|Friday, 18 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-04-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 27 April 2011 Issue No: 3773
 Finance ministry: All necessary measures will be taken to achieve economic program targetsThe Greek government remains dedicated to the targets of its Economic Policy Program and will take all the necessary measures to achieve them, the finance ministry said on Tuesday after an upward revision of the country's fiscal (government) deficit for 2010 to 10.5 percent of GDP from an initial forecast of 9.4 percent, which it attributed mainly to an anticipated repercussion of recession and shortfall in tax revenues.
In an announcement, the finance ministry said the divergence between Eurostat's revised figure (10.5 percent) and the initial forecast contained in the 2011 state budget (9.4 percent) for the 2010 general government deficit was due chiefly to a larger than anticipated effect of reception on GDP in 2010 and decline in tax revenues.
The ministry noted that the entirety of the fiscal data was being monitored in the context of the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), the General State Accounts Office's treasury and budget general directorate and the Bank of Greece (BoG, the country's central bank). In the context of the same procedure, ELSTAT calculates the general government deficit with the European Accounting System (ESA 95) and forwards the final figures to Eurostat for inspection and release, it explained, adding that two reports (provisional and final figures) are forwarded annually to Eurostat.
The ministry also pointed out that following a series of institutional interventions by the government, chiefly the rendering of ELSTAT as an independent authority, Eurostat no longer has reservations on the Greek statistics.
The ministry further said that ELSTAT has conveyed to Eurostat the first report (provisional figures), which puts the 2010 general deficit at 10.5 percent of GDP.
According to the Eurostat report for the entire European Union released on Tuesday in Brussels, the ministry continued, Greece has the second largest deficit in the EU after Ireland (32.4 percent of GDP), and was very close to that of the UK (10.4 percent, the third highest deficit), followed by Spain (9.2 percent) and Portugal (9.1).
Greece, however, also achieved the biggest deficit reduction ever in a Euro Area country in a single year (10.5 percent of GDP from 15.6 percent in 2009).
Regarding the government (state) debt, Greece had the highest figure in the EU (142.8 percent of GDP), followed by Italy (119 percent), Belgium (96.8 percent) and Ireland (96.2 percent), the ministry said, citing the Eurostat figures.
According to the ministry, the divergence (overshooting) of the 2011 budget forecast for the 2010 government deficit is due mainly to the following reasons: a) A larger than anticipated effect of the recession on GDP in 2010. b) A shortfall in tax revenues (0.6 percent of GDP) resulting from a larger than predicted -- at the time of the drafting of the 2011 budget -- recession in the fourth quarter of 2010. c) A worsening of the Local Governments (OTA) balance (0.25 percent of GDP), which is linked with payment of past obligations at the end of the year. d) A worsening of the financial results of the Social Security Organisations (OKA, 0.5 percent of GDP), and a bigger than anticipated increase in unemployment that resulted in a reduction in social security contributions. e) A worsening of the financial results of the state hospitals (0.3 percent of GDP).
On the other hand, the ministry said, there was an improvement in the balance of the re-classified DEKO (public utilities ands state organisations, 0.35 percent of GDP) and in the adjustment of interest rates effected (0.3 percent of GDP).
Consequently, the ministry said, it is obvious that the divergence was chiefly the result of the deeper than anticipated recession in the Greek economy, which affects tax revenues but also social security contributions.
In any event, the Greek government remains dedicated to the targets of the Economic Policy Program and intends to take all the necessary measures for their achievement, the finance ministry announcement concluded.
 Eurostat: Greek fiscal deficit at 10.5pct in 2010Greece's fiscal deficit in 2010 was revised upwards to 10.5 percent of GDP, overshooting initial forecasts of 9.4 percent, although down substantially from 15.6 percent in 2009, while the government debt rose to 142.8 percent of GDP from 127.1 percent of GDP in 2009, according to figures released by Eurostat on Tuesday in Brussels.
The Greek deficit figure was revised upwards from initial forecasts of 9.4 percent of GDP contained in the prologue to the 2011 state budget.
In absolute numbers, the fiscal (government) deficit reached 24.1 billion euros in 2010 from 36.3 billion euros in 2009, while Greece's GDP fell to 39.1 billion euros in 2010 from 37.3 billion euros in 2009, and government expenditure declined to 49.5 billion in 2010 from 52.9 billion euros in 2009.
The Greek government debt rose to 328 billion euros in 2010 from 298.7 billion euros in 2009. Greece posted the second highest fiscal deficit in the EU after Ireland (32.4 percent of GDP) and the highest government debt among the EU 27.
In its announcement, the EU executive's statistics service posed no reservations on the quality of data reported by Greece, but did express reservations on the data from the UK and Romania.
Along general lines, in 2010, the government deficit of both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 decreased compared with 2009, while the government debt and GDP increased. In the euro area the government deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 6.3% in 20093 to 6.0% in 2010, and in the EU27 from 6.8% to 6.4%. In the euro area the government debt to GDP ratio increased from 79.3% at the end of 2009 to 85.1% at the end of 2010, and in the EU27 from 74.4% to 80.0%.
In 2010 the largest government deficits in percentage of GDP were recorded in Ireland (-32.4%), Greece (-10.5%), the United Kingdom (-10.4%), Spain (-9.2%), Portugal (-9.1%), Poland (-7.9%), Slovakia (-7.9%), Latvia (-7.7%), Lithuania (-7.1%) and France (-7.0%). The lowest deficits were recorded in Luxembourg (-1.7%), Finland (-2.5%) and Denmark (-2.7%). Estonia (0.1%) registered a slight government surplus in 2010 and Sweden (0.0%) was in balance. In all, 21 Member States recorded an improvement in their government balance relative to GDP in 2010 compared with 2009 and six a worsening.
At the end of 2010, the lowest ratios of government debt to GDP were recorded in Estonia (6.6%), Bulgaria (16.2%), Luxembourg (18.4%), Romania (30.8%), Slovenia (38.0%), Lithuania (38.2%), the Czech Republic (38.5%) and Sweden (39.8%). Fourteen Member States had government debt ratios higher than 60% of GDP in 2010: Greece (142.8%), Italy (119.0%), Belgium (96.8%), Ireland (96.2%), Portugal (93.0%), Germany (83.2%), France (81.7%), Hungary (80.2%), the United Kingdom (80.0%), Austria (72.3%), Malta (68.0%), the Netherlands (62.7%), Cyprus (60.8%) and Spain (60.1%).
 EU Commission: Upward revision of Greek deficit due to changed Eurostat rulesAmadeu Altafaj, the spokesman for European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, on Tuesday said that the upward revision of Greece's deficit for 2010 was the result of a change in Eurostat's rules for calculating member-state public deficit figures.
Pointing to similar upward revisions for several eurozone countries, Altafaj also noted that for the first time after many years Eurostat had last November and then again on Tuesday confirmed the figures given by the Greek statistical authority.
Asked how the increase in the public deficit figure would affect Greece's fiscal policy for 2011, Altafaj said that this would be addressed in the spring economic forecasts released by the European Commission in May.
He underlined the Commission's absolute confidence in the Greek government's determination to implement the "ambitious" and "balanced" economic programme presented on April 15, in which the Greek government pledged spending cuts amounting to three billion euro during 2011 and 26 billion euro by 2015, combined with a 50 billion euro privatisation programme.
The spokesman was fairly optimistic concerning the impact of the programme and said that the social cost for Greece would have been much greater if the measures had not been taken.
Altafaj noted that the programme had already had an immediate positive impact on a social level, such as by reducing prices for medication, and was expected to increase the competitiveness of the Greek economy in the medium term, with the latest Eurostat figures pointing to a gradual levelling-off in the Greek recession.
Finally, he denied any plans by Rehn to visit Athens in the coming weeks.
 Van Rompuy: Greek debt sustainableThe opinion that Greece's public debt is sustainable and should not be restructured was repeated by European Council President Herman van Rompuy in an interview published by the Belgian newspaper "De Standaard" on Tuesday.
According to the former Belgian premier, a restructuring of Greek debt was not inevitable and he criticised "impatient" economic pundits for rushing to predict the country's failure and not giving enough time for measures to kick in, noting that Belgium had been given seven years to tame a deficit of 7.5 percent in the 90s and Sweden eight years to tackle its own deficit problems in the late 80s and early 90s.
He voiced the opinion that Greece's debt would be "tolerable" if the country were given enough time to deal with it and stressed that Greeks were not letting things take their course but were pushing through major reforms that included a 50 billion euro privatisation plan that he described as "gigantic" for such a small country.
According to Van Rompuy, the benefits of restructuring would not offset its disadvantages while he said the severity and rapid pace of the reforms was unavoidable, despite the blow to consumer sentiment, in order to restore the blow to market confidence inflicted by revelations that Greek statistics had been 'doctored'.
He also pointed out that the loans to Greece were not a case of European solidarity, stressing that they were not gifts and that tax-payers would actually gain as a result, since the interest on the loans to Greece was higher than the interest they paid on loans to create the European financial support fund.
 Gov't: ND criticism on deficit is not credible; ND statements"Any statements and criticism, on behalf of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party as regards the deficit, are not credible" because ND "is accountable for its unprecedented actions," government spokesman George Petalotis said on Tuesday.
Petalotis commented on statements made by alternate ND economy sector heads Christos Staikouras and Notis Mitarakis on the 2010 fiscal figures.
"The Greek people will not forget easily that in 2009 the then ND government budget predicted a 2 pct deficit, while in September, just before the elections, it was estimated at 6 pct to finally reach 15.4 pct. Speaking in plain language, the deficit was miscalculated by 30 billion euros," he stressed.
Petalotis stated that "the current government achieved the largest deficit reduction in the EU for 2010. The 5 pct reduction in one year is unprecedented for Greece and every other Eurozone country. This was achieved in circumstances of economic recession and in an absolutely transparent manner. The Eurostat announcement showed a deviation in a completely fluid environment characterized by major problems in cutting public sector expenditures while facing difficulties in collecting revenues and social insurance fund contributions."
Petalotis accused ND of "undermining the national effort", adding that ND leader Antonis Samaras "continues to engage in opposition founded on unproductive criticism, while systematically questioning the achievements and sacrifices made by the Greek people."
Earlier, ND's alternate economy sector head Christos Staikouras had accused the government of "failing to meet its goals both as regards the debt and the deficit", commenting on the 2010 fiscal figures released according to which, deficit was 10.5 pct of the GDP.
"The deviations recorded will lead to the adoption of new supplementary measures estimated to earn roughly 2.5 billion euros to close the new 'hole' in the deficit," Staikouras stated, underlining that "the government's economic policy is without prospect and a change of policy is imperative".
Alternative economic sector head Notis Mitarakis underlined that "economic growth and social cohesion are prerequisites in the effort to reform public finances", adding that "the memorandum signed was proved to be ineffective leading to skyrocketing unemployment and more enterprises going out of business as foreseen by ND".
 LA.O.S president Karatzaferis on the political situationOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday characterized the "current situation" as "sad" and "tragic", stressing that the government ministers are "alienated from each other".
Referring to developments concerning the economy, LA.O.S spokesman Kostas Aivaliotis maintained that "the troika-dictated economic policy followed by the government leads to disaster".
 SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for Parliament debate on nuclear powerThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday called for a discussion in Parliament on the dangers of nuclear power, in a letter sent to Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos.
Pointing out that the 25th anniversary of the devastating nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1986 had coincided with a fresh major nuclear disaster in Japan following the accident at Fukushima, Tsipras expressed grave concern about the overall safety of nuclear power plants.
He said that both military and peace-time uses of nuclear technology were now seriously questioned and the positions of anti-nuclear movements greatly strengthened. Tsipras further noted serious concerns among Greeks at planned nuclear power plants in the surrounding region, in areas with high earthquake activity and a history of constant tension where the proliferation of nuclear weapons was a serious concern.
Stressing that a Greek commitment to not construct nuclear power plants on its territory was mandatory but not enough, SYRIZA's Parliamentary group leader called for Greek initiatives to eradicate the nuclear threat through nuclear-free zones in the Balkans, Middle East and the Mediterranean.
 Tsipras on Greece-fYRoM relationsSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group president Alexis Tsipras, speaking in an interview with Skopje's private television channel "Kanal 5", expressed the view that nothing will change in relations between Skopje and Athens with a pending decision of the International Court at the Hague -whatever it may be- regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (fYRoM) appeal against Greece.
"We do not expect this decision to solve the real problem. Even if it is considered that the refusal on the part of Greece for fYRoM to join NATO was wrong, will the problem be solved? The problem will not be solved, bigger problems will be created," Tsipras said.
Tsipras stressed that the Coalition (Synaspismos) was among the first parties in Greece that spoke of the need for the name of the neighbouring country not constituting the major problem in relations between the two countries.
Tsipras also said that his party is opposed to fYRnM's accession to NATO but not because it desires the isolation of this country, but because it considers it a mistaken option.
 Coral-fishing and protection measures discussed in ParliamentMaritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Ioannis Diamantidis on Tuesday confirmed in Parliament that the fishing of red coral has been permitted in the seas of the southeast Aegean, with four licences covering the years 2011 until 2015.
Replying to a question tabled by independent MPs Athanasios Leventis, Nikolaos Tsoukalis and Grigoris Psarianos, Diamantidis said that a ministerial decree had been published in the government gazette on February 11 and that the process for the issuing licences was now underway.
The three MPs had asked that the fishing licences be withdrawn in order to conduct an official survey of the coral population in Greek waters. They pointed out that 88 of 200 species of coral populating the Mediterranean are found in Greek seas. Among others, they include commercially valuable varieties, such as the red coral or the rare and more expensive black coral.
They deplored a lack of protection of coral reefs in Greek waters and denounced the destruction of coral reefs in the Gulf of Corinth near Patras and the town of Aigio, which have been buried under rubble dumped into the sea by contractors building the new Athens-Patras national highway.
They also noted that the percentage of coral-populated Greek waters that enjoy any level of protection under the law is very low, making corals vulnerable to activities generating pollutants or causing mechanical disturbance of the sea bed, such as drag nets, anchors and dumping.
Diamantidis explained in his reply that coral fishing licences are issued for a maximum of five years, which can be reduced if the density of corals is deemed dangerously low. This is followed by a 25-year ban on all coral-fishing in the same region in order to allow recovery of stocks. Extraction of corals using any form of dragging tools is banned and the licence is given for fishing by divers using hand-held tools.
Coral-fishing boats are also obliged to record the quantities collected and to map reserves, informing the local coast guard which sends the information to the maritime affairs ministry.
There has been no official coral fishing since 2005, partly due to delays in issuing licences and partly due to the inability of coral fishing craft to organise and activate licences issued.
The minister agreed on the need to record and map coral populations and informed the MPs that the environment ministry and the Greek Centre for Marine Studies had already prepared studies that would lead to the establishment of new NATURA 2000 zones to protect corals.
 Dep. environment minister visits OsloDeputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis will depart on Wednesday for Oslo following an invitation by his counterpart Norway's Petroleum and Energy Ministry State Secretary Per Rune Henriksen.
The visit will focus on energy issues with an emphasis on petroleum and natural gas exploration and exploitation.
The deputy minister will meet with STAT OIL energy company representatives, as well as with executives of the two largest companies in Norway, Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) and TGS-Nopec Geophysical Company, specializing in hydrocarbon exploration.
Maniatis will return to Athens on April 30.
 EBEA president strongly criticises gov't economic policyAthens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Constantine Mihalos on Tuesday stressed that the policy implemented in Greece to lead the country out of the crisis is "ineffective and offers no prospect for the future".
In response to the 2010 fiscal deficit figures released by Eurostat, Mihalos pointed out that "the erroneous policy mix followed by the government leads to the deterioration of fiscal figures, persisting inflation, closure of enterprises, smaller incomes, increased unemployment and dissolution of social cohesion."
Mihalos stressed that the government should cast aside the ineffective negotiations with Greece's creditors and take action based on the real needs of the Greek economy and society.
 Greek banks borrowed less from ECB in January, central bank reportsThe dependence of Greek banks on the European Central Bank was lessened in January, according to figures released by the Bank of Greece on Tuesday. These showed that sums borrowed by Greek banks from the ECB fell to 94.4 billion euro in January 2011, from 97.7 billion euro in December 2010.
 Trade deficit 29.7% downGreece's balance of trade deficit, not calculating fuels, fell by 29.7 percent in February 2011 and came to 1,463 million euros from 2,082 million euro in February 2010, according to figures released on Tuesday by Greece's independent statistical authority ELSTAT.
For the two-month January-February 2011 period, the trade deficit declined 34.1 percent and came to 2,781 million euro, down from 4,218 million euro in the same period last year.
The decline of the trade deficit in February was the result of a 14.8 percent drop in imports-arrivals and a 15.38 percent increase in exports-dispatches. Over the two months, the decline in imports was 17 percent while the increase in exports, not counting fuels, was 20.2 percent.
 Power consumption up in MarchElectric power consumption was up for a second consecutive month in March, the Hellenic Transmission System Operator (HTSO) announced on Tuesday. The increase was mainly a result of increased demand by major industries powered by the the Public Power Corp. SA (PPC SA) high-voltage grid. Consumption by small and medium-sized enterprises, households and other consumers was marginally reduced.
HTSO announced that overall electricity demand increased 2.98 pct in March compared with last year, while in the first quarter demand was increased 1.4 pct. In the same period (Jan.-March) the major industries raised their electricity demand 12.36 pct, while Greek households and other enterprises cut demand by 0.74 pct.
Electricity production from natural gas was up 63 pct and from lignite up 12 pct, whereas electricity production from oil-burning plants was down 99.7 pct (virtually dropping to zero). Electricity production from hydroelectric power dropped 60 pct compared to last year due to reduced water reserves.
Greece continued to have an overall electric power deficit, exporting power to Albania and Italy and importing from Turkey, Bulgaria and fYRoM.
 Easter market turnover down 15 percentThe turnover of the Easter market posted a 15 percent reduction this year against 2009, according to estimates by the National Confederation of Greek Trade (ESEE).
The 15 percent decline in shops' turnover during the Easter season was the hardest felt in clothing and footwear, household goods, but also food products.
Regarding retail sales during this year's holiday period, initial data compiled by ESEE's Commerce and Services Institute indicate an average reduction of the Easter turnover of 15 percent compared with the same period last year, which had also posted a 7 percent reduction against 2008.
Turnover in the foods branch fell by 11 percent, compared with a 5.5 percent decline last year, and household goods dropped a further 20 percent from a 13 percent decline last year.
The heaviest decline was clothing and footwear, which slumped 25 percent this year against an 11 percent drop in 2009, with the only exception in children's clothing and footwear, which posted a 15 percent decline.
Finally, gift items and traditional items -- such as Easter candles and toys -- posted a smaller decline of 10 percent, compared with the same period last year.
 Dockworkers to hold 24-hour May Day strikePeople planning to travel by sea on Sunday May 1 are expected to face problems since dockworkers will be holding a 24-hour strike and work stoppage for the May Day Labour celebration.
Unions have decided to participate with a 24-hour strike from 12 midnight on Saturday until 12 midnight on Sunday. The dockworkers are expected to hold an initial strike gathering in Karaiskaki Square in Piraeus at 5:30 in the morning.
 Stocks 0.40 pct downStocks continued to fall during a lacklustre session on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, the first session following the Easter break. The composite index of the market dropped 0.40 percent to end at 1.425,57 points, well below the 1,500 level, with turnover at 41.806 million euro.
The Big Cap index dropped 0.45 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.37 pct down and the Small Cap index rose by 0.33 pct.
The biggest gains among sector indices were in Insurance (1.72 percent), Commerce (1.49 percent) and Telecommunications (1.01 percent). The heaviest percentage losses were in Health (4.10 percent), Industrial Products (2.06 percent) and Travel (1.36 percent).
Ellaktro (2.01 pct), OTE (1.01 pct) and Eurobank (0.88 pct) were top ganers among blue chip stocks, while Viohalko (3.62 pct), ATEBank (2.13 pct) and Jumbo (2.88 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 63 to 58 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Epilektos (10.00 pct), G.E. Dimitriou (9.09 pct) and Imperio (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Kerameia Allatini (18.75 pct), ANEK preferred registered '96 (10.00 pct) and Sato (9.09 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.16%
Personal & Household: -0.78%
Raw Materials: -0.37%
Travel & Leisure: -1.36%
Food & Beverages: -0.30%
Financial Services: -0.88%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Coca Cola 3E, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.65
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.01
HBC Coca Cola: 18.91
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.19
National Bank of Greece: 5.33
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.45
Bank of Piraeus: 1.09
 Greek bond spread widensGreek 10-year bond yields fell to a new record low on Tuesday, while the spread between the Greek bond and the Greek benchmark bonds widened, after statements by German chancellor Angela Merkel's financial advisor Lars Feld on Bloomberg television on the prospect of a restructuring of the Greek debt spurred strong pressures on the domestic and the Portuguese bond markets.
Feld voiced doubts as to whether Greece will succeed in completing its fiscal adjustment.
The yield of Greece's 10-year bond neared 15.06 percent, with the spread widening to 11.81 percent (1181 bps).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe 10-year Greek benchmark bond yielded 15.27 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, while the German Bund yielded 3.24 pct, with the yield spread rising to a record high of 1,203 basis points.
Turnover in the market was 77 million euros, of which 6 million were buy orders and the remaining 71 million sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 32 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates remained mostly unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.12 pct, the six-month rose to 1.65 pct, the three-month was 1.35 pct and the one-month rate was 1.19 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of -0.86 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover falling to a record low of 9.959 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,691 contracts worth 8.590 million euros, with 28,882 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 3,070 contracts worth 1.369 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (640), followed by Eurobank (542), Alpha Bank (489), Piraeus Bank (463), OTE (362) and ATEbank (162).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.483
Pound sterling 0.900
Danish kroner 7.568
Swedish kroner 9.059
Japanese yen 121.22
Swiss franc 1.302
Norwegian kroner 7.896
Canadian dollar 1.413
Australian dollar 1.379
 30 killed in fatal road accidents over EasterThe number of fatal road accidents recorded during this year's Easter holiday was notably smaller, reduced by over 30 pct compared with the 2010 Easter exodus. Nonetheless, 30 people lost their lives in road accidents throughout the country according to statistics released by the Traffic Police on Tuesday.
A total of 27 fatal road accidents, were recorded from the start of the weekend (April 15) before Easter Week until Monday, April 25 when the majority of the holidaymakers returned home. In the same period last year, 43 people were killed in 39 fatal road accidents corresponding to a 30.8 pct reduction compared to this year's figures.
The number of serious accidents were also reduced to 47 from 48 last year corresponding to a 2.1 pct decline and minor accidents dropped to 348 compared to 365 last year, corresponding to a 1.9 pct reduction.
According to traffic police, 17 of the 27 fatal road accidents were caused by negligent drivers.
 Two dead, three seriously injured by Easter fireworksTwo people were killed, three were seriously injured and another three sustained lighter injuries as a result of the use of homemade fireworks during the Easter holiday, Greek authorities announced on Tuesday.
Two men were killed on the island of Rhodes while making homemade fireworks, while a 7-year-old boy is still hospitalized in critical condition after a naval flare exploded in his face during celebrations of the midnight Easter mass in the city of Halkida, central Greece.
A man on the SE Aegean island of Kalymnos lost his arm, while another one was seriously injured and three others sustained lighter injuries in an explosion that occurred in a warehouse in Messinia, southern Greece, where they were making homemade fireworks.
Last year, three people were killed, while 8 were seriously injured and 2 suffered lighter injuries.
A total of 142 violations were reported in 12,050 police inspections conducted in private homes, businesses, cars etc in the period between March 24 and April 24 (Easter Sunday) and authorities confiscated 387,197 firecrackers, 484,740 homemade fireworks and 1,801 flares.
 Man jailed for fireworks injury to seven-year-oldA public prosecutor on Tuesday ordered that a 25-year-old man accused of seriously injuring a seven-year-old boy through misuse of fireworks be remanded in custody. He has been charged with causing serious bodily harm, violating laws on the use of fireworks and causing explosions.
The young boy has been hospitalised in critical condition at the Aghia Sofia children's hospital in Athens, where doctors say he stands to lose an eye, after a naval flare ignited during Easter Mass celebrations in Halkida exploded near his head.
 Two foreign nationals arrested with stash of stolen valuablesTwo Georgian nationals were arrested on Tuesday and are being questioned by Thessaloniki police, on charges of possession of three satchels full of jewelry and other gold objects, watches, laptops and other valuables coming from break-ins.
According to police, the two men were arrested when a search of their car turned up the three satchels full of valuables.
The Thessaloniki Police Headquarters will release photographs of the loot for identification by their rightful owners.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy 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 5C and 20C. Rainy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 11C to 18C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 16C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe economy, the political system and measures to reduce the shortfall in state revenues were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Traffic accidents and firecrackers spread death on Easter".
AVRIANI: "While the country has gone bankrupt...full-speed ahead for restructuring of the political system".
DIMOKRATIA: "Alchemy for dismissals in the public sector".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Deficit 'nightmare' sparks debt restructure prospect".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "How 25,000 public sector officers will be evaluated".
ESTIA: "Incompetent social-statists".
ETHNOS: "Black list targets 10,000 professionals".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Extraordinary measures for 3 billion euros to cover the shortfalls".
TA NEA: "Tax audits with name".
VRADYNI: "Arrangement for 2 million stremma of encroached land".
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS