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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-08-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 23 August 2011 Issue No: 3870
 FinMin on exchange of bonds; VAT ratesGovernment Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday said the process of exchanging Greek bonds possessed by private investors is at an advanced stage, and is expected to be completed in the first two weeks of October.
Venizelos pointed out that implementation of the decisions of the July 21 Eurozone summit will change developments to the benefit of the Greek economy, while referring to the country's commitments regarding structural changes, he said they will take place normally without political costs taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, following a meeting with productive and social partners focusing on the tax system, Venizelos said discussions over tax rates is barren "if we do not solve the issue of a VAT collection mechanism."
Referring to increased VAT rates for restaurants, eateries and cafes as lf Sept. 1 -- from 13 percent to 23 percent -- he clarified that it is valid, but special care will be taken for tourism businesses.
"The economy and society cannot tolerate more fragmented arrangements and ineffective measures. The weak market can no longer respond to either normal or extraordinary tax measures that are being imposed without any limit," the president of the National Confederation of Trade, Vassilis Korkidis, said after the meeting with Venizelos.
Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Constantine Mihalos added that the government "must proceed with the complete overhaul of the country's tax system and enact a simple, stable, fair and development-based tax system ... as well as lifting a series of investment counter-incentives."
 ND spokesman on PM's upcoming visit to annual trade fairMain opposition New Democracy party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, commenting Monday on press claims concerning Prime Minister George Papandreou's address at next month's Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), said Thessaloniki is a destination the premier "wants to avoid".
Mihelakis said Thessaloniki "...only brings unpleasant memories to mind: He (Papandreou) promised there before the (2009) election that money exists (for state spending); he gave false promises to citizens there, claiming an exit from the crisis; he committed himself there to development projects that would change the city."
The ND spokesman also referred to a "collapsing government" that "views TIF as a nightmare."
 Troika technical staff in AthensThe latest visit by mid-level representatives of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" began on Monday for a review of the implementation of the recently passed Mid-term fiscal strategy programme.
A high-ranking troika delegation will arrive in Athens next Monday to examine progress of the Greek economy, ahead of the disbursement of a six instalment of a bailout package. The instalment totals eight billion euros.
Representatives are expected to focus mostly on the coure of the 2011 state budget, privatisations, the wider public sector's payroll and progress to reform the social security system.
 LA.O.S leader tables question on economy, deal with FinlandPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis on Monday reiterated his negative forecasts for the Greek economy, detailed in a tabled question in Parliament directed at Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Karatzaferis said that despite the government's denial, a new package of austerity measures is not out of the question.
Moreover, Karatzaferis stressed that the "European solution for Greece, agreed to last July ... remains vague". Finally, he asks whether an agreement with Finland will be extended and to Eurozone member-state lenders.
 Former top Simitis aide buried on Mon.Prime Minister George Papandreou and several cabinet ministers, former ministers and PASOK MPs attended the funeral on Monday of top political aide and writer Nikos Themelis, who died last Saturday at the age of 64.
Former prime minister Costas Simitis, in a eulogy, referred to his close associate and long-time chief of staff.
 Anti-Qaddafi protesters take over Libyan embassy in AthensA group of Libyan residents in Athens on Monday took over the North African country's embassy in the Greek capital, taking down the green flag characteristic of the Qaddafi regime and hoisting the tri-colour flag of the country's provision council.
Several protesters, holding anti-regime flags and chanting slogans against embattled Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, stormed the building earlier in the day. It is located in the Paleo Psychiko district, Athens' "diplomatic row".
The hereunto envoy of the Qaddafi regime was not in the embassy, reports state, while the Libyan charg? d'affaires did not attempt to block the protesters or call Greek authorities to remove them.
A total of roughly 25 people remained in the embassy by the mid afternoon.
 Condolences over death of Gythio fire brigade commanderPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed his condolences on Monday over the death of the commander of the Gythio fire brigade, Constantinos Kastris, who died in the line of duty the same day during an operation to extinguish a wildfire in the extreme southeastern Peloponese.
Papoulias referred to the self-sacrifice and the self-denial of the fire brigade officer, while he extended his sincere condolences to the family of Kastris and the fire brigade corps.
 PM Papandreou extends condolences over death of fire brigade officerPrime Minister George Papandreou on Monday expressed his sadness over the death of fire brigade officer Constantine Kastris during the operation to extinguish the fire at Vathy in Eastern Mani.
The prime minister said in a statement that "his sacrifice in a time of duty reminds us of our collective responsibility to protect our common heritage, the natural wealth of our country. May he be the last victim that we mourn in this effort" and extended his condolences to the family of the Fire Brigade's unfortunate officer.
 ADEDY president to resignThe head of the largest civil servants union (ADEDY), Spyros Papaspyros, on Monday confirmed that he will resign from the union's top spot, while again dismissing reports that he will vie for a deputy's seat in any upcoming general election.
 FinMin on Greek banking systemGovernment Vice President & Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, replying to a question on the issue of guarantees raised by Finland, reiterated on Monday "we want a solution to be found that will allow Finland to vote and to participate, but the major issue is for Eurozone relations with the markets not to be upset."
He also referred to the reliability and effectiveness of a programme concerning Greece.
In reply to a question on the possibility of one or more banks requesting help from a special liquidity mechanism, Venizelos stressed that the Greek banking system is safeguarded absolutely, both from the point of view of fluidity and capital adequacy.
"The Greek banking system is probably the safest in Europe and for this reason we discussed with the productive agencies as well the issue of the repatriation of deposits that have gone abroad," Venizelos said.
 Pending strike by customs, tax bureau employees union suspended?he union representing customs and tax bureau employees on Monday announced the suspension of a scheduled 48-hour strike on Aug. 23 and 24, following a same-day meeting with Alternate Finance Minister Pantelis Economou.
According to the union's announcement, Economou pledged that there will be no more cutbacks in the salaries of finance ministry-affiliated employees.
 Stocks lose 2.21 pct on Mon.Stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as investors mostly sold-off bank shares towards the end of the session, pushing the general index down 2.21 pct to close at 940.72.
Turnover remained low, totalling only 33.35 million euros, the lowest such figure for 2011.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.38 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.97 pct lower and the Small Cap index dropped 1.23 pct.
Personal Goods (4.78 pct) and Chemicals (1.00 pct) posted the only percentage gains of the day, while Insurances (-9.76 pct), Foodstuffs (-3.53 pct) and Banks (-3.47 pct) recorded the biggest losses of the day. Broadly, advancers trailed decliners by 52 to 89 with another 53 issues remained unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.83%
Personal & Household: +4.78%
Raw Materials: -1.56%
Travel & Leisure: -2.39%
Food & Beverages: -3.53%
Financial Services: -0.42%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.52
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.10
HBC Coca Cola: 14.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.33
National Bank of Greece: 3.55
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.15
Bank of Piraeus: 0.66
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.462
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.560
Swedish kroner 9.277
Japanese yen 112.31
Swiss franc 1.151
Norwegian kroner 7.953
Canadian dollar 1.440
Australian dollar 1.398
 Man charged with attempting to lure boys via a social network siteA 55 year-old man from Thessaloniki was charged on Monday with sexually harassing pre-teen boys via a social network.
The harassment was reported to police by the father of one of the boys reportedly contacted.
Electronic crime squad officers identified a suspect's digital traces. According to authorities the alleged perpetrator had attempted to lure at least 12 boys via the website.
 Heavy holiday traffic to and from greater Athens over weekendA large portion of the greater Athens area's summer holidaymakers apparently returned en masse over the weekend, the second to last in August. Conversely, departures from the main port of Piraeus were also significantly up during the same weekend.
Specifically, 91,379 passengers arrived in Piraeus and the eastern Attica port of Rafina, while 26 ferry boats carried a total of 48,643 passengers to island destinations between Friday and Sunday.
 Police intercept stolen truck carrying 19 illegalsA local man and an Iraqi national were arrested on Monday for transporting 19 illegal immigrants to a port in extreme northwest Greece in order to board an Italy-bound ferry with forged travel documents.
The illegals -- nine of from Bangladesh, four from Afghanistan, four from Pakistan, one from Burma and one from Iraq -- aimed to travel to Italy and then western Europe.
The driver attempted to avoid police by fleeing towards the city of Ioannina and driving in opposite traffic lanes. All of the occupants of the stolen truck carrying the illegals were arrested, while the local man was arrested in a separate vehicle and charged with acting as a look-out.
 Foreign jailbreaker arrested in IoanninaAn off-duty policeman rushing to the aid of a woman in Ioannina on Monday subsequently arrested a would-be purse-snatcher, who turned out to be 33-year-old Albanian fugitive.
Police also accused the man of breaking into a small church on the isle of Ioannina's lake days ago and removing 822 euros from collection boxes.
The man was wanted since May 2006 when he escaped from a prison farm near Hania, Crete.
 3 foreign nationals arrested for trafficking LSD? 39-year-old woman from Germany as well as two female companions, Danish and French nationals, 31 and 27, respectively, were arrested at the port of Alexandroupolis, NE Greece, on Monday after police found a large quantity of LSD-soaked papers in their vehicle.
The specific synthetic drug has been rarely detected in Greece previously.
According to authorities, 2,200 LSD-soaked papers were hidden in the car's floorboard. The German national was the car's driver.
 Armed robberiesThree armed robbers broke into a residence in the village of Korufassio, Messinia prefecture of southern Greece, threatening a a couple inside before robbing them and taking their vehicle.
The car was found later abandoned at a remote area.
In an unrelated incident, an unknown perpetrator shot and injured the 64-year-old owner of a betting parlour in the hand while she was leaving the business late Sunday in the summer resort of Loutraki, west of Athens.
Afterwards, the robbers took the victim's handbag with all the day's earnings and fled.
 Trio of Pakistanis charged with homicide, armed robberiesThree Pakistani men were charged with several counts of homicide on Monday, accused of a handful of murders and an attempted murder, with the victims all foreign nationals living in the greater Athens area.
Specifically, the trio was charged in the murder of a 31-year-old compatriot last April in Athens; the murder and attempted robbery of a 61-year-old Albanian kiosk employee and the murder of a 29-year-old Polish man.
They are also accused of the attempted murder and robbery of a 22-year-old Polish woman last month in the Patissia district of central Athens -- a district with a high concentration of foreign nationals in the Greek capital.
Another homicide case involves a 21-year-old Pakistani who was killed while working as a gas station attendant at the southern coastal district of Alimos.
Police found and confiscated a handgun, which is according to authorities, the murder weapon.
All three were sent before an Athens prosecutor.
 Wildfires in several parts of countryWildfires were reported on Monday in Gavrolimni, Nafpaktos district, near the central town of Domokos and in Parga, NW Greece. Fires are also continuing on Mykonos, Vathy in Laconia prefecture, and near the western towns of Messolonghi and Agrinio.
However, the wildfire that broke out earlier near Kranidi, NW Peloponnese, has been placed under partial control.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 18C and 37C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 5-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 24C to 35C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 23C to 33C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's economic policy and press speculation over changes in the higher education sector mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "How much taxpayers who have annual incomes over 12,000 euros will pay".
AVRIANI: "Heavy surcharge against one million self-employed professionals, farmers".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Prime Minister George Papandreou afraid of general outcry at Thessaloniki International Fair".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Entrance to universities from tertiary institutes and private colleges".
ESTIA: "Titanic is sinking - No hope for Greek economy".
ETHNOS: "New tax system for self-employed professionals and merchants".
IMERISSIA: "Decision on VAT decrease".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika (EC-IMF-ECB) battle starts on 10 open fronts".
TA NEA: "Public utilities and organisations: Who'll be included in reserve labour regime".
VRADYNI: "VAT and business profit tax decrease".
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