|Wednesday, 25 April 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 8 June 2011 Issue No: 3807
 Government to approve Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy on ThursdayA meeting of the full cabinet chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou is scheduled to convene at noon on Thursday in order to approve the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy for 2012-2015.
A meeting of ruling PASOK's Political Council originally scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed until Wednesday evening after a meeting of the PASOK Parliamentary Economic Work Sector, during which there was extensive discussion on the provisions of the Medium-Term Strategy, stretched into additional time.
 FinMin: Mid-Term Program to be tabled by end of weekFinance minister George Papaconstantinou late Monday told an informal Cabinet meeting that the Medium-Term Program on the economy will be tabled in parliament by the end of the week, according to sources, but it will not be voted on before the upcoming EU summit due to lack of time.
The same sources said that the new tax bill for 2012 will be tabled in September, providing for simplification of the tax scale, reduction of taxation rates, reduction of taxation of businesses, and reduction of VAT, although the main VAT rate will rise to 23 percent. However, the sources cited Papaconstantinou as saying that foods will not be subject to the 23 percent VAT rate.
The sources further cited Papaconstantinou as admitting shortfalls in the implementation of the Memorandum, attributing them to the recession in the economy. He added, however, that the government will not back down on its targets.
The finance minister further noted that the government intends to incorporate two of the proposals recently unveiled by main opposition New Democracy, namely those concerning 'reserve labor' and incentives for the repatriation of capital, which it intends to combine with the purchase of Greek bonds with that capital, the sources added.
Papaconstantinou also assured the Cabinet that the 5th tranche of the 110 billion euros EU-IMF bailout loan will be disbursed to Greece regularly, but the overall solution for the new loan facilitation to Greece, the permanent support mechanism, the Euro-bond and other decisions originally expected to be taken at the EU summit in June will most likely be postponed to the next Summit in September.
The Cabinet meeting lasted to past midnight, as all the ministers took the floor and covered all areas of government policy.
 Petalotis denies plan for referendum on Medium-Term StrategyThe government has no plans for a national referendum to approve the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Tuesday.
"The Medium-Term plan is not everything but only a stage, a step in the change that the country needs," he told reporters.
Explaining a reference to the possibility of holding a referendum made by Prime Minister George Papandreou during Monday's cabinet meeting, Petalotis said that this was a standing position held by the prime minister.
"In an age when there is a need for great consensuses in order to proceed with major changes, if it is necessary and if such issues of major importance are raised and something like this is decided, a referendum may contribute," he said.
 PM calls for re-establishment of democracyPrime minister George Papandreou called for the re-establishment of democracy, in a second statement late Monday to a marathon informal Cabinet meeting.
He said it is necessary to "permanently cast off" the clientele relations, lack of transparency, dependences, extensive lawlessness, impunity and corruption.
Papandreou expressed satisfaction with the discussion that took place during the informal Cabinet meeting, noting that everyone agreed that the country's problem is not simply the "direct and vital problem of the debt", but rather the need for "deep-rooted reversals to a political and institutional system that has gone bankrupt".
The premier said that his government has set in motion the changes needed, but has not succeeded in progressing as far as it wanted, and attributed that delay to the pressing need to deal with "the risk of bankruptcy that we suddenly faced after the elections".
Further, the need for national understanding "remains a national need' to which "all the other (political) forces should have already responded", he continued.
The premier reiterates that he was "open" to all the political parties for discussion and to jointly iron out positions on the matter of the major changes and the medium-term program.
He invited the opposition parties to jointly, together with the government, negotiate with the Troika with the aim of maximizing the benefits for Greece and the Greek people.
Papandreou further reiterated that he will persist on the need for backing of the medium-term program by a "broad political and social majority", adding that the government was continuously renegotiating, without awaiting recommendations from anyone, and expressed certainty that PASOK and its parliamentary group will support the government's effort.
 ND leader meets French PM on Greek economyPARIS (ANA-MPA/O Tsipira)
Greece's main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras met with French Prime Minister Fran?ois Fillon here on Tuesday,.
Speaking to reporters afterwards Samaras referred to the main points of his discussion with Fillon.
Samaras explained to the French prime minister all the points on which he disagrees on an EC/ECB/IMF troika plan, stressing that ND is unable to consent to a plan that, a year later, showed that "the recipe has failed."
The ND leader also raised the following issues:
-The need for strengthening fluidity with the participation of the European Investments Bank, so that fresh money can enter the real economy.
-The future of common agricultural policy and the consequences for Greece after the reform in 2013.
-The problems being faced by the injured Greek society.
-The immigration issue, with stress on the need for the revision of Dublin II so that the EU can also share the responsibilities.
 French PM calls for 'responsible stance' by Greek political forcesFrench Prime Minister Fran?ois Fillon called during the meeting he held on Tuesday afternoon with Greece's main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras for support by the political groups for the new structural plan that the Greek government has negotiated.
The prime minister's office issued the following press release after the meeting:
"The prime minister reminded (the ND leader) of the unimpeded support being provided for Greece by France and the other countries of the eurozone.
"He hailed the courage of the Greek people as well as the efforts of the Greek government for the country's economic and fiscal recovery.
"Fran?ois Fillon stressed the need for the showing of a responsible stance by the Greek political forces, at this crucial period, something that entails in particular, the support of the main political groups for the new structural plan that the Greek government, the IMF and the European Union negotiated."
 Samaras telephone call with Passos CoelhoMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras had a telephone discussion on Tuesday with Portuguese centre-right PSD party leader Pedro Passos Coelho, whose party prevailed in Sunday's elections in Portugal.
Samaras, on a visit to Paris, congratulated Passos Coelho on his electoral success.
 European Commission president on Greek economic crisisSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/N. Roussis)
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, addressing Tuesday the European Parliament Plenum, stressed that painful measures must be taken in Greece to enable the country to exit from the debt crisis.
Replying to relevant questions by Eurodeputies, during the hour of questions to the European Commission, Barroso expressed solidarity to the Greek people, but claimed that it was up to the Greek political leaders to speak with sincerity to the people and say which sacrifices exactly are necessary for the country to exit from the crisis.
Some painful measures are essential in Greece, he clarified but appealed to the Greek leaders to show the citizens what exactly is necessary.
A country cannot live forever with such debt problems, he said, stressing that he realised from the contacts he has with Greece that this is something that they understand in both the government and the opposition.
Greece's problem, said the Commission president, is the high level of the debt. Greece has no intention of leaving the eurozone and the Greek opposition also supports this, he concluded.
 Eurogroup president Juncker, Commissioner Rehn on Greek economic crisisSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA)
Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Olli Rehn pointed, during their addresses on Monday at the European Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee in Strasbourg, to the absolute implementation of the commitments undertaken by the Greek government towards the EC/ECB/IMF troika, as well as the full adoption, by the main opoposition party of the policies of the programme that Greece has agreed to.
Commissioner Rehn stressed that if there is no progress in the promotion of structural changes in crucial sectors of the Greek economy, the June tranche will not be disbursed. Both the Commissioner and the Eurogroup president assured that an issue of Greece's exit from the euro was never raised, nor of the restructuring of the Greek debt with the curbing of the value of state bonds. Indeed, Juncker termed the privatisations in Greece necessary.
The two EU officials also stated that they consider political consensus in Greece, mainly on the part of the main opposition party, necessary for the programme for the recovery of the Greek economy to proceed smoothly.
 PASOK MPs level stinging criticism over economic policyStinging criticism of government shortcomings was voiced by ruling PASOK party MPs during a stormy session of the party's Parliamentary Work Sector for economics on Tuesday, which ran over the scheduled time and led to PASOK's Political Council being postponed until the following day.
Addressing the meeting, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou denied that the government's economic policy had "failed" but admitted to delays and some mistakes. He noted that in order to receive the fifth tranche of the loans agreed with the IMF and European Union countries, Greece had to show "that it is doing something" and also referred to pressures to carry out privatisations.
Among the harshest critics were Vasso Papandreou, a former minister under the PASOK government of Costas Simitis and one-time European Commissioner for Greece. Papandreou pressed the finance minister to reveal what had been done in terms of suing speculators suspected of abusing the system in order to manipulate markets and stressed that the current policy of "expensive lending for a poor country leads nowhere".
She challenged Papaconstantinou to "tell people the truth, that their standard of living will drop by 30 percent".
The MP was also scathing about the government's 'opengov' system, describing it as a 'smokescreen' to cover up the choices of the government's cronies.
Another former minister, Costas Geitonas, said the prime minister and president had not tried hard enough to push for a consensus between the political parties on the measures to be adopted and said the government "appears to have lost the communications game".
Others stressed that the policy of squeezing people for more and more taxes had only resulted in emptying bank accounts and filling public squares with armies of 'discontented and disoriented' citizens.
Finmin's reply to MPs
Responding to the criticism, Papaconstantinou distributed a lengthy circular outlining the course of the economy over the past 20 months and details about the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy to the 90-odd MPs participating in Tuesday's meeting.
He stressed that those resorting to "easy criticism" of the government and questioning its credibility were "unaware of crucial variables" that he listed as "uncertainty in the international economic firmament, instability in markets and backtracking of European policy".
In the circular, Papaconstantinou explained why additional measures amounting to 6.4 billion euro had been necessary in 2011, blaming them on initial underestimates of the original deficit (2.5 billion euro), the recession (1 billion euro), lower-than-estimated tax revenues (1.7 billion euro) and 1.2 billion euro from a re-evaluation of the impact of measures.
The minister emphasised that tackling tax evasion was the linchpin of government policy while noting that no country had ever solved these problems overnight. He also denied that there was a failure in terms of raising revenues, which he said had increased by 5 billion euro in 2010.
Outlining the targets of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy, the minister said that this included a reduction in public-sector payroll costs by 2 percent of GDP through streamlining and reduction of staff in the public sector, a 20 percent reduction in defence spending, an increase in the profits of public utility companies by 1.5 billion euro and savings of 1.6 billion euro through cost-cutting in health and pharmaceuticals speding.
A further three billion euro are expected to arise by combatting tax evasion and a further 6 billion euro from widening the tax base through direct and indirect taxation, he added.
 ND criticises gov't for considering 'divisive referendum'The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday lashed out at the government for considering what it called a "divisive referendum" and said the government was putting the "cart before the horse" by discussing preparations for holding a referendum before deciding what question should be put to the voters.
"A decision on the approach to be followed is made first and the question is decided afterwards. The carriage is put before the horse. They are not interested in the substance, they only care about impressions. This is just another trick," ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis stressed.
"Such a referendum will be divisive and misleading. The dilemmas created by the government cause confusion. They hurt and do not benefit the country. On top of a wrong policy that hurts the economy they seek to put a referendum that divides the Greek people," Mihelakis pointed out, expressing hopes that the referendum rumours will prove to be just another scenario.
Referring to what the prime minister said in the informal cabinet meeting a day earlier, he stressed that "they try to cultivate an atmosphere of fear in society".
"This effort continues today. We cannot accept this rationale," he stated and repeated that consensus is out of the question.
"We will not put our signature to a mistake. Our main goal is the renegotiation of the memorandum. The absence of a consensus is not what stops the government from doing its job," he stressed.
 Staikouras slams 'monumental inefficiency' of gov't economic policyMain opposition New Democracy sector-head for economic affairs Christos Staikouras on Tuesday blasted the government's economic policy, noting that the country's GDP had now shrunk to the same levels as in the 3rd quarter of 2005.
Since coming into power in 2009, the government had driven unemployment to 15.9 percent, inflation to 3.9 percent and the economic climate had collapsed, with construction down 62.8 percent and the retail sector down 17.5 percent, Staikouras said.
He also pointed to the dismal performance of Greek bonds and an increase in the cost of borrowing, as well as a galloping rise in public debt that had soared to 354 billion euro from 298 billion euro in September 2009.
Staikouras went on to accuse the government of "monumental inefficiency" in its efforts to reduce the deficit, pointing out that the Memorandum had originally called for measures amounting to 9 billion euro, that a further 11.6 billion had since been added, but this had only led to a reduction of the deficit by 7 billion euro.
"We are the only country in Europe that is in recession, the cost of borrowing is increasing, unemployment and inflation are galloping, the retail trade is shrinking, the psychology of the market is crumbling, spreads are widening, the debt is growing and the divergence from the government's targets is massive," he concluded.
 Health minister in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Health and Social Solidarity Minister Andreas Loverdos was expected to arrive in New York on Tuesday evening to represent Greece at the International Summit on combatting HIV/AIDS, whose sessions will begin at the UN headquarters on Wednesday and come to an end on Friday.
Loverdos will present Greece's positions and efforts to combat the virus of HIV/AIDS, while speaking from the General Assembly's podium on Thursday.
 Gov't on 'Hawala' activities by migrant smuggling ringsCitizens Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Monday referred to a recent incident off the Ionian island of Corfu involving the sinking of a vessel carrying illegal migrants, in response to a tabled question by an opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) deputy.
A written statement forwarded to Parliament by the minister underlined that the investigation conducted so far by Greek Police has brought to light no evidence linking the recent sinking of the vessel with the "Hawala" system, ostensibly used as a cash transport and payment system used by international illegal migrant trafficking rings.
Papoutsis said authorities are aware of the Hawala system, the unique feature of which is that no promissory instruments are exchanged between the parties involved. The transaction takes place entirely on the basis of "trust", and operates in the absence of a legal and juridical environment, while often funding illegal activities, tax evasion or money-laundering.
"Relevant authorities gather information on this specific system and its utilisation by international illegal migrant trafficking rings and terrorists for the purpose of transferring capital necessary to finance the preparation, organisation and execution of terrorist acts, human trafficking or even reinforcing the structure of such organisations," Papoutsis warned.
Greece has increasingly come under pressure over recent years from the massive flow of mostly Third World illegals entering its territory -- in most cases via Turkey -- in a bid to reach other west European destinations. Increasingly high concentrations of illegal migrants are often recorded in major urban areas, as exiting Greece proves more difficult than remaining, as countries of origin refuse to acknowledge their undocumented citizens, whereas Turkey has only recently stepped up efforts to repatriate would-be migrants using its territory as transit.
 KKE leader meets with Cuban deputy FMCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga met on Tuesday with visiting Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera.
According to an announcement, Papariga expressed her party's solidarity with Cuba and reiterated KKE's position against "the criminal blockade by the USA and the European Union's 'common stance' regarding Cuba."
She also underlined the Greek communists' support for the "international struggle for the liberation of five Cubans that are unjustly imprisoned in the US."
"The KKE stands steadfastly in solidarity with the people of Cuba and their revolution against the continuous attacks, threats and imperialism's tactics of undermining," the announcement concluded.
 Koumoutsakos on Greek 'Indignants' movementMain opposition New Democracy (ND) Europarliamentarian George Koumoutsakos, addressing a European Parliament plenary on Tuesday, noted the dimensions that the movement of protesting citizens has taken on throughout Greece.
Koumoutsakos noted that Europe is obliged to listen with great attention to the voices of the citizens, stressing that no policy is viable without the support, or at least the tolerance, of society.
"We are obliged to listen to the Belgian finance minister when he said that, in Greece, we must not exceed the measures that society can endure, because development is not recorded, and the country does not recover," Koumoutsakis warned.
 'Indignados' gather in Syntagma Square for 13th day"Indignados" gathered for the 13th day at Syntagma Square in Athens on Tuesday to protest economic policy as a result of the memorandum.
They declare determined to stay in the square until the appearance of "conditions for a better tomorrow with a prospect and hope."
They were fewer than on previous days but, according to "Indignados" representatives, they are preparing a rally in Syntagma Square on Wednesday with the aim of blockading Parliament in order to prevent a discussion on a medium-term economic programme at the cabinet meeting, scheduled for Thursday.
 Protestors jeer deputy employment minister, riot police officer injuredA MAT riot police officer was injured during an incident outside the municipal cultural center in the Zographou district of Athens on Monday afternoon, where deputy employment minister Anna Dalara was speaking, police said.
A crowd of about 100 people gathered outside the cultural center and jeered Dalara as she showed up for the event, while they also threw plastic bottles of water and rocks against a riot police contingent that had been dispatched to the venue for precautionary reasons.
The riot police made limited use of chemicals to disperse the crowd, while reinforcements also arrived.
The protestors remained outside the venue throughout Dalara's address, then dispersed at about 9:15 p.m.
Speaking on a private radio station on Tuesday, government spokesman George Petalotis once again accused the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) for the incident, claiming that the "protagonists" were "members of SYRIZA who attempted to cancel a PASOK party gathering".
"Such targeting could lead to other actions. I pay no attention, because it comes from politically desperate people. SYRIZA is comprised of components that act with anything but peaceful intentions," Petalotis said.
Petalotis himself had been the target of a similar incident last week when he was trapped inside a senior citizens' center (KAPI) in the Athens suburb of Argyroupolis on Thursday evening by jeering protestors as he was addressed an open political event by the ruling PASOK party. The government spokesman had pointed again to SYRIZA as being behind the Argyroupolis incident.
 No question of closing ANA-MPA, gov't saysGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday categorically ruled out any prospect that the state-run news agency ANA-MPA will be among the public-sector organisations and bodies that are to be closed down in the framework of mergers to reduce public-sector spending.
"Most definitely there is no issue concerning the ANA-MPA," the spokesman said, adding that both the news agency and public television channel were national tools for promoting the viewpoints of the country.
The government had "put things in order" at a difficult economic time, restricting spending, in order to ensure that they were better and more objective, he added.
 EOT economic irregularities case forwarded to parliamentThe National Tourism Organization (EOT) case file on economic irregularities committed in the two-year period of 2008-2009 was forwarded to parliament on Tuesday by Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Nikolaos Pantelis.
The case file concerns unjustified expenditures for guest accommodations, expensive gifts and directly assigned contracts.
The court investigation was based on findings presented by Public Administration General Inspector Leandros Rakintzis.
 FinMin at Financial Times int'l conference in AthensThe road ahead does not end with the first victories that have been achieved, but is a long and difficult road that requires endurance and determination, finance minister George Papaconstantinou said in a written statement on Tuesday.
In a written statement read out to a Financial Times international conference in Athens, Papaconstantinou added that the government's recent decisions are imbued by those characteristics.
Addressing the same conference International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior representative for Greece Bob Traa said that Greece is at a critical crossroads, adding that the reforms must continue with greater impetus.
 Greek bankers say reform effort must continueEurobank's chief executive, Nikolaos Nanopoulos, on Tuesday said "fatigue" and delays in promoting the necessary reforms were leading to deviation from original goals and commitments in the country.
Addressing a FT conference in Athens, the Greek banker noted that this situation was not offering a way out. Instead, further, more difficult decisions, interventions with redesigning of the course, intensifying adjustment efforts, were needed, Nanopoulos said, adding that implementing a Mid-Term adjustment program without any delays or deviation was a necessary precondition for the country to exit the crisis.
The measures will be painful, but inactivity or denial were not a solution. Nanopoulos underlined that for such a painful plan to succeed it was necessary to achieve the widest possible political and social consensus.
Commenting on the domestic banking system, Nanopoulos said a trend towards strategic partnerships and greater consolidation was a logical development, when conditions would allow it. "They are very complex initiatives, that need attention and very good planning and cooperation to offer a positive result for the economy," he said.
Panagiotis Thomopoulos, president of the Financial Stability Fund, addressing the conference said that Greek banks resisted the crisis despite pressures and predicted that a trend of capital outflow could be reversed as the Greek economy gradually restored market confidence.
Alexandros Tourkolias, deputy chief executive officer in National Bank, said interventions by the European Central Bank to support the domestic banking system were not a sustainable solution in the long-term and said banks needed to gradually lower their dependence from ECB's funding operations. Tourkolias predicted that the country's banking chart will change in near term.
Alexandros Manos, Piraeus Bank's chief executive, said a rise in taxation was limiting room for manoeuvring in efforts to exploit the state's real estate property and urged for a consensus on a minimum taxation of wealth and for a stable tax regulatory framework.
 TAP environmental impact study by end JulyA preliminary environmental impact study on the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will be submitted to the environment, energy and climate change ministry by the end of July, the consortium constructing the natural gas project announced on Tuesday.
The consortium also unveiled the feasibility study for the natgas pipeline, which was not obligatory but aims at providing information to all interested sides.
According to the "Scoping Report on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment" (ESIA), the TAP will hook up to the existing natural gas grid near Nea Messimvria in the region of Central Macedonia, extend approximately 185 kilometers to the Greek-Albanian border, entering Albania northwest of Dipotamia. The route will cross the peripheries of Central and Western Macedonia, the municipalities of Halkidona, Alexandria, Naoussa, Edessa, Skydra, Amyntaio, Pella, Eordaia, Kastoria, Nestorio and Orestiada.
The feasibility study describes the possible environmental and social impact of the chosen route and the measures proposed to mitigate them.
The planning provides for the transit of natural gas from Azerbaijan via the Turkish and Greek network to Albania, and from there by underwater pipeline to Turkey.
Both the TAP and the Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) pipelines as well as the Nabucco pipeline are competing for the natural gas of the new deposit at Shah Deniz in Azerbaijan.
 DE.PA signs MoC with RomgazDE.PA - Greece's natural gas management company - on Tuesday announced the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with Romgaz, Romania's natural gas operator.
Under the memorandum, the two companies will seek joint ventures in the wider southeast European market and examine joint actions.
The cooperation is linked with the construction of a north-south Greece-Bulgaria natural gas pipeline, which will give Sofia and Bucharest access to natural gas supplies from the Caspian Sea through the TGI pipeline. The memorandum was signed by Haris Sahinis, DE.PA's chairman and chief executive, and Marcel Piteiu, CEO of Romgaz.
 Prospects on Greek-Ukrainian tradeThe monastic community of Mount Athos, in northern Greece, is a popular destination for Ukrainian tourists while the overall tourist arrivals from Ukraine show a steady increase, according to recent figures.
Investing in the prospects that emerge in the tourism sector, Aerosvit Airlines announced that it was considering the commencement of two weekly flights linking Thessaloniki with the Ukraine, the president of the newly established Hellenic-Ukrainian Association for Commerce and Industry told ANA-MPA on Monday.
 N. Greece enterprises pessimistic over outlookBusinesses located in northern Greece remained very pessimistic over their outlook and over new hirings in May, the Northern Greece Business Index 500 (NGBI 500) revealed on Tuesday.
The index, based on a sample of 500 enterprises in the region, recorded one of its lowest readings ever in May, at -40 points, down from -42 in April and -30 in the same month last year.
Around 30 pct of business people in northern Greece said they planned lay-offs in May, down from 36 pct in April, but up from 25 pct in May 2010.
Only 8.0 pct of businesses said their general situation was good, while only 12 pct said they expected things to improve in the next six months, with 50 pct predicting the economic climate will remain flat, while a 38 pct said things will get worse.
 GSEE supports strikes by public utility unions; public transport strikesThe General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella trade union organisation, on Tuesday expressed support for strike action organised by public utility trade unions and urged the workforce to take part in a nationwide strike by public utility staff on Thursday, as well as a rally planned at Klafthmonos Square in central Athens the same day.
The goal of the strikes is to ensure that public enterprises and utilities that "are a lever for the country's growth and serve the public interest" remain in the public sector and are not privatised.
GSEE's Executive Committee will hold a meeting on Wednesday, to be followed by a joint meeting with the executive committee of the civil servants' union federation ADEDY, in order to coordinate the common action of trade unions.
Public transport workers are also participating in the strike on Thursday but will operate during the middle of the day in order to allow people to attend the union rallies. Specifically, Athens buses will run between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. and workers on the metro and electric railway (ISAP) will be on strike from the start of their shift until 8:00 a.m.
 Perama shipbuilding/repair zone workers to demonstrate on ThursdayWorkers in the shipbuilding and repair zone in Perama will hold a protest demonstration on Thursday evening at Korai Square in Piraeus.
The workers are protesting against planned privatisations of Greek ports and demanding that Greek shipyards pass into state control and, together with the zone itself, to operate under a 100 percent state agency.
Dockworkers will also hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday that has been called by the employees of the public utilities and organisations (DEKO) and public sector enterprises.
The dockworkers will hold a second 24-hour strike on Friday, in protest of further privatisation of the Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP) and other ports, with a demonstration planned at 11:00 a.m. outside the employment ministry.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Workers of Greece's Ports (OMYLE), in an open letter to the prime minister, the leaders of the political parties and the country's MPs, warned that prospective materialisation of the government's announced plans for privatisation of the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki would be a "scandal with political and criminal dimensions".
OMYLE further said that it will escalate its mobilisations.
The federation, in the letter, noted that, under a special law, the state is required to always retain 51 percent of the share capital of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Ports (OLP and OLTH, respectively), while care is also taken for the tenure of all the workers.
In the event of the sale of 75 percent of the share capital in OLP that the Greek state currently holds, the state would be selling out a state authority to a foreign investor, an unprecedented policy Europe-wide
.OMYLE said that the sale of the state's holdings in OLP would bring in approximately 270 million euros, whereas the annual profits of OLP is around 30 million euros, wile 390 million euros in investments that have been made in the period 2002-2010 were with the organisation's own funds.
Further, sale of the state's holdings in OLTH would generate 103.5 million euros, when OLTH's reserves currently stand at 75 million euros and its profits are on a constant rise, standing at approximately 20 million euros annually.
 Business Briefs-- A deep economic recession in the country directly hit corporate profits last year, an ICAP Group survey showed on Tuesday.
The analysis, based on the balance sheets published by 4,065 companies, of which 923 industrial, 1,111 commercial, 248 construction, 347 tourism and 1,433 services enterprises, confirmed that profitability of companies in the private sector was directly affected by an economic crisis.
-- Greek-listed enterprises with strong export activities reported improved results in the first quarter of 2011, despite a deep economic recession in the country.
Motor Oil topped the list of the first quarter's best performers, with strong exports and sales to the shipping sector significantly boosting profits and sales. The company reported profits of 62.4 million euros in the January-March period, up from 12.5 million euros last year, while turnover rose 12.88 pct to 1.82 billion euros.
-- The government on Tuesday launched lowest-bid tenders to build marinas in the ports of Marathokampos and Volissos, on the eastern Aegean islands of Samos and Hios, respectively, as part of a strategy to improve marinas facilities and attract more sea tourism in the country.
-- The Hellenic Horse Racing Organisation, the operator of the sole horse racing track in Greece, on Tuesday reported lower revenues and losses for 2010.
Gross revenues fell to 194.35 million euros, down from 261.23 million euros in 2009, for a decline of 25.6 pct.
 Stocks end plunge on TuesdayStocks came under strong pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,300 level again. The index ended at 1,297.05 points, losing 1.98 pct, reflecting losses in bank shares and OTE. Turnover was a low 71.879 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 2.55 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.12 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 1.37 pct.
Coca-Cola 3E (1.69 pct) and PPC (0.10 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while OTE (6.24 pct), Eurobank (5.37 pct), Hellenic Postbank (4.56 pct), Cyprus Bank (4.44 pct) and National Bank (4.09 pct) were top losers.
The Food sector was the only one to move higher (1.58 pct), while Telecoms (6.24 pct), Health (5.76 pct) and Banks (3.68 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 90 to 34 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Koumbas Holdings (11.11 pct), Mohlos (10 pct), Boutaris (10 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Publications (18 pct), NEL (11.11 pct) and Lambrakis Press (8.70 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.75%
Personal & Household: -1.97%
Raw Materials: -2.39%
Travel & Leisure: -0.70%
Food & Beverages: +1.58%
Financial Services: -0.93%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, EXAE and HBC Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.78
HBC Coca Cola: 18.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.90
National Bank of Greece: 4.92
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.17
Bank of Piraeus: 1.06
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 12.75 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market, from 12.79 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 15.83 pct and the German Bund 3.08 pct. Turnover in the market remained a low 12 million euros, all sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 10 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged.
The 12-month rate was 2.14 pct, the six-month rate 1.72 pct, the three-month rate 1.44 pct and the one-month rate 1.22 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.51 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to 37.350 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,777 contracts worth 28.622 million euros, with 34,378 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,910 contracts worth 8.728 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,939), followed by Eurobank (1,019), MIG (944), OTE (2,057), Piraeus Bank (1,007), Alpha Bank (1,940), Marfin Popular Bank (668), Cyprus Bank (856) and ATEbank (5,329).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.487
Pound sterling 0.905
Danish kroner 7.568
Swedish kroner 9.143
Japanese yen 119.31
Swiss franc 1.242
Norwegian kroner 7.957
Canadian dollar 1.451
Australian dollar 1.390
 Shocking figures on theft of official documents used in migrant legalisation processThe theft of official documents used in the migrant legalisation process is a phenomenon that has taken on shocking dimensions, according to figures forwarded to Parliament on Tuesday by the government. Most of the documents have been stolen from immigration offices in regional authorities or municipalities.
The relevant figures were presented in response to a tabled question by opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) MPs Thanassis Plevris and Adonis Georgiadis, who charged that based on available information the theft of such documents were on the rise in 2010.
Deputy Interior Minister Theodora Tzakri said roughly 70,000 official documents used in the migrant legalisation process have been stolen since Jan. 1, 2006, when Law No. 3386/05 on "the entry, residence and social integration of third country nationals in Greece" was put into effect.
The deputy minister underlined that in the majority of the cases, local mayors are reluctant to proceed with disciplinary action and avoid ordering a special inquiry into the circumstances under which the documents disappeared. As a result no investigation on possible wrongdoing on behalf of local government employees is feasible, the deputy minister stressed.
Referring to the year 2010, in particular, Tzakri stressed that a large number of official documents were stolen from the Attiki Prefecture Regional Authority Immigration Office and from South Evros Immigration Office.
However, Tzakri stressed that despite the large number of documents stolen only a fraction of them have been used, thanks to the effectiveness of the "police on line" system that can identify any falsified official documents used at the country's entry gates.
 Teenage cracker arrested for cyber attacks on Interpol, US government websitesAn 18-year-old hacker wanted since Feb. 24, 2008 by international law enforcement agencies for cracking Interpol and US government websites and engaging in "digital vandalism", was arrested by Attiki electronic crime squad officers, it was announced on Tuesday.
The teenage electronics genius cracked the Interpol website in Lyon, France, in Feb. 2008 and a year later he targeted the US government website destroying archives and other highly important files.
The French and American authorities notified the Greek electronic crime squad, which in turn was able to track the electronic traces of a Greek internet user who was just 16 years old at the time of the cyber attacks.
A police search in the house of the suspect conducted on Monday in the presence of a prosecutor revealed incriminating evidence proving that the 18-year-old is the owner of the server involved in the 2008 and 2009 cyber attacks in France and the United States. According to police, the cracker was impossible to trace due to special software he had created using BOTNETS, also known as "zombie army".
The special committee against the financing of terrorism was also notified after the police search revealed a homemade explosive device, two knives, two air guns, a police ID card that was reported lost, a number of cartridges and a gas mask, among others. A total of 130 credit cards were also found, five of which were loaded with encoded information that did not belong to the suspect.
 3 foreign nationals in custody for murder of elderly man on CreteFive of six individuals arrested for the murder of a 97-year-old retired police officer two weeks ago in a village near Iraklio, Crete, were remanded in custody pending trial, it was announced on Tuesday.
Three Syrian nationals, all in their 20s, were charged with homicide and robbery, while two local men are accused of being the masterminds behind the crime. The latter two together with another Syrian man are also accused of being accessories to the crime. Finally, an Albanian national was accused of illegal weapons possession.
A local woman was also implicated in the incident.
 Terrorist case defendant faces drug trafficking chargesOne of the defendants in the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" terrorist group case was arrested in the Korydallos Prison courtroom while passing on a small quantity of drugs to one of his co-defendants, it was announced on Tuesday.
Errikos Rallis, who is not in custody while on trial, was arrested while handing over the drugs to his co-defendant Alexandros Mitrousias, who is incarcerated.
Rallis will be charged with drug trafficking in prison facilities.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 35C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 33C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 31C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe disagreements during an informal Cabinet meeting on the mid-term programme and the possibility of a referendum, salary cutbacks in the public sector and tax increases, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The 'distance' between Greece and China becomes smaller".
AVGHI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou in state of panic, plays dangerous game".
AVRIANI: "The MPs who really disagree with the government's handling should resign".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They're blaming each other for the failure".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "30 percent cuts in lump sum retirement benefit".
ESTIA: "Absurdities with taxation".
ETHNOS: "Objections over layoffs in public sector and tax-free ceiling reduction".
IMERISSIA: "Nine-hour thriller in the Cabinet - Disagreements and, at the end, agreement".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Referendum dilemma and revision of measures".
KATHIMERINI: "Papandreou obsessed with referendum".
RIZOSPASTIS: "All join in the general strike against the imposition of the horrific measures".
TA NEA: "George (Papandreou) seeking support".
VRADYNI: "Major cuts in specialised aids for the disabled".
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