|Friday, 22 June 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 3 May 2011 Issue No: 3777
 Gov't unveils nat'l programme to combat tax evasionThe Greek government on Monday unveiled a national programme aimed at combating tax evasion, which foresees strict inspections of enterprises and taxpayers in the period 2011-2013.
The programme, the result of a joint effort by four ministries, is designed to raise 11.8 billion euros in tax revenues in the period from 2011 to 2013 through combating tax evasion, which has taken dramatic proportions in Greece.
According to the plan, the "black economy" in the country is estimated at 25-37 pct of GDP, equalling annual tax losses of 15 billion euros, or 30 pct of total tax revenue. This performance positions Greece at the top of EU and OECD countries with the largest off-the-books economy percentage rate.
The programme envisages the imposition of strict measures (jail sentences, confiscations, etc) and measures to reorganise tax bureaus by abolishing or merging financial services and maintaining only one tax agency in each prefect capital, with the rest tax agency offices to be replaced by citizens' service offices.
All personnel will be transferred to central tax agency offices to ensuring adequate staff and increased efficiency of inspections.
Under the plan, the finance ministry will set up a new body for collecting tax revenue and introducing a digital coding system to trace illegal imports of tobacco and alcohol products in the country. The national plan also foresees measures to boost international tax cooperation with third countries and to promote a bilateral agreement with Switzerland to monitor deposits by Greek taxpayers abroad.
 Gov't to present new tax legislation by Sept.The finance ministry will present a draft tax legislation by next September aimed at changing tax rates on legal entities, property and tax-exempt incentives, under a national programme to combat tax evasion, unveiled on Monday. The aim of the draft bill is to rationalise extreme cases of sanctions and to abolish sanctions for bureaucratic reasons, seeking to establish a climate of confidence between taxpayers and tax authorities.
Under the plan, the ministry will seek to collect outstanding tax debts totaling 40 billion euros, of which 10 billion euros were characterised as collectable.
 PM chairs meeting on medium-term economic planPrime Minister George Papandreou chaired a meeting on the economy in Parliament on Monday, focusing on the conclusion of pending economic matters of the medium-term plan. The meeting was attended by the ministers George Papacon-stantinou, Yiannis Ragoussis, Dimitris Reppas, Pavlos Geroulanos and Dimitris Droutsas, as well as deputy minister and government spokesman George Petalotis.
According to reports, the medium-term plan will be ratified by the ministerial council before being tabled in Parliament and, according to the same reports, a relevant discussion will also be held with the troika.
Afterwards, the prime minister chaired a meeting with National Bank president professor Vassilis Rapanos and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.
 PM chairs meeting on reviving centre of AthensTougher penalties against those employing illegal migrants, incentives for couples to live in the city centre and the price of a ticket plus 200 euros to migrants that voluntarily leave the country were among measures decided during a government meeting on reviving the centre of Athens held on Monday. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Other measures included a sweep to collect abandoned cars, increased policing and urban renewal projects that simultaneously made use of abandoned buildings.
The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, Alternate Environment Minister Nikos Sifounakis, Deputy Health Minister Christos Aidonis and Deputy Labour Minister Anna Dalara.
 Gov't on reforms; debt repayment"We have proceeded with major structural changes in a very short period and in the past 18 months we did more than what other governments did not do in decades," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis stressed on Monday, adding that "the government had to stop the country from falling off the cliff".
He made it clear that the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou "leaves nothing for later like the preceding New Democracy (ND) government did" and condemned the ND policy "that led to the memorandum".
Petalotis underlined the government's determination to proceed with the necessary reforms and changes that will pull the country out of the crisis.
As regards the telephone communications between PM Papandreou, US President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel, he stated that they were not secret contacts clarifying that they are made regularly and that debt restructuring is out of the question.
Referring to the likelihood of the extension of the debt repayment period and the reduction of the debt interest rate, he stated that "restructuring is totally different from the improvement of debt repayment terms".
On the controversial landfill project planned in Keratea region of east Attica that had led to a months-long standoff between police and local residents protesting against its construction, Petalotis stated that the project will proceed as planned, adding that "details will be discussed" but "EU funds will not be lost".
 ND Political Committee secretary on government policyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) Political Committee Secretary Andreas Lykourentzos on Monday accused the government of "exhausting the people and deepening the recession with its policy".
Lykourentzos also said that ND is ready to present in the coming days its strategy on Greece's exit from the crisis and its new economic proposal.
Moreover, he announced the implementation of a considerable programme for briefing citizens, in which the persident, the vice presidents, the members of the Parliamentary Group, the members of the Political Committee and the regional officials will be participating.
Lykourentzos said the programme will begin immediately after the announcement of the proposals by the president of the party Antonis Samaras.
 FM meets with Serbian Dep. PM DjelicForeign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday met with visiting Serbian Deputy Prime Minister for EU Integration Bozidar Djelic, with the former again reiterating Greece's support towards Serbia's European prospects.
Droutsas stressed during the meeting that the Balkan states' EU accession constitutes a strategic goal for Greece, adding that Serbia's European prospect is being supported by the Greek government within this framework.
On his part, Djelic referred to Greece's initiative aimed at promoting the European accession course of the western Balkan states - known as Agenda 2014 - and to a new momentum it has created.
He also referred to the future prospects of bilateral trade and business relations, underlining that roughly 250 Greek businesses are currently active in Serbia placing Greece third among the major investors in the country.
Djelic is in Athens to attend a business forum hosted by the Greece-Serbia Business Council on Tuesday. The forum will be addressed by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis.
On Tuesday morning, Djelic will meet with Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou.
 FM: bin Laden death blow to terrorism, but "fight does not end here"A strong blow was struck to terrorism with the death of Osama bin Laden, but the fight does not end here, Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said in a statement on Monday.
The international community, beyond religious beliefs and political considerations, has the obligation to unitedly continue the international effort to put an end to the scourge of terrorism, Droutsas added.
International terrorism is a deplorable phenomenon and a continuous threat to international peace and security that undermines the prospects of the societies throughout the entire world for prosperity and growth, he stressed.
 Gov't: Funding cut-off unless football clubs tackle hooliganism"The state will stop funding the Greek football, as early as the next super league, unless the June 3 general assembly of the Greek Football Federation (EPO) proceeds with a reform of its disciplinary code," Deputy Culture & Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis stressed on Monday.
After meeting in his office with General Secretary for Sports Panos Bitsaxis and EPO President Sofoklis Pilavios, Nikitiadis expressed the state's determination to face hooliganism head on, underlining that it is a social phenomenon.
The meeting was held in response to the violent clashes between police and rampaging football supporters before and after a Super League football Cup final between AEK FC and Atromitos FC at the Athens Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening.
Nikitiadis, whose portfolio includes sports, underlined that the new code should include strict penalties for football teams in case of violence in the stadiums.
In a related development, Supreme Court Deputy Public Prosecutor Anastasios Kanellopoulos on Monday announced the launch of an urgent preliminary inquiry into AEK-Atromitos final.
Kanellopoulos, who has been placed in charge of sports-related violence and stadiums, intends to call representatives of all clubs, supporters and police commanders in order to investigate to what degree they may have been responsible for the incidents, which also drew negative comments abroad.
Finally, an Athens court on Monday handed down suspended sentences of between 3 and 6 months to three of the 11 individuals arrested in last Saturday's violent clashes after the Greek Cup Final. They will also have to appear to a police station on their team's game days.
Other two individuals were acquitted and the remaining five requested to be tried on a later date.
All defendants face charges for use of violence and possession of explosives.
 Ministerial decision sets criteria for franchise college licencesPrivate colleges providing tertiary-level education, mostly offering courses under franchise agreements with universities in the U.S. and European Union, have been made part of Greece's Life Long Learning Institutions Network based on a decision announced by Alternate Education Minister Fofi Gennimata on Monday.
As such, in order to be issued an operating licence they will now have to meet standards of quality laid down by the ministry for the first time since such colleges first appeared in Greece nearly 50 years ago.
The criteria for issuing licences are outlined in the ministerial decision published in the government gazette and concern the academic staff, the curriculum and the facilities available at such colleges.
"Free Studies Workshops operated without rules for 50 years. The quality of their services until now depended on how conscientious their owners were," Gennimata stressed, adding that this would no longer be good enough and expressing her conviction that the quality of these institutions would be considerably improved, benefiting thousands of students.
 LA.O.S on measures against tax evasion; bin Laden killingOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) on Monday characterised as "very important" the efforts aimed at combating tax evasion, adding that the increase of taxable assets is an even more important issue.
As regards the first anniversary of the memorandum, LA.O.S underlined that "a chance was missed", adding that the government was unable to "jumpstart" the economy.
Referring to the likely privatization of Public Power Corp. SA (PPC SA), LA.O.S maintained that the state should keep control of strategic utilities.
Commenting on the death of arch-terrorist Osama bin Laden, which was announced by the US president, LA.O.S underlined that bin Laden's actions ignited major structural changes in NATO.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras on economy; trade union movementOpposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday blamed the prime minister for the state of the economy and for adopting the memorandum solution.
Speaking on state radio, Tsipras underlined that there are "no magical formulae" but Prime Minister George Papandreou is "largely responsible for the dramatic state the Greek economy and society are in".
He said that "a year ago, the PM had stated that by seeking the assistance of the troika he led the country to a safe harbour. Since then it has been proved that the harbour was anything but safe and that he has put us at the center of a tornado that has left nothing intact."
On the trade union movement and the disappointing demonstrations held on May Day, he said "the trade union movement does not inspire the people".
 Syrians hold rally in AthensOver 200 Syrian demonstrators held a rally in Kotzia Square, central Athens, on Monday, followed by a march to Syntagma Square, calling for an end to bloodshed in Syria.
The demonstrators also distributed a proclamation during the rally, noting that the Syrian peope "is making today its revolution against an authoritarian and dictatorial regime which destroyed the country only to remain in power.".
 FinMin: Debt manageable, no issue of restructuringThe Greek debt is manageable and there is no issue of debt restructuring, Greece's finance minister George Papacon-stantinou said in an interview with the French newspaper Liberacion appearing on Monday.
"There are those who consider restructure inevitable. There are also those, however, who have wagered a lot of money on Greece going bankrupt. That explains the ridiculous rumors in recent weeks. There is no issue of restructuring," Papaconstantinou said, adding that the extension of the 110 billion euros loan that Greece has received from the Euro Area countries and the IMF are the best solution.
 Rehn: Debt restructuring not part of EU strategyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
"The proponents of debt restructuring seem to ignore the potentially devastating implications for the financial stability of a country and for the eurozone as a whole," Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn underlined on Monday.
Speaking to reporters here, Rehn repeated that a debt restructuring was not part of the EU's strategy and it will not be.
The EU Commissioner said economic reforms programmes in Greece and Ireland are at their early stages, with both countries implementing very ambitious plans of fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and changes in their financial systems.
"Our analysis shows that a debt/GDP ratio was stabilising and is beginning to decline on the precondition that these programs will be fully implemented," Rehn told reporters, while he expressed his opposition to claims alleging of a failure in the strategy followed in managing a debt crisis in Greece.
Our strategy aims at preventing a new heart attack in markets as it happened after the collapse of Lehman Bros. in September 2008, the Commissioner said, adding that European authorities have managed to limit anxiety over public debt in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
Rehn said that Spain has decoupled from these three countries helped by an aggressive policy implemented by the government.
 Former deputy prosecutor Yiannis Diotis to head up SDOEFormer deputy public prosecutor Yiannis Diotis has been appointed as the new special secretary of the financial crimes' squad SDOE, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou announced on Monday.
Diotis was in charge of prosecuting crimes of terrorism and played a key role in the investigation and prosecution of the urban guerrilla group November 17, which was dismantled in the early 00s. He will replace the current head of SDOE Yiannis Kapeleris, the finance ministry general secretary.
 Greek PMI recovered in AprilGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) recovered to 46.8 points in April from 45.4 in March showing signs of recovery in business conditions in the country's manufacturing sector, the highest reading since January 2010.
Manufacturing production fell for the 19th consecutive month in April, although the rate of decline was the slowest since December 2009. Export new orders fell slightly, while unemployment continued rising as a result of lower sales levels, while weak demand depleted inventories. Pending works by Greek manufacturers fell with the faster rate in the last three months in April reflecting lower levels of incoming new jobs.
Average factory prices fell for the second consecutive month in April, while higher import cost pressures continued in April, although at the slower rate since November 2010.
The purchasing managers' index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 ELPE employees call new 10-day strikeEmployees of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) are launching a 10-day strike beginning on Friday that could potentially disrupt the smooth supply of the market with fuel.
The employees at ELPE, which controls three of the four oil refineries in Greece, will be on strike through May 16, since seven rounds of negotiations with the ELPE management since the suspension of their previous 10-day labor action in mid-April have failed to result in agreement between the two sides.
 Stocks end moderately lowerStocks ended moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market falling 0.39 pct to end at 1,429.12 points.
Turnover was a low 56.680 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 0.46 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.35 pct lower and the Small Cap index rose 0.61 pct. OPAP (1.47 pct) and PPC (1.16 pct) were among blue chip stocks to end higher, while ATEbank (4.35 pct), Hellenic Postbank (3.45 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (2.44 pct) ended lower.
The Technology (2.69 pct), Personal Products (2.03 pct) and Insurance (1.72 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (8.11 pct), Chemicals (1.85 pct) and Food (1.85 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 78 to 70 with another 46 issues unchanged. Centric Multimedia (11.11 pct), Mihaniki (10 pct), Akritas (9.80 pct) and Athina (9.52 pct) were top gainers, while Audiovisual (9.76 pct), Pairis (8.57 pct) and Ilyda (8.57 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.93%
Personal & Household: +2.03%
Raw Materials: -0.60%
Travel & Leisure: +1.33%
Food & Beverages: -1.85%
Financial Services: -3.13%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.88
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.30
HBC Coca Cola: 18.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.10
National Bank of Greece: 5.23
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.77
Bank of Piraeus: 1.09
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 12.3 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market from 12.54 pct last week, with the Greek bond yielding 15.56 pct and the German Bund 3.26 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 51 million euros, of which 27 million were sell orders and the remaining 24 million euros were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 7.0 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 2.13 pct, the six-month rate 1.68 pct, the three-month 1.39 pct and the one-month rate 1.24 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.84 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 42.518 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,496 contracts worth 36.592 million euros, with 31,296 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,399 contracts worth 5.926 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,254), followed by Eurobank (1,052), OTE (573), Piraeus Bank (1,093), Alpha Bank (2,382), Hellenic Postbank (1,327), ATEbank (395) and Motor Oil (130).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.506
Pound sterling 0.902
Danish kroner 7.569
Swedish kroner 9.060
Japanese yen 122.66
Swiss franc 1.304
Norwegian kroner 7.896
Canadian dollar 1.429
Australian dollar 1.375
 Mediterranean SOS beach-cleaning campaign kicks off SundayThe Mediterranean SOS Network has announced that its nationwide voluntary campaign to clean up Greece's beaches and coasts 'Clean the Mediterranean' will kick off next Sunday for the 16th consecutive year. The first meeting will be at Schinias Beach in east Attica, at 10:30 a.m.
Volunteers are invited to help clean beaches, archaeological sites and parks and to gather data on the condition of the coasts that they are cleaning, such as sources of pollution, possible recycling options and other information.
The campaign is being carried out with the aid of the United Nations Environmental Programme/ Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) and the European Commission's representation in Greece.
In a press conference on Monday, Mediterranean SOS President Evangelos Kioukasas stressed the importance of the campaign given that Greece had 16,000 kilometres of coasts, or roughly half the coastline of the entire Mediterranean.
The head of the European Commission's representation Panos Karvounis particularly emphasised the problem of pollution by plastics in the Mediterranean, where he said that 500 tonnes of fragmented plastic waste was now floating. He underlined the need to deal with the problem given that the Mediterranean was a closed sea whose waters were renewed every 80 to 90 years. Karvounis said the solution was to ban plastic bags, as was done in several countries, or to remove the pollutants, which was difficult and time-consuming.
He also announced that a pilot programme for the collection of waste at sea by fishing craft, announced by European Commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries Maria Damanaki, will begin in the south of France on May 20.
 Dion-Olympus mayor on suspension pending trialThe mayor of Dion-Olympus George Papathanassiou has been placed on suspension by the Macedonia-Thrace Decentralised Administration General Secretary Thymios Sokos until he is tried on charges of misconduct while serving as mayor of Litohoro.
Papathanassiou is up on criminal charges, including dereliction of duty, in connection with his part in the sale of inert materials during his time as mayor.
Sokos said the decision was taken in accordance with the new municipalities and communities code, which calls for the suspension of elected officials indicted for criminal offences.
Papathanassiou issued a written statement describing the decision as unfair, noting that other local authority officials remained in office and were not suspended even when courts had passed guilty verdicts against them. He said that he had appealed against the decision and also asked for his trial date to be brought up to September 2011.
Concerning Central Macedonia Regional Authority chief Panagiotis Psomiadis, who was given a suspended sentence of 12 months by a Thessaloniki appeals court for breach of duty, Sokos noted that Psomiadis should have been placed on suspension before the case even went to appeal and stressed that the law would be applied.
 Quarter of Greek parents uses Internet filters for their kidsRoughly one in four Greek parents (24 percent) uses parental control software to block, filter or otherwise monitor the websites their children visit on the Internet, according to the Greek Safer Internet centre. This is close to the European Union average, which ranges from a low 9 percent of parental control in Romania to 54 percent in the United Kingdom.
Apart from child filters and other forms of control, 70 percent of parents responding to the survey EUKidsOnline said that they talked to their children about their activities on the Internet and 58 percent claimed that they stayed close to their children when these used the Internet.
An assessment of 26 popular parental control filters available for PCs, three for game consoles and two for mobile phones by the programme SIP-BENCH funded by the EU Saferinternet programme found that 84 percent allowed parents to block access to specific sites but were less effective in filtering Web 2.0 content, such as social networking sites or blogs.
The study also showed that the filters were appropriate for filtering web content for adults but there remained a 20 percent possibility that websites unsuitable for children would slip through the filter, including sites that encouraged young people to self-harm through anorexia, suicide or self-mutilation. At the same time, they blocked sites with content specifically designed for children.
Filters for 'smart' phones and game consoles did less well and not all products on the market were capable of filtering web content even though 31 percent of children in Europe now have access to the Internet via their phones and 26 percent via game consoles.
At the web-page www.yprt.eu/sip parents can find a database of the various parental control tools best suited to their needs.
In the framework of the EU's safer Internet programme, the European Commission will continue to fund the assessment of parental control software every six months until the end of 2012.
 12 illegal migrants on hunger strike at Soufli border police stationTwelve illegal immigrants detained at the Border Police station in Soufli have been on hunger strike since April 28 to demand their immediate release, authorities announced on Monday.
The hunger strikers include five Iranians, three Iraqis, two Syrians, a Nigerian and one Turk. Six of the detained migrants have applied for political asylum.
Police said that all 12 migrants are being monitored by doctors and are in good health.
 Convicted terrorist's request for medical furlough examined on June 6A Piraeus court on Monday adjourned for June 6 to consider arequest for a medical furlough submitted by Savvas Xiros, one of the convicted "17 November" ultra-leftist urban terrorists. The request was based on health problems that allegedly call for medical examinations at Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital.
The court based its decision on the absence of a medical opinion on Xiros' health problem, which was signed by Korydallos Prison's medical staff.
Savvas Xiros, 49 -- one of three Xiros brothers serving a prison sentence in the N17 case -- suffered extensive injuries after a bomb he was planting exploded in his hands in June 2002.
 Electric railway work stoppages on TuesdayThe Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway (ISAP) will hold a four-hour work-stoppage beginning at noon on Tuesday.
During the work stoppage the ISAP workers will attend a general assembly meeting to decide on further mobilizations in protest against what they describe as "forced" transfers to other services.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 25C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 24C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 19C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEconomic issues dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "All opposition parties lambasted the government, in May Day messages".
AVRIANI: "Powerful interests pressuring Samaras (main opposition New Democracy-ND leader)".
DIMOKRATIA: "PM the leader of the chaos".
ELEFTEHEROS: "Seizure of property and bank accounts of those who owe contributions to social security funds".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The government a simple spectator of the dissolution of state and society".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The worst is coming".
ESTIA: "Those who undermined the economy".
ETHNOS: "Black hole in all the auxiliary pension funds".
IMERISSIA: "90 foreign Funds focus on Athens Stock Exchange, privatisations".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Second interest rate increase in eurozone on the horizon".
TA NEA: "How the Memorandum has changed our lives".
VRADYNI: "Red card to the government's policy of unemployment".
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