the wages paid in the parent company Deutsche Telekom.

    According to Koutras, no comparison can be made between OTE and Deutsche Telekom because their operating structure is different and blamed the policy followed by the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) for the revenues lost by OTE.

    Koutras alleged that EETT does not allow the company to sell affordable and quality services to Greek consumers whereas its competitors are free to exploit OTE's infrastructure and violate market and labour laws.

    [10] Civil aviation union calls off strike

    Flights to and from Greece's regional airports will be carried out as scheduled on Dec. 29 and 30 following the cancellation of a 48-hour strike called by the civil aviation employees' union (OSYPA).

    The decision to cancel the strike followed a meeting on Tuesday with transport ministry officials, during which OSYPA representatives received assurances that a portion of their institutional demands will be met.

    The strike was declared illegal by an Athens first-instance court on Friday, after the Civil Aviation Authority filed suit.

    OSYPA, in response to the ruling on Friday, threatened that its members would resort to other forms of industrial actions in protest of the government's plans for the transfer of some 500 maintenance workers and pilots of former Olympic Airways.

    [11] Public transport means to operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday

    All public transport means in Athens will operate as normal on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the exception of the Tram that will operate throughout the entire day while employees will be holding a two-hour work stoppage from 12 midnight until 2 a.m. on Friday.

    On Friday, December 31 2010, on New Year's Eve, urban transport means will be gradually withdrawing from circulation as of 22:30.

    [12] Consumer group reports 5% increase in prices for basic goods

    The "basket of goods" bought by the average Greek household has increased 100,23 euros or roughly 5 percent over the last year, the Greek consumer group ELKEKA reported on Tuesday.

    Citing figures released by Greece's statistical authority, ELKEKA said the cost of these basic goods had increased from 2,020,52 euros in November 2009 to 2,120,75 euros in November 2010.

    The highest increases were in alcoholic drinks and tobacco products, which climbed 19 percent in the year, followed by transport costs that rose 16 percent and in housing which rose 6 percent.

    [13] Stocks end higher

    Greek stocks ended mildly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index rising 0.49 pct to end at 1,411.09 points. Turnover was a disappointing 49.623 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 0.70 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.08 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 1.68 pct up. OPAP (2.88 pct), Viohalco (2.56 pct) and National Bank (1.99 pct) were to gainers among blue chip stocks, while Titan (1.02 pct) and OTE (0.96 pct) were top losers.

    The Travel (2.80 pct) and Media (2.57 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (0.96 pct) and Personal Products (0.65 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 83 to 59 with another 69 issues unchanged. Altec (16.67 pct), Newsphone (14.71 pct) and Spider (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while PC Systems (13.33 pct), Naftemporiki (11.63 pct) and Unibios (11.11 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +0.48%

    Commercial: +1.66%

    Construction: -0.27%

    Media: +2.57%

    Oil & Gas: +0.70%

    Personal & Household: -0.65%

    Raw Materials: +0.25%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.80%

    Technology: +1.44%

    Telecoms: -0.96%

    Banks: +1.01%

    Food & Beverages: -0.62%

    Health: +1.95%

    Utilities: -0.52%

    Chemicals: +0.14%

    Financial Services: +0.71%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.90

    ATEbank: 0.69

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.97

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.74

    National Bank of Greece: 6.16

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.78

    OPAP: 12.86

    OTE: 6.21

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.66

    Titan: 15.60

    [14] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 943 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 927 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.39 pct and the German Bund 2.96 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 2.0 million euros which covered transactions on the 20-year benchmark bond.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.53 pct, the six-month rate 1.40 pct, the three-month rate 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.

    [15] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -3.22 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 20.968 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,667 contracts worth 18.193 million euros, with 5,667 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,070 contracts worth 2.775 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,950), followed by Eurobank (479), MIG (352), OTE (427), Piraeus Bank (871), Alpha Bank (671), Marfin Popular Bank (255) and Cyprus Bank (190).

    [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.330

    Pound sterling 0.860

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.068

    Japanese yen 109.07

    Swiss franc 1.261

    Norwegian kroner 7.888

    Canadian dollar 1.332

    Australian dollar 1.314

    General News

    [17] Renovated Pedio tou Areos park delivered to Athenians

    Upon conclusion of the institution of the Athens-Piraeus Supraprefecture, the biggest and most historic park in Athens, the Pedio tou Areos park, has been renovated and restructured under the directions of architect Alexandros Tombazis and offered to the inhabitants of Athens, on Tuesday. It is now comparable to the biggest parks abroad and is open and safe for all citizens.

    The park is in no way reminiscent of its past. A total of 1,200 trees have been planted, 50,000 plants, 7,500 bushes and 2,500 rose bushes, while 9,000 square metres of turf and eight stremmas of ground coverage plants have been added.

    Moreover, 22,650 square metres of asphalt have been removed from the old paths and earth was placed in its place and, in parallel, 8,800 square metres of marble stones and 3,800 square metres of granite stones have been placed.

    Apart from the environmental and visual aspect of the work, it is noteworthy that the temperature in the park in the summer months will be 3-5 degrees less than that of the city, a fact that will literally make it an oasis in the centre of Athens.

    "Upon conclusion of the tenure of the Supraprefecture, I am very pleased that a project that is a gem is being delivered to the Athenians. The biggest park in Athens renovated and restructured. We hope that the Athenians will experience it and enjoy it and protect it," said Dina Bei, Athens-Piraeus Supraprefect, during Tuesday's presentation of the park.

    [18] Athens Academy gives awards

    The Athens Academy held a special session on Tuesday with the offering of awards and commendations to people of literature, art and science.

    Among those given awards were authors Zyranna Zateli, Alki Zei, publisher Rahil Kapon, teacher Hara Nikopoulou, poet and publisher Antonis Fostieris.

    The session was attended, among others, by Interior Minister Yiannis Rangoussis, former deputies, academics, friends and relatives of those given awards and former president of the republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Weather Forecast

    [19] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -2C and 18C. Cloudy with light showers in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 12C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 1C to 8C.

    [20] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Changes in the taxation system, alleged discrepancies in the armed forces fund and fuel prices surge mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Sweeping changes in public sector after conclusion of civil servants' census".

    AVGHI: "Rotten policy with garbage".

    AVRIANI: "Foreign speculators' attack devastates economy".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Gas station owners accuse colleagues of profiteering".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "1 billion euros extra taxes for SMEs".

    ESTIA: "The clash with the guilds".

    ETHNOS: "Turmoil after revelation of dissolution of armed forces fund".

    IMERISSIA: "Athens Stock Exchange Market and spreads out of control".

    KATHIMERINI: "Civil servants' 'blind' transfers".

    LOGOS: "Legislations fever in government".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The changes in taxation from new year".

    NIKI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou threatening with early elections".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The new anti-social selection result of PASOK and main opposition New Democracy's (ND) policy".

    TA NEA: "Gas station owners cheating us".

    VRADYNI: "Storm over public sector and public utilities and organisations".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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