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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-08-31

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 31 August 2011 Issue No: 3877

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM meets with producer classes ahead of TIF; statements by representatives
  • [02] PM chairs PASOK political council meeting
  • [03] Greek, Turkish PMs discuss int'l developments
  • [04] Turkish Dep. PM in Kavala
  • [05] Meeting between FinMin, 'troika' reps postponed
  • [06] FinMin calls for opposition assistance to exit crisis; meeting with Samaras
  • [07] Meeting at Foreign ministry on Greek entrepreneurial activity in Libya
  • [08] Troika reps briefed by minister on public sector reforms
  • [09] LAOS: All political forces must 'pull the cart' together
  • [10] LAOS tables question on attempts to 'turkify' Thrace
  • [11] Tender for financial adviser in privatisation of ELPE
  • [12] Merchant fleet down 3.8pct in June
  • [13] Federation of restaurateurs calls for VAT payment suspension
  • [14] NBG releases H1 results
  • [15] Profit-taking on Tues. deflates historic gains from a day earlier
  • [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [17] Four stabbed, two in critical condition, after attack on PAO fan club in Petralona
  • [18] Man wanted for child porn on Kos
  • [19] Ferry docked after engine trouble
  • [20] Foreign national arrested with 51 kilos of cannabis
  • [21] Hortiatis massacre anniversary this week
  • [22] Fair on Wednesday
  • [23] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

  • [01] PM meets with producer classes ahead of TIF; statements by representatives

    A meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou with representatives of social partners and producer groups was concluded on Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.

    No less than 10 relevant ministers also attended the meeting.

    According to reports, representatives of various groups detailed the dire economic situation at present, mostly noting that a punishing recession continues to worsen.

    Objections were aired over the way a liberalisation of so-called "closed professions" is proceeding, while criticism of VAT rates in the food & beverage sector was also reported.

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos was quoted as saying that the implementation of major reforms is a "painful ordeal for the majority of society, it undoubtedly has a great political and social cost, but the cost for all of us will be nightmarishly bigger if the effort fails."

    Daskalopoulos assessed that the political system "is showing recently to be trying to gain political time..."

    The president of the Central Union of Chambers, George Kassimatis, said that "certainly the picture of the economy is gloomy; the crisis is deepening and the margins for change ... structural changes, as well as taxation and fiscal issues, are minimal."

    The new president of the civil servants union (ADEDY), Costas Tsikrikas, said his group has expressed its intense opposition to significant pay cuts against civil servants, which he said approach 40 percent.

    GSEBEE president Dimitris Asimakopoulos charged that "on the issue of VAT that we raised there was no response by the finance minister, while the prime minister also backed Mr. Venizelos' stance."

    ESEE president Vassilis Korkidis said "we called for a stop of the 'attack' on low and medium-level entrepreneurship; a stop to the annihilation of the middle class ... we know that taxes and death will always exist, but it is not essential for taxes to cause the economic death of the low and middle classes in Greece."

    He further said that "the prime minister told us that we are absolutely right, but that simply there are certain commitments that we must observe."

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) president Yiannis Panagopoulos said "the representatives of the employers' organisations, apart from their demands, must not forget that tax evasion, tax theft, the lack of resources emanate from them, although they are also the only ones who have not paid for the crisis ... we stressed that the sector of salaried employment, pensioners and the unemployed have reached their limits."

    Finally, SETE president Andreas Andrianos said that "with the latest data of August, and despite the problems due to strikes, tourism is presenting a positive side ... we are being led to a year in which an all-time record will be set, with 16.5 million arrivals within the year."

    [02] PM chairs PASOK political council meeting

    A meeting of ruling PASOK party's political council began early Tuesday evening under the chairmanship of Prime Minister and party leader George Papandreou, at the party's head office in central Athens.

    The focus of the meeting is the course and directions being followed by PASOK and the finalisation of proposals in light of a national conference scheduled on Saturday.

    Participating in the meeting is government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Regional Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, Public Administration Minister Dimitris Reppas and the secretary of PASOK's Parliamentary group, Vassilis Exarchos.

    [03] Greek, Turkish PMs discuss int'l developments

    Greek prime minister George Papandreou telephoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday evening to convey his best wishes for the end of the Ramadan period.

    The two prime ministers discussed international developments, with the focus on the wider region and more particularly the latest developments in Libya and Syria, on which the stressed the need for democratisation of those two countries.

    Papandreou also expressed his satisfaction with Erdogan's recent decision on minority properties, which he described as positive, while the Turkish premier briefed his Greek counterpart in detail on the decision.

    The two premiers further agreed reschedule in the near future the second meeting of the Greece-Turkey Higher Cooperation Council, which had been originally scheduled to take place in June but was postponed due to elections in Turkey.

    [04] Turkish Dep. PM in Kavala

    Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, accompanied by his wife and other relatives, arrived in the northeastern port city of Kavala on Tuesday, the third stop of his private visit to the eastern Macedonia and Thrace provinces.

    In brief statements to reporters, Babacan said he is visiting Kavala for the first time within the framework of a late August vacation, which this year corresponds with a Muslim religious holiday.

    [05] Meeting between FinMin, 'troika' reps postponed

    A meeting between government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos with the high-ranking representatives of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", due to take place at the finance ministry on Tuesday evening, has been postponed due to scheduling difficulties, according to reports.

    [06] FinMin calls for opposition assistance to exit crisis; meeting with Samaras

    Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos called for the assistance of opposition to bring the country out of the ongoing crisis, speaking after a meeting with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday at the latter's office.

    "There are always many and fertile fields in which there is a convergence of views," the government vice president and finance minister said, adding that "everything depends on the frank, honest and open cooperation between government and opposition".

    "We are open -- and I want to hope that this is also the position of the main opposition -- to a nationally responsible stance, which is the basis for consensus. We are not managing a party cause but a very big national crisis that demands rallying together, with honest cooperation of all the forces," Venizelos said.

    The 70-minute meeting, which Venizelos had requested on Monday, took place between the two leaders only, without any associates present.

    ND sources said only that Venizelos briefed the main opposition leader on all the economic matters concerning Greece, without Samaras taking any positions.

    Venizelos said he and Samaras had an "extensive and substantive" discussion "in a very good climate and on all the issues".

    The finance minister said he has asked to brief the opposition on the discussions with the EC-ECB-IMF troika and the country's macroeconomic matters and fiscal targets, on the immediate priorities and the execution of the budget, as well as the privatisations, the new taxation system, the new civil servants' salary scale and the reserve labor.

    Specifically, regarding the taxation system, Venizelos said a field of consensus was opening up so that there may be a uniform national taxation system, clarifying that discussion will take place in the relevant parliamentary committee.

    Earlier, Venizelos met at the ministry with Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos and representatives of major domestic banks.

    The meeting focused on the issue of liquidity in the domestic economy and developments in the banking system.

    Reactions

    Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) assessed that "consensus between PASOK and New Democracy, which existed on all basic issues, is developing, deepening and becoming more aggressive towards the people," commenting on Tuesday's meeting between ND leader Antonis Samaras and Venizelos.

    KKE stresses that "in the new tax raid against working people and low and medium levels they agree as well, so that the tax exemptions will become bigger for the big businessmen, as well as on the implementation of the anti-labour measures of the memorandum and the medium-term programme."

    The Coalition of the Left (SYN) assessed that Tuesday's meeting between Venizelos and Samaras aims at the creation of a climate of consensus, adding that their target is also the joint management of the crisis and social bankruptcy, which is being produced by the policy of the memorandum and the medium-term programme.

    The party stressed that "realising the rapid decrease in citizens' confidence towards them, which they consider, justifiably, responsible for the present deadlocks, the government and ND are seeking formulas of joint governance and the manipulation of the swelling social displeasure and popular protest."

    [07] Meeting at Foreign ministry on Greek entrepreneurial activity in Libya

    Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis and Deputy Minister Dimitris Dollis will be holding a meeting at the Foreign ministry on Wednesday morning, focusing on an assessment of Greek entrepreneurial activity in Libya on the new scene being shaped in the country, while shortly afterwards Lambrinidis will be briefing the cabinet meeting on developments in Libya.

    The meeting, to be attended by representatives of 11 Greek companies (that are already active in Libya in the construction and energy sectors), as well as representatives of the Greek-Arab Chamber of Commerce, will be taking place on the eve of Prime Minister George Papandreou's visit to Paris (on September 1-2) for the sessions of the Contact Group for Libya.

    [08] Troika reps briefed by minister on public sector reforms

    Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas met on Monday with visiting EC-ECB-IMF "troika" representatives.

    Reppas presented reforms that have taken place in Greece's cavernous public sector to date, as well as the ministry's priorities and measures taken to drastically reduce spending.

    [09] LAOS: All political forces must 'pull the cart' together

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday called on all the political forces of Greece to "pull the cart" together, in a radio interview.

    Speaking on private Real FM radio station, Karatzaferis said that if 3-4 political leaders, representing all the trends in the Greek parliament, appeared together in Europe "to press for the Greek positions, they would take us seriously in consideration".

    At the least, he added, "we must stop bickering amongst ourselves".

    Karatzaferis said that he was not opposed to the prospect of early general elections if agreement could not be reached among the political forces, opining that in such an eventuality his LAOS party would double its strength, while he also criticised prime minister and ruling PASOK leader George Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras of "trying to beat each other with just half a percentage point".

    "We need to all pull the cart together. This childishness, hysteria, represents no one," he stressed.

    [10] LAOS tables question on attempts to 'turkify' Thrace

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday tabled a current question in parliament, addressed to prime minister George Papandreou, charging "constant provocations by Turkey and attempts to 'turkify' Thrace".

    Karatzaferis further charged an absence of substantive reaction by the Greek side, and asks to learn whether the government was concerned by those developments and what it intends to do about them.

    Financial News

    [11] Tender for financial adviser in privatisation of ELPE

    The Greek finance ministry on Tuesday announced an international tender for the immediate hiring of a financial adviser for the full privatisation of Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (ELPE).

    The ministry on Tuesday uploaded on its website a "Request for Proposals for the selection of Financial Adviser in relation to Hellenic Petroleum S.A."

    According to the Request, the Greek state is considering "the appointment of one or more leading investment banks to act as its financial adviser(s) for the assessment of the best available options for the privatization of its holding in HELLENIC PETROLEUM S.A.".

    As at August 26, 2011, the Hellenic Republic holds 35.48% of the Company's share capital, 41.85% belongs to Paneuropean Oil and Industrial Holdings S.A. and the rest is free floated. ELPE's shares are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. In May 2003, the Hellenic Republic and Paneuropean entered into a shareholders agreement according to which both shareholders have pre-emption right in case any of them decide to sell all or part of their stake.

    The Hellenic Republic's objective is to fully privatize ELPE through the sale of all or part of its stake in the Company.

    ELPE is one of the leading energy groups in Greece and South East Europe as it owns and operates four oil refineries in Aspropyrgos, Elefsina and Thessaloniki in Greece and the sole refinery in Skopje, FYROM. The Company's domestic marketing activities are performed through its fully-owned subsidiaries EKO and Hellenic Fuels (former BP Hellas) and their extensive retail network throughout Greece. Furthermore, the Company is one of the key fuel players in Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, FYROM, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Georgia through its retail petrol stations network. ELPE is the sole petrochemicals producer in Greece with operations integrated in its refineries. In addition, the Company owns a 35% stake in Greece's incumbent gas company, DEPA, which is the main natural gas importer and wholesale supplier in the country.

    Under the selection procedure set out, the award will proceed in accordance with Law 3049/2002 after a negotiation of the offers with a maximum of three (3) participants.

    The applications must be submitted at the latest by September 7, 2011, 17:00 Athens time, irrespectively of the way of submission.

    [12] Merchant fleet down 3.8pct in June

    The Greek merchant marine fleet fell by 3.8 pct in June this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after an increase of 0.5 pct recorded in June 2010 over June 2009, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the country's merchant marine fleet totaled 2,046 ships with a capacity of 43,085,641 dwt, down 0.3 pct compared with the same month in 2010 and against a 4.1 percent rise in the same comparison for 2010 against 2009.

    [13] Federation of restaurateurs calls for VAT payment suspension

    An urgently held assembly of the national federation of restaurateurs on Tuesday called on members to suspend payments to the state until the lifting of a government decision to slap the 23-percent VAT rate in the food and beverages sector.

    The representatives of the sector also decided to proceed with protests on the sidelines of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair.

    Restaurant owners, apart from opposition to the measure, called for the sector to be included in the lowest VAT rate, 6.5 percent.

    [14] NBG releases H1 results

    The National Bank of Greece (NBG) on Tuesday released first half results, noting that group net profit totalled ? 29 million.

    In a press release, NBG said that "excluding impairment losses on GGBs, prompted by the PSI initiative (? 1,339 million after tax), compared with profit of ? 146 million in H1.10, due to the persistence of high provisions, which amounted to ? 822 million (up by +27 percent yoy), as well as the exceptionally adverse economic climate in Greece."

    According the bank, "...In this extremely stressed period, the NBG Group succeeded in growing net income and keeping its capital base robust (Tier I CAD ratio: 11.2 percent), while fortifying its balance sheet with higher provisions.

    "At the same time, operating expenses declined by -3 percent (yoy) at Group level, mainly due to the drastic reduction in operating costs in Greece (down -10 percent yoy), as well as in SE Europe1 (down -4 percent yoy).

    "In the first half of the year the NBG Group, although impacted by the decline in deposits, which intensified in Greece during Q2.11, nevertheless managed to increase its market share of savings deposits to 34.1 percent and sustain its market share of time deposits at 15.3 percent in Greece. It is noteworthy that, after the EU summit on July 21, domestic deposits have gradually rebounded, fully reversing the decline suffered in the first weeks of July.

    "... Turkey saw a significant increase in deposits (up +14 percent since end-2010) while SE Europe also posted an improvement (up +2 percent since the beginning of the year). The Group' s loan-to-deposit ratio stood at the healthy level of 110 percent, while the ratio for Greece stood at 104 percent."

    Write-downs

    In terms of write-downs, NBG said that "the Q2 results were burdened by write-downs of ? 1,645 million before tax (? 1,339 after tax) in the value of Greek Government bonds held by the Bank. This provision derives from the PSI initiative, as described in the terms and conditions stated in the expression of interest dated 25/08/2011. Before performing the write-downs, the book value of the bonds held by NBG and eligible for inclusion in the bond swap plan amounted to ? 9 billion."

    [15] Profit-taking on Tues. deflates historic gains from a day earlier

    Profit-taking a day after a historic 14.37-percent surge in shares on Monday led to a 4.82-percent drop on Tuesday, with the general price index again under the 1,000-point threshold, closing at 958.12.

    Most shares also mostly declined following the previous session's record-breaking increases, due to the announcement of the Alpha Bank-Eurobank merger deal. Eurobank's share price, for instance, lost 13.84 percent in the day's trading, while heavily traded National Bank lost 6.13 percent.

    Turnover was an improved 126.77 million euros.

    The Big Cap index posted a decrease of 5.49 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 5.71 pct lower and the Small Cap index was down 1.80 pct.

    Only the Trade sector posted gains (1.65 pct), while Financial Services (-9.22), Raw Materials (-8.88) and Healthcare (-8.48 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Broadly, advancers trailed decliners by 50 to 114 with another 25 issues remained unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.38%

    Industrials: -4.24%

    Commercial: +1.65%

    Construction: -4.49%

    Media: Unchanged

    Oil & Gas: -0.24%

    Personal & Household: -3.91%

    Raw Materials: -8.88%

    Travel & Leisure: -5.03%

    Technology: -2.60%

    Telecoms: -6.46%

    Banks: -6.76%

    Food & Beverages: -2.00%

    Health: -8.48%

    Utilities: -8.37%

    Chemicals: -3.62%

    Financial Services: -9.22%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 2.51

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.21

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.66

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.81

    National Bank of Greece: 3.37

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.93

    OPAP: 8.65

    OTE: 4.20

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.76

    Titan: 13.57

    [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.461

    Pound sterling 0.896

    Danish kroner 7.563

    Swedish kroner 9.327

    Japanese yen 112.21

    Swiss franc 1.201

    Norwegian kroner 7.888

    Canadian dollar 1.431

    Australian dollar 1.373

    General News

    [17] Four stabbed, two in critical condition, after attack on PAO fan club in Petralona

    Four people were stabbed, and two of them were hospitalised in critical condition, after a group of some 100 youths on motorcycles attacked a Panathinaikos Athens soccer club fan club on Saturday night in the Petralona district of Athens.

    Eyewitnesses said that the motorcyclists attacked the PAO fan club and clashes ensued, while damage was caused to several nearby parked cars.

    Four people were taken to Evangelismos Hospital in downtown Athens with stab wounds, two of which were reported in critical condition due to stab wounds in the chest and stomach.

    [18] Man wanted for child porn on Kos

    A 49-year-old man was wanted by police on the island of Kos for possession of child pornography material, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Police, in the context of a child pornography investigation, searched the man's residence, in the presence of a prosecutor, and found and confiscated a PC, four hard disc drives, 220 discs and a video camera with six videotapes containing pornographic material.

    A case file was drafted against the man, who was wanted, and submitted to the local prosecutor.

    [19] Ferry docked after engine trouble

    The car/passenger ferry SPEEDRUNNER III remained docked in the port of Piraeus on Tuesday after engine trouble was observed while the vessel was preparing to set sail for the Syros-Tinos-Mykonos route, with 98 passengers on board.

    The passengers were transferred to other ferries by the owner company.

    [20] Foreign national arrested with 51 kilos of cannabis

    Igoumenitsa police drug squad officers on Tuesday arrested a 24-year-old Albanian national in Kotsikas, Thesprotia prefecture, after more than 51 kilos of cannabis were found in his possession.

    Police found and confiscated two travel bags containing a total of 51.52 kilos of cannabis and arrested the man, while two more Albanians were wanted for complicity in the transport of the narcotic substance.

    The detainee will be taken before an Igoumenitsa prosecutor.

    [21] Hortiatis massacre anniversary this week

    Sixty-seven years since the Hortiatis massacre, outside Thessaloniki during WWII, the municipality of Pylea-Hortiatis will organise three-day events from Wednesday to Friday.

    The events will include a bicycle "peace race" and a concert by the municipal Philharmonic on Wednesday; a memorial service at the location of the massacre, as well as a meeting of the network of Martyred Villages and Cities of Greece. On Friday, a religious service and memorial service will be held.

    Weather Forecast

    [22] Fair on Wednesday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 34C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 33C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 21C to 30C.

    [23] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The pending merger of Athens-listed Eurobank and Alpha Bank and its anticipated impact on the economy, and cuts in civil servants' salaries were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "ND: No to co-governance with PASOK".

    AVGHI: "The universities safeguard the Constitution".

    AVRIANI: "Businessmen salvaging the economy, which all the post-dictatorship governments sank with their criminal policies".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Megaton gaffe by Venizelos (economy minister)".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They blew away the impeccability of the university entrance exams with the new system for special category candidates".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Home, work, brought down the university base entry grades".

    ESTIA: "The Alpha Bank-Eurobank merger".

    ETHNOS: "Collapse of base entry grades in all university Schools".

    IMERISSIA: "Merger: Vote of confidence"

    KATHIMERINI: "The banking map changing".

    LOGOS: "Banking colossal with support from Qatar".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The big merger brought stockmarket surge".

    NIKI: "Civil service salaries: Who will lose 960 euros a year and how".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Struggle for better tomorrow for the children of the everyday family".

    TA NEA: "Public sector: Double blow to civil servants' salaries".

    VRADYNI: "Arrangement for OEK (Labor Housing Organisation) mortgage loans".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS


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