|Friday, 19 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 30 December 2010 Issue No: 3681
 PM addresses last Cabinet meeting for 2010"The government's goal for 2011 is to be the last year of recession, while 2012 will be the year when economic growth will be launched so that in 2013, everything that led us to the crisis will be left behind," Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined on Wednesday, speaking during the last Cabinet meeting of the year.
The premier stated that this was the 31st cabinet meeting since the beginning of the year and the 39th since he took office.
"This past year, the Greek people have been tested as never before," he said, adding that "no government and no politician would have wanted to handle such a national crisis but it was our duty and we have done it."
"If we hadn't done what we did, we wouldn't be able to prevent the country's bankruptcy and we would have been responsible for not doing everything in our power," he said.
"In 2010, we managed to withstand the biggest crisis Greeks ever went through in recent history and, at the same time, major reforms of historic importance were launched for the creation of a new Greece," he stressed.
"There was no other government in the past that produced more work in such a short period of time," he said and referred to the main initiatives undertaken by the government over the past year, adding that "no government was ever called in the past to implement its programme in such difficult and often asphyxiating circumstances."
Referring to 2011, Papandreou stressed that the priorities of his government include creating a state that will be in the service of the people, while ensuring a return to economic growth. He also referred to the rule of law, the welfare state and giving the country a strong voice in international fora.
 Reppas on creation of studies and project control authorityThe draft bill on the"amendment of the system for the preparation of studies, the carrying out of public works and the creation of an authority for the checking of studies and projects", was was prepared by the Infrastructures ministry and on which the relevant minister Dimitris Reppas briefed the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, enacts the creation of an authority on the checking of studies and work.
As Reppas said in his address, the Transport, Infrastructures and Networks ministry intends to assume in the near future a legislative initiative comprising three distinct parts. The first concerns the reforming of legislation on awarding and preparing studies, the second the reforming of legislation on awarding and carrying out public works and the third the founding of an authority for checking the procedures for the maturing, awarding and carrying out of contracts.
 Ministries urged to stick to budget provisionsDeputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis on Wednesday urged government ministries to strictly adhere to 2011 budget spending provisions aimed, primarily, at cutting the country's fiscal deficit to below 3.0 pct of GDP by 2014.
In a circular sent to cabinet ministries to outline the main axes for executing the new and closely watched 2011 budget, the minister underlined that "implementing the spending leg of the budget, according to provisions, was a crucial point of fiscal policy and a necessary precondition to achieving its goals."
He added that the budget plan did not allow for any overshooting of spending, and noted that any such cases would carry personal responsibilities.
Handout of funds will be made gradually and full payment will depend on the course of executing the budget, the circular said adding that cabinet ministries' needs would be reviewed on a quarterly basis.
 Citizen's Protection minister on Greek Rural PoliceThe Greek Rural Police will be abolished and its duties will be transferred to the Environment and Climatic Change ministry, while they will now be exercised by the local forestry services.
This is anticipated by the bill presented at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday by Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis.
The bill also anticipates the creation and functioning of a special service for the handling of cases of arbitrary behaviour with the perpetrators being members of the security services. Issues concerning seasonal firefighters are regulated with the bill, also in accordance with the announcement by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
 PM chairs meeting on Eurobond signatures collection issuePrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the coordination committee for the collection of at least one million signatures on a European level requsting the issuing of a Eurobond.
According to reports from a committee member, the effort is focused on this initiative taking on a European character and not being "narrowly" Greek or coming only from the socialists.
The same member also assessed that the rest of the Greek opposition parties could contribute on their part at a European level to this initiative, moving in the same way in the European "family" of parties to which they belong.
Papandreou also held a separate meeting with Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and Deputy Education Minister Yiannis Panaretos.
 Gov't dismisses reports claiming abolition of free textbook regimeAn education ministry announcement on Wednesday flatly refuted press articles claiming that the free distribution of school textbooks will be abolished. The ministry said school books will continue to be distributed for free and that the publishing process will continue to fall under the ministry's responsibility.
The announcement added that the responsible organisation in charge of the distribution will be integrated into another entity, which will be established and to support policy regarding digital education.
A ministry draft law, up for discussion on Wednesday by the Cabinet, foresees the merging of several organisations in order to save up to four billion euros per year in state spending.
 Headway in talks between ministry, pharmacistsHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos has reportedly reached an agreement with representatives of Athens pharmacists during a meeting to discuss issues concerning the "opening" of the profession, before a relevant health ministry-sponsored draft law is tabled in Parliament next month, it was announced on Wednesday.
Specifically, sector representatives agreed to the "opening" up of profession to new pharmacists and to co-ownership schemes in existing pharmacies, thus preventing any further increase of the already huge number of pharmacies. They also agreed that a scale system of rebates (money returned to insurance funds from the pharmacies) will be effective for sales above a 3,000-4,000-euro threshold.
The two sides reached no agreement on the issue of opening hours on Saturdays. However, they agreed that it will be settled within the next couple of weeks.
 ND spokesman on opening of closed professionsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos, commenting on Wednesday on "the contradictory statements by ministers, as well as the leaks from government offices on the issue of the closed professions", said that "the prime minister does not have the right to play communication games on the backs of hundreds of thousands of professionals, threatening to blow into the air the programming of their life, which they have made, decades ago."
Panayiotopoulos added that "before any legislative arrangement on the closed professions, Mr. Papandreou, as ND president Antonis Samaras has already called on him, must himself make a direct dialogue with every branch and every professional category separately."
 Interior ministry draft law on e-governanceA draft law on e-governance aimed at "regulating e-communication and transactions with public sector agencies in a comprehensive and fine-tuned manner" was unveiled by Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The minister stated that the proposed draft law seeks the creation of preconditions for the establishment of communication and transactions between public sector agencies, citizens and businesses through the use of information and communications technologies (ICT).
 New Athens mayor George Kaminis sworn inNewly-elected Athens mayor George Kaminis and the 148 municipal councillors were sworn in on Wednesday in the presence of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos.
Addressing the municipal councillors, Kaminis called for the rallying of the municipal groupings, agencies and citizens to enable Athens to overcome the severe crisis it is experiencing.
"I am fully aware of the responsibility that we are undertaking today and of the expectations that our effort has fuelled. I am fully aware of the difficulties that we shall be facing in this undertaking. The municipal authority that is assuming its duties today is the first municipal authority that is being called on to run Athens in conditions of a great crisis that is changing the economic, social and intellectual life of our society. A crisis of viability, as an ultimate conclusion," Kaminis said.
 US ambassador tours Panathinaiko StadiumUS ambassador to Greece Daniel Bennett Smith, accompanied by his wife and two children, on Wednesday visited Athens' Panathinaiko (Panathenian) Stadium in downtown Athens.
The US envoy, who was welcomed by Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) President Spyros Kapralos, signed a book of visitors, referring to the monument's significance.
The venue hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and hosted the archery competition for the 2004 Athens Games, while it was also the finishing line for the men's and women's marathon in 2004.
The stadium is also known as the Kallimarmaro (Greek for "beautifully marbled") and is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble.
 Gov't expects market turbulence to continue in JanuaryThe Greek government expects turbulence in international markets in January, while government officials said they did not expect any attacks on the Greek economy. The same sources said they were confident that an extension of the Greek loans' repayment will be agreed, although they underlined that the Greek problem would not cease to exist as long as a general solution was not reached in the Eurozone.
Government sources said a prevailing turbulence in the Eurozone would keep spreads at current high levels and noted that skepticism was dominant in the Eurozone over the issue.
The same sources said that the government would present a draft legislation on opening up closed professions in mid-January, saying that the troika has set the framework of opening up closed professions, while the Greek government was negotiating the terms of this process.
 European Commission on planned Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines mergerThe European Commission "is bound that the outcome of the investigation that it is carrying out on the planned merger between Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, and which is expected to be announced in January 2011, will not be at the expense of consumers and the enterprises," while "if problems are detected in the auction, then the Commission will secure that the sides will face them with the assumption of suitable commitments."
This was stated, among other things, by European Commission vice president and responsible Commissioner for Competition Policy Joaquin Almunia, in reply to a question tabled by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Eurodeputies Costas Poupakis and George Koumoutsakos on the occasion of scepticism expressed on the possibility of monopolistic conditions being created in air transport in Greece.
 Gov't promises fast-track tourism investments, amid negative WSJ articleDeputy Minister of Culture & Tourism Giorgos Nikitiadis on Wednesday issued a response to a same-day Wall Street Journal article entitled "Golf in Greece: A Byzantine Ordeal", which referred to the red tape plaguing tourism investments in the country.
Nikitiadis told ANA-MPA that the article "is not unfounded and most of what is mentioned is true. However, they concern a Greece that is changing. Major upsets are taking place in Greece, among them, the adoption of laws that help to accelerate investments."
Referring specifically to the sector of golf courses and resorts, the focus of the respected US daily's article, Nikitiadis stressed that his ministry has already gathered the necessary information and that a meeting with competent authorities able to assist in the sector's development will be held soon.
He also referred to initiatives undertaken for the promotion of tourism and other investments, focusing on the Fast Track Investment law that will allow long-delayed investments to be completed in a very short period of time.
 Public sector enterprises' payroll costs down 15% in Jan-SepPayroll spending by Greece's 52 public sector enterprises was down 15 pct, or 143.4 million euros, in the January-September period this year, compared with the same period in 2009, with the government expecting to save around 220 million euros for the year, a finance ministry announcement stated on Wednesday.
Total payroll was 812.3 million euros in the nine-month period, down from 955.7 million euros in 2009, reflecting a cost-cutting policy implemented for public sector enterprises.
The finance ministry also said that loss-making public sector enterprises, set for restructuring, reported an 11-pct cut in the payroll of the Athens (green) bus service organisation (EThEL), a 17-pct decline in Trainose (the rail line operator), a 16-pct drop in the Athens-Piraeus electric train line (ISAP), a 16-pct decline in Hellenic Defence Systems, a 15-pct decline in Athens area trolley-bus operator (HLPAP), a 17-pct drop in the greater Athens (blue) bus operator (OASA), a 23-pct decline in Hellenic Railways and a 14-pct decline in Gaiaose, the rail operator's construction arm.
The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) topped the list of average payroll costs (38,447 euros), followed by ISAP (35,111 euros), DE.PANOM (33,104 euros) and Trainose (31,198 euros).
EOMMEX (15,737 euros), the Greek Festival (formerly Athens festival) (15,805 euros) and Gaiaose (19,272 euros) recorded the lowest payroll costs.
OASA (2.83 billion euros), EThEL (1.83 billion), Hellenic Defence Systems (1.06 billion), Trainose (683.78 million), ?SAP (643.12 million) and HLPAP (367.13 million) recorded the highest liabilities for the nine-month period.
 Greek PPI up 5.9% in Nov.Greece's Producers' Price Index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew 5.9 pct in November this year, compared with the same month in 2009, after an increase of 1.0 pct recorded in November 2009, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Wednesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said this increase could cause further inflationary pressures if rolled over to consumption and attributed the 5.9 pct rise of the index to a 5.4 pct increase in the domestic market index and a 7.8 pct rise in the external market index.
The producers' price index was up 1.3 pct in November from October after an increase of 0.4 pct recorded in the corresponding period last year.
 Hotels prices in winter resorts reportedly ease this seasonHotels in popular winter resort destinations around Greece have reportedly lowered rates this holiday season compared to last year's prices.
In the mountainous village of Arachova, located on the southern slopes of the Parnassus mountain range, local hotel owners have reduced prices between 15 and 30 pct despite the fact that reservations are already as high as 90 pct, the president of the Arachova hotel owners' association told the ANA-MPA. Expectedly, even lower prices, down by up 50 pct, are offered to travelers who choose to visit the region after Jan. 9, following the end of the holidays.
In the central and mountainous region of Evritania, hotel rates dropped 20 pct compared to last year, according to the local hotel owners' association, while occupancy rates are satisfactory. Lower prices are also available in hotels on Mt Pilio in the prefecture of Magnesia, the local association said.
 Athens metro strike on New Year's DayUnions representing Athens metro and electric railway (ISAP) employees have called a strike on New Year's Day to protest a government-sponsored law on public transports.
 Stocks end 1.21% higherStocks ended significantly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, although turnover remained at very low levels ahead of the New Year holidays.
The composite index of the market rose 1.21 pct to end at 1,428.15 points, with turnover at 38.146 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 1.21 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.28 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 1.46 pct higher.
ATEbank (7.25 pct), Hellenic Postbank (3.10 pct), Eurobank (2.91 pct), Titan (2.82 pct) and Mytilineos (2.11 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Marfin Popular Bank (2.75 pct) and PPC (0.64 pct) ended lower.
The Chemicals (1.49 pct) and Utilities (0.63 pct) sectors suffered losses while Media (3.81 pct) and Insurance (3.07 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 102 to 52 with another 56 issues unchanged. Unibios (12.5 pct), Epilektos (9.38 pct) and Nikas (9.17 pct) were top gainers, while AEGEK (12 pct), Allatini Ceramics (11.54 pct) and Hatzikraniotis (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.60%
Personal & Household: +0.22%
Raw Materials: +2.13%
Travel & Leisure: +0.75%
Food & Beverages: +2.31%
Financial Services: +1.04%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.98
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.90
HBC Coca Cola: 19.45
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.79
National Bank of Greece: 6.22
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.89
Bank of Piraeus: 3.65
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.28 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover a low 13.400 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,177 contracts worth 10.351 million euros, with 28,311 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,557 contracts worth 3.049 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,510), followed by Eurobank (595), OTE (1,185), Piraeus Bank (725), Alpha Bank (303), Marfin Popular Bank (192), Cyprus Bank (794) and ATEbank (109).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.324
Pound sterling 0.860
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.060
Japanese yen 108.85
Swiss franc 1.258
Norwegian kroner 7.871
Canadian dollar 1.326
Australian dollar 1.307
 Dozens of illegals intercepted aboard 3 Italy-bound trucks at port of PatrasDozens of illegal immigrants were detected aboard two Italy-bound trucks at the port of Patras on Wednesday morning following routine inspections by coast guard officers.
A total of 62 would-be migrants, all from Third World countries, were found inside two specially modified tankers. Of the group, two were women and 22 were identified as minors.
Following a prosecutor's order, the minors and the women - viewed as guardians of minors - were released, while the rest of the illegals and the driver of the vehicle hauling the tankers were arrested.
Another 20 illegals, including four minors, were intercepted aboard another truck at the same port -- which serves as Greece's gateway towards western Europe and where thousands of illegal immigrants that enter the country from Turkey congregate in the hope of boarding a ferry boat for Italy.
 Cocaine seized at port of PatrasPatras port authorities on Wednesday confiscated more than three kilos of cocaine hidden aboard a truck which had arrived by ferry boat from Italy.
A tip-off reportedly led to the seizure.
The narcotics were divided in packets and hidden behind the cabin's tapestry. Additionally, three precision scales were found in the vehicle.
The 35-year-old lorry driver was arrested at the scene.
 Major heroin bust in ThessalonikiA 45-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in the Thessaloniki district of Ano Ilioupoli on major drug dealing charges.
A police raid at the suspect's residence and at a warehouse allegedly revealed, amongst others, 920 grams of heroin, 719 grams of cannabis, 760 grams of methadone.
 2 foreign nationals arrested with cache of 'coloured' banknotes?wo Bulgarian nationals were arrested in Thessaloniki on Wednesday on robbery and aggravated money laundering charges.
According to police, more than 2,000 euros soaked in a special coloured substance to cover the banknotes' characteristics were found on the two suspects' possession.
The colouring substance is widely used abroad by money delivery firms and banks in case of robberies or burglaries, making the banknotes stand out and unacceptable for direct transactions.
The two suspects, both 26, are accused of receiving the colour-soaked banknotes from accomplices outside the country in order use them in automated cash-accepting machines, picking up merchandise and the change in the process.
 New metro station opens on Thurs.The new Aghia Paraskevi metro station will be delivered on Thursday to the public. The station, the 30th underground metro station in the greater Athens, has three underground levels, two entrances and exits and can facilitate 20,000 passengers daily.
The distance to the downtown Athens Syntagma square station will be covered in 13 minutes.
 Young wolf killed by carA two-and-a-half-year-old female wolf was killed on the Amynteo- Florina highway, extreme NW Greece, last Sunday, conservationists in the area said.
According to the Arcturos NGO, the incident marks the eighth time a dead wolf has been reported in 2010 due to human intervention --four traffic deaths and four shootings or poisonings.
The wolf is a protected species throughouth Europe by law. In Greece it was officially recognised as a "vunerable" species in 1991.
 Adrift freighter towed to port?he freighter "Aghios Georgios", left adrift in the sea region between the central Aegean island of Skyros and the port town of Kymi in Evia, was towed safely to Skyros on Wednesday. The 10-member crew is safe.
Port authorities have forbidden its departure until an engine problem is repaired.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 18C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 13C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 0C to 8C.
 The Wednesday editions of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe scheduled abolition of an education-sector organisation, hikes in power rates and reactions to the opening of so-called "closed professions" mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: '4,500 state, municipal enterprises mergers from beginning of New Year".
AVGHI: "Schools without schoolbooks!"
AVRIANI: "Fuel, VAT and PPC rates hikes ... while salaries are chopped".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "OECD becomes a supervisor (of Greece) as well".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Free school books to the pyre".
ESTIA: "Optimism, under certain conditions".
ETHNOS: "Gifts for the few, burdens for the many".
IMERISSIA: "Industry, households in 'energy vise'."
KATHIMERINI: "Pleas for eurozone's rescue".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Which markets will have best performances in 2011".
NIKI: "Amateur apprentice magicians (Government)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Burning PPC rate hikes".
TA NEA: "Bargaining over closed professions".
VRADYNI: "Born ... in debt".
 President: Davudoglu's remarks not justifiedNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said on Wednesday that Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Davudoglu was not justified to be so cynical and arrogant in saying that the Republic of Cyprus' agreement with Israel for the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone was void.
Commenting on remarks by Davudoglu, President Christofias said that, ''according to international law, the presence of the Turkish army in Cyprus is void and illegal'' and that the Turkish Minister was justified neither by the UN charter nor international law.
''The Republic of Cyprus is an independent and sovereign state and it exercises its rights and sovereign duties with the signing of various agreements, which emanate from international law and the Law of the Sea,'' he said.
He added that ''the Republic of Cyprus has signed this Treaty and unfortunately Turkey has not signed it, so those breaking the law are Mr. Davudoglu and his country.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 House President calls for pressure on TurkeyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian has sent letters to counterparts and Presidents of international bodies, calling them to exert their influence on Turkey to restore the rights of Greek Cypriots enclaved in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.
The letter was sent to the Presidents of national parliaments of EU member states, the President of the European Parliament, the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, the Presidents of the Political Groups of the European Parliament, and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Garoyian says in his letter that on December 25 the Christmas liturgy in the Turkish occupied villages of Rizokarpaso and Ayia Triada were interrupted by the Turkish troops, which also harassed the priest and the congregation, despite the permission that had been obtained in advance for the liturgy.
He explains that very few Greek Cypriots still live in the Turkish occupied areas and bear ''continuous and daily harassment and violation of their fundamental human rights.''
''All this is part of a systematic policy of national cleansing, which Turkey has been implementing in Cyprus since 1974,'' Garoyian says, adding that ''the events are also indicative of the absence of will on behalf of the Turkish side to implement any agreement, and also proof that its commitments in relation to international and European law are just words.''
Garoyian notes that ''this is the reason I call on you to exert all your influence on Turkey, which is a candidate country for accession to the EU, so that Turkey will restore the general rights of the enclaved Greek Cypriots living in the occupied part of Cyprus and especially the fundamental human rights for the unhindered exercise of their rights to religion and worship.''
He says that ''at the same time, due to these sad events, I feel obliged to underline that, if Turkey wishes to join the EU, then the Turkish government, which is responsible for the actions of the occupation regime in Cyprus, must meet in practice the values on which the EU is based.''
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been engaged in UN-led direct talks since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
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