|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-10-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 5 October 2011 Issue No: 3907
 Greece will fully honor all its obligations, FinMin saysGreek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday offered reassurances that the state will honor its obligations in paying wages and pensions provided that citizens were consistent in paying their taxes and that the state machine will rise to the occasion.
Speaking to reporters, presenting the results of a Eurogroup meeting on Monday, the Greek minister said: "Greece will meet all its obligations from bond maturity, wages, pensions, benefits and subsidies," adding that "in order to have a state budget, citizens must pay their taxes. Imagine what could have happened if people did not pay their taxes".
Venizelos said the country's cash reserves were adequate until mid-November and stressed that no more measures were needed as long as we are consistent, organized and systematic. He noted that talks with the troika had covered the release of a sixth tranche of a loan to Greece, revising a medium-term program and other structural issues, such as labor market, opening up of closed professions, cutting spending in social policy, public administration and justice.
The Greek minister acknowledged there have been delays in promoting structural changes and referred to the "illusion of a higher living standard" for which the political world had the greatest responsibility.
Venizelos also referred to the paradox of Greek society, saying that the vast majority of citizens were against the current status of civil servants, but at the same time the people were reacting to any moves towards changes. "We must decide on what we want in this country. How we will go on," he said, strongly criticizing the main opposition leader Antonis Samaras over his stance so far.
The Greek minister said that there was never a decision for a Eurogroup meeting for October 13 to decide on the release of the sixth tranche of a loan to Greece, but only views over the issue and noted that Monday's marathon Eurogroup meeting agreed on three things: the banking system and depositors were fully guaranteed in Greece and Europe, Greece will always be a part of the Euro currency and there was not talk of a Greek default.
Venizelos said Finland will receive guarantees from Greece in the form of Greek state bonds worth 880 million euros to the benefit of Greek banks. Commenting on progress of a Greek bond swap program (PSI), Venizelos said the government has received the official responses by foreign finance ministries and was currently evaluating them. "The July 21st decision is of great importance for Greece. It's the best we could have. There cannot be anything less than what the deal envisages," he noted.
The Finance minister reiterated that under the 2012 draft budget plan, Greece will have a primary budget surplus of 3.2 billion euros in 2012.
 FinMin: 'No prospect of Greek default'Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos ruled out any prospect of a Greek default, and urged public administration functionaries and the public to make every effort to ensure that this year's fiscal targets are met, addressing a noon-day press conference on Tuesday, adding that the measures announced by the Greek government were deemed "impressive" and no issue was put forward for yet more measures during Monday's eurogroup meeting in Brussels.
"I urge the (Greek) society and public administration" to do their best, Venizelos said, in an indirect but clear reference to the regular and extraordinary tax obligations of the citizens and the efficiency of the civil servants.
"The issue is not the 6th tranche (of the EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece), but the implementation of much more important decisions by 2014,? Venizelos said at the beginning of the press conference. "The issue at hand is to convince the markets that we have a viable solution," he added.
The government vice president and finance minister also assured that there is no problem with the country's cash reserves up until mid-November, echoing earlier reassurances by Greek General State Accounts Office sources that the country's cash reserves were adequate to cover the country's fiscal needs up until mid-November, at which time a decision is expected for the disbursement of the 8 million euros sixth tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece.
It is noted that a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday announced that the decision for the disbursement of the 6th tranche will be taken in November, given that a European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika progress report on the Greek economy will be submitted at that time.
Venizelos noted that the Eurogroup met on Monday to discuss the Greek situation "in a friendly way, and not against Greece".
"In less than two years, Greece has presented an impressive fiscal adjustment. They all respect the effort being made by the Greek people," he said, adding that the measures announced by the Greek government were deemed impressive and "there was acceptance of the measures by everyone".
"No one put forward an issue of new measures. The measures that have been announced must be ratified and consistently applied," Venizelos continued.
"The issue at hand is to implement the measures that have been announced, and they must be implemented," he said, and severely criticised the opposition parties, noting that "many know that there is no other solution, but they are demagogically toying with other solutions"..
Venizelos further assured that bank deposits in Greece are secure. One of the basic messages of Monday's eurogroup meeting is that "no other depositor is as secure as the European depositor, and particularly the Greek depositor", he added.
The finance minister also assured that there is no issue of a prospective default. "No prospect of default," he stressed.
Continuing, Venizelos urged implementation of a second support package for Greece, as decided at a July 21 eurozone summit, as a necessary condition for halting the recession in Greece.
"We need measures to halt recession," he said, warning that the deepening recession in Greece cannot be halted without the implementation of the new support programme and improvement of liquidity to households and businesses.
General State Accounts Office sources assure Greek cash reserves adequate to cover fiscal needs til 6th tranche of EU-IMF bailout loan is disbursed
Sources at Greece's General State Accounts Office on Tuesday assured that the country's cash reserves were adequate to cover the country's fiscal needs up until mid-November, at which time a decision is expected for the disbursement of the 8 million euros sixth tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece.
It is noted that a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday announced that the decision for the disbursement of the 6th tranche will be taken in November, given that a European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika progress report on the Greek economy will be submitted at that time.
 PM Papandreou holds telephone conversation with German Chancellor MerkelGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou held a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, at the latter's initiative.
Acording to Greek government sources in Athens, Merkel did not announce anything new and the discussion between the two leaders focused on developments in the European Union and the eurozone, as well as the course of the European economy.
Also discussed, according to the same sources, were the results of Monday's Eurogroup session, as well as the course of the implementation of decisions taken on July 21 by a Eurozone summit.
The German chancellor wanted to have a picture of the situation in Greece, in light of the contacts that she is having with various leaders, as well as the meeting she will be having over the weekend with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
On his part, the Greek prime minister reiterated the government's determination to promote necessary changes and fulfill the commitments that the country has undertaken.
 PM Papandreou holds meeting with PASOK deputiesPrime Minister George Papandreou met in his office in Parliament on Tuesday with PASOK party deputies from the regions of Western Macedonia and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, stressing that "the courageous stance of the Parliamentary Group does not support the government only, but the efforts for the country's salvation."
During the four-hour discussion, the deputies conveyed, according to reports, to the prime minister the "inflexible limits of their endurances and of those of society regarding the ratification of the new economic measures".
As deputies said, Papandreou shared the grave climate prevailing in society, however he pointed out that "the salvation of the country is above all and the sacrifices are taking place for this reason."
An extensive discussion took place on the developmental possibilities of each region and the priorities that must be set in road and infrastructures projects.
 PM urges financial crimes police: 'Let no one off'Prime minister George Papandreou urged the Greek Police financial and electronic crimes squads to "let no one off", during a visit to the General Police Headquarters (GADA) on Tuesday morning, where he was briefed by the squad on its activities, and congratulated the staff on its efforts, saying its successes reflect the efforts being made by Greece, "particularly now when the entire world is watching the effort of the Greek people to put the country in order".
"Let no one off, that is the sentiment of justice demanded by the citizens," Papandreou said, adding that the Greek people are paying the price for the lack of transparency, the corruption, unlawfulness and injustice "which, if they had not become inflated, today we would not have any debts".
The premier stressed that the economy needs to be put on the proper foundations.
He said that the squad, selected on merit, has proven to be a dynamic that has noting to envy of the corresponding squads in other countries and praised its spirit of innovation, noting that the members are trained professionals in the economic sciences and information technology.
The squads have been operating as an autonomous directorate with the Greek Police (ELAS) since August this year.
Briefing the premier, the chief of the economic crimes squad Adamantios Stamatakis said that in its two months of operation, the new directorate has conducted a plethora of investigations and has drawn up 107 case files, noting that financial crimes, such as smuggling and the black economy are crimes against the state itself.
As for the electronic crimes squad, squad chief Manolis Sfakianakis said it held one of the top places in uncovering and prosecuting child pornography cases, adding that since August the team has also aerted 286 suicides.
 Troika demand for abolition of National Collective Labour Agreement spurs flurry of criticismThe Greek government on Tuesday acknowledged that the EU-IMF 'troika' has urged abolition of National Collective Labour Agreement, which establishes a minimum salary, and that the move took them by surprise, while the demand also drew a flurry of reactions and criticism.
Employment and social security ministry secretary genera for social security Athena Dretta said on private radio that "the demand took us by surprise", explaining that a relevant e-mail arrived at the minister's office on Sunday night "informing us of this development", which she said had not come up in the discussions with the troika.
According to Dretta, the exact wording was "you should encourage the commencement of dialogue among the social partners", explaining how the issue of abolition of the national collective labour agreement was put forward.
Speaking on the same radio station, interior minister Haris Kastanidis warned that such a move would be in violation of Greece's constitution.
"We cannot violate the Constitution, we cannot proceed with a violation of democratic rights. Unfortunately, the troika is bringing for negotiation demands that are 'exported' from Greece by specific, non-political, quarters," Kastanidis said.
"If the troika is to ask for measures that reduce our standard of living to levels unprecedented for a European country, then we have no need of the lenders. We could turn to the Greek people -- and perhaps it is an idea that we should keep in mind -- and tell them clearly: 'Our revenues are 54 billion euros. Our expenditure should be the same, and not the 110 billion euros it is today. Therefore, we can proceed to expenditures equal to our revenues, and this means ridding ourselves of dependence on the lenders, but also realising that we ourselves have opted for a substantial decline in living standard'," Kastanidis said.
National Confederation of Greek Merchants (ESEE) president Vassilis Korkidis severely criticised both the government and the troika, warning that the latter's new demand would lead to full abolition of the Constitution.
He charged that any intention portending abolition of the collective labour agreements would turn the country many years back, to the 1960s decade, "to times that no Greek wishes to return to", and warned that if the Greek society goes bankrupt, then so will the state.
Korkidis accused the government of having chosen to concede "economic self-determination" and "production policy initiative" to the troika, and stressed that the Greek society will not concede its right to regulating its own affairs.
He said the Greek economy was in a process of heavy domestic devaluation, and "it is clear to everyone that domestic devaluation plays no role in the competitiveness of the Greek enterprises, given that the minimum monthly salary in Greece is far less than the minimum salaries in the richer EU member states".
"Let them decide, once and for all, whether, labour-wise, they classify us in the East or the Balkans, and whether they want us in Europe or not," Korkidis concluded.
Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos called the demand a "badly-staged play" through which transfer of the cost of the crisis to the shoulders of the employees in the private sector is being attempted.
He said that SEB has, all these years, actively proved its dedication to the institution of collective negotiations and the National Collective Labour Agreement, and charged that evoking an issue with the collective agreement is reminiscent of a badly-staged play through which those responsible for the crisis are attempting to once again pass off the cost of their own choices and handlings to the shoulders of those who are not to blame for the crisis, namely the private sector and its employees, who are being slowly but surely annihilated on the altar of preserving the clientele state.
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) president Yiannis Panagopoulos called the troika demand "provocative and brazen", charging that "they are demanding that we abolish the minimum protection enjoyed by young labourors, poor workers, and the people of toil", and urged the Greek government to "finally, for once, voice a strong, firm and brave 'no'."
He explained that this is the first time that the National Collective Labour Agreement had been brought into the discussions with the country's lenders, unlike the branch labour agreements, which the troika has repeatedly called for abolition of their extension.
According to sources, the issue will be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting, where final decisions are expected to be taken.
 Bar Associations to invoke Article 120 of Constitution against 'troika'Contacts by EC-ECB-IMF "troika" representatives had with the Greek judiciary are not constitutionally legitimate, according to a statement issued by the country's Bar Associations' coordinating committee, which held an extraordinary meeting in Athens on Tuesday.
Greek lawyers underlined that they oppose the attempted "legalisation" of the troika and did not rule out the likelihood in the future to invoke Article 120 of the Constitution, according to which "usurpation, in any way whatsoever, of popular sovereignty and of powers deriving there from shall be prosecuted upon restoration of the lawful authority; the limitation, from which punishment for the crime is barred, shall begin as of the restoration of lawful authority."
 ND opposes new salary cuts; strong criticism to government for second anniversary in officeThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday categorically rejected further salary cuts in the private sector, pointing out that such a move would have only negative consequences on society and the economy.
ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis underlined that the result of such a decision would be to push the country even deeper into the vicious circle the Greek economy is experiencing.
Mihelakis also accused the ruling PASOK party of attempting to put down the ND proposal for the renegotiation of the terms of the memorandum because the "government never negotiated about anything and accepted everything without objection."
Mihelakis made the comment in response to Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos' statement that "the ND leader now knows if he can negotiate with the troika". The statement was made after the meeting of ND leader Antonis Samaras with the representatives of the troika (EC-ECB-IMF).
ND also lashed out at the government criticizing it for its economic policy on the occasion of its second anniversary in office.
Referring to the Greek economy figures, ND economy sector deputy head Christos Staikouras stressed that "the economic situation has deteriorated in the past two years, recession has become deeper, unemployment has skyrocketed, there are no prospects for competitiveness, the psychology of entrepreneurs and households is at its lowest, privatizations are not being implemented, the competitiveness of the economy is dropping, while debt has inflated."
Staikouras underlined that "all forecasts made by the government were wrong" and pointed out that "failing to meet the goals set, leads to new measures that are unfair and ineffective." He also stressed that "the government has failed" and that "the economy is out of control".
 ND leader Samaras queries the premier on the increased crime rateMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday referred to rising crime rates and the insecurity experienced by citizens, coupled with the rapid increase in illegal migration.
In a question tabled in parliament and directed to the prime minister, Samaras stated that 'the crime rate in the country is on the rise", stressing that "the action of organized crime groups or individual criminals, has reached every corner of the country."
He underlined that "the situation in downtown Athens is out of control" pointing out that "drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal migrants and extortionists have made certain neighbourhoods inaccessible and very dangerous to citizens and unsuspecting tourists."
Samaras accused the government of not taking substantive measures against illegal migration and underlined that at the same time, the Greek Police is faced with heightened problems due to the declining personnel numbers as a result of retirements and the shortages in essential equipment and supplies.
 Gov't lacks will to tackle tax dodgers, Dem. Alliance assertsThe Democratic Alliance party on Tuesday accused the government of lacking the political will to fight tax evasion or deal with banks that were shielding clients suspected of tax evasion.
The party's claim was made following the revelation by a senior officer of the SDOE financial crimes squad on a morning television news programme that banks dragged their feet when asked to open the accounts of suspected tax evaders.
In its announcement, Democratic Alliance noted that out of 3,000 requests made to banks to provide the movement of accounts of suspected tax offenders, there had only been a positive response to 130 at a time when the country's survival was hanging by a thread. The party underlined that there could be no excuse for "providing indirect asylum to tax-evaders and time for funds to be smuggled abroad".
It also said this state of affairs raised serious questions about whether the government and finance minister really possessed the political will to fight tax evasion and the arbitrary practices of banks.
 Draft law on uniform pay scale to be tabled in parliament on ThursdayDeputy Interior Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos on Tuesday announced that the draft law on the uniform pay scale to be implemented in the public sector has been scheduled to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday.
Speaking to an Athens private radio, Koukoulopoulos clarified that the members of the judiciary, the military and the security forces will not be included in the uniform pay scale due to the 'special conditions' of the specific sectors.
 Sit-ins at several ministries in central AthensCivil servants early Tuesday staged sit-ins at several ministries in Athens, protesting against the government's measure of reserve labour and the new uniform civil service salary scale.
The sit-ins, at the development ministry, agricultural development ministry, culture and tourism ministry, employment and social security ministry and the ministry of finance, will continue on Wednesday, when the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) and General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), Greece's two largest umbrella federations representing the public and private sector, respectively, have called a 24-hour nationwide strike in the public sector and the so-called DEKO (public utilities and state organisations).
Another demonstration was staged at the education ministry, where a group of approximately 70 university students who are demanding that the new law on higher education reform be rescinded staged a blockade at dawn. The students also put up a large banner at the ministry entrance, and dispersed two hours later as ministry employees arrived for work. The education ministry employees are due to hold a general assembly on Tuesday to decide whether they, too, will stage a sit-in.
Meanwhile, a group of approximately 30 members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME labour organisation occupied employment and social security minister George Koutroumanis' office, demanding a meeting with the minister, while another 50 protestors blocked of the entrance to the ministry in downtown Athens. The demonstrators are protesting a prospective abolition of the National General Collective Labour Agreement.
The umbrella unions have also called another 24-hour strike for October 19.
 Bill on referendums ratified in principleThe Interior ministry's bill on the holding of referendums was ratified in principle with the votes of the government majority. All the opposition parties voted against it in principle, accusing the government of "communication games".
According to the bill, the result of a referendum on a ratified bill regulating a serious social issue, is binding if at least 50 percent of those registered in voting lists has participated in the voting. It is also anticipated that for a crucial national issue, the result of the referendum is binding if 40 percent participates.
A referendum for a national issue will be proclaimed with a presidential decree that will be countersigned by the ministerial council and for a ratified bill by the Parliament president.
 Cohn-Bendit urges lifting of bank privacy to catch untaxed cash from GreeceVIENNA (AMNA - D. Dimitrakoudis)
The head of the European Greens Daniel Cohn-Bendit has called for the lifting of bank privacy laws in Europe so as to track down "the 200 to 300 billion euro that are estimated to have been smuggled by Greeks abroad" and to fight tax evasion in Greece. The co-president of the European Greens-European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament made the statements during an interview broadcast by Austrian state radio on Tuesday.
The German politician stressed that Greece had to be helped and warned that Europe could not ask a country to do the impossible, to reduce its deficit from 10 percent to 6 percent in a year. He underlined that no country could achieve this, not even Germany, and said that negotiations with Greece should be realistic so that the reforms could be accepted by society.
He also emphasised the need for major changes, including a reduction of Greece's massive spending on defence relative to its GDP and a reduction in Greece's dependency on imported fossil fuels and greater use of solar energy.
 Deputy Justice Minister Petalotis meets Vietnamese counterpartDeputy Justice Minister George Petalotis met on Tuesday with his Vietnamese counterpart Deputy Justice Minister Nguyen Due Chinh and the large delegation accompanying him.
The meeting was held in the framework of bilateral contacts between the two sides, with the Vietnamese side being interested in the Greek judicial system and its possible applications in Vietnam.
During the discussion, according to a relevant announcement by the Justice ministry, Petalotis outlined the basic principles governing Greek Justice, mentioning characteristically the fact that "it constitutes the third strong pylon of democracy and it is very important that it functions in full independence from the other two, the legislative and executive powers", while he also referred at length to the legal professions and their way of functioning.
Lastly, the deputy Justice minister confirmed the will of the ministry's leadership to provide every possible assistance to the government of Vietnam, at both know-how level and in political structures.
 Holy Synod meeting focuses on economic crisis; support for municipal soup kitchenThe Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on Tuesday focused on the ongoing economic crisis plaguing the country, with consideration given to relief measures for people in need.
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece addressed the other Church leaders, referring to the finances of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece and to the economic problems faced by the country.
Meanwhile, on Monday, TT Hellenic Postbank executives visited the City of Athens reception and solidarity centre in the presence of Ieronymos, and presented a donation of 75,000 meals for the poor -- heeding a call by the Archdiocese through its NGO "Apostoli".
"Everybody united, the Church, organizations, ordinary citizens, we should help the people in need," the Archbishop stressed.
 24-hour strike at Agency on WednesdayThe Athens News Agency's (AMNA) online news and information services will not operate between 6 a.m. (04.00 GMT) on Wednesday and 6 a.m. on Thursday due to a nationwide strike, in which the Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) is participating. The Agency apologises for any inconvenience to its subscribers.
 Multinationals offer vote of confidence to Greek economyMultinational group executives on Tuesday offered a vote of confidence to the Greek economy expressing their intention to maintain their investments and to seek new investment activities in Greece, during an event organized by the Dutch-Hellenic Federation of Commerce and Industry in Athens.
A report by Boston Consulting Group, presented during the event, showed that Greece has significant competitive advantages and could become attractive despite problems with bureaucracy, the tax system and a lack of business flexibility and innovation facing the business activity in the country. Spyros Desyllas, chairman and chief executive of Elais-Unilever, addressing the event said the crisis has an expiry date and added that although more could have been done in the past few months, development moves have been made that have not been made for decades. Companies willing to invest in Greece will not come for a period of 2-3 years, but they are creating the necessary infrastructure for a multi-year activity, underling that "the crisis is an opportunity".
The rate of foreign direct investments to Greece in the period 2004-2010 accounted for 1.0 pct of GDP, down from an average 27 pct in the EU-27, 2.0 pct in Spain, Portugal and Italy and 8.1 pct in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria.
V. Antoniadis, chief executive of BCG, presented the examples of state which faced administrative problems but managed to overcome difficulties and to attract investments. He said that a tourism investment, worth 1.0 billion euros, in Prasonisi (Rhodes), including four and five star hotels, casino, conference centre, spa and sport facilities could create 4,000 job positions and a turnover of 200 million euros annually, or 0.1 pct of GDP, both during the construction and operation periods. "Maintaining existing foreign direct investments and attracting new ones is a one-way road for the recovery of the economy," Antoniadis said.
The survey by Boston Consulting Group recommended 20 changes towards creating a friendlier business environment, based on combating bureaucracy, flexibility in labour markets, swift judiciary procedures, improving tax collection, eliminating corruption, modernizing education systems (maritime education) and promoting cooperation and attracting foreign universities.
The survey said that Greece's competitive advantages were mainly in the fields of tourism, food and beverage industry, constructions, infrastructure, shipping, farming, healthcare, culture, education and renewable energy sources.
Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, addressing the event expressed his optimism that all administrative hurdles in business activity would be abolished by the end of the year and presented an agreement reached between the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and Greek authorities over promoting a series of actions aimed at boosting liquidity in the real economy.
The Dutch ambassador to Greece, Van Ray, expressed his government's commitment to support Greek efforts to revive its economy by offering expertise and know-how.
 IOBE says Greece needs 10-year development programThe Greek economy remains in an extremely crucial condition after the country entered a support mechanism in May 2010, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday.
IOBE said that although implementation of the 2010 treaty was generally successful, with the fiscal deficit cut by 5.0 pct of GDP and measures ensuring the sustainability of the social insurance system, developments this year were a cause of concern. The Institute stressed that achieving the Medium-Term program's targets was the safest way to lead Greece away from the zone of an uncontrolled default, which could dramatically lower the country's living standards and particularly hit lower incomes. These targets are feasible because the public sector enjoys underdeveloped assets, mainly property, of a greater value (as a percentage of GDP) compared with any other Eurozone state. These property assets could become a catalyst for lower the debt to GDP ratio and for economic growth by attracting domestic and foreign investors.
Also, recording primary budget surpluses between 3-4 pct of GDP were not something new to Greece, as they appeared again in the 1990s. Another positive factor was that Greece offers great investment opportunities (national roads, ports, marinas, airports, holiday homes, energy networks, renewable energy sources, minerals and the primary sector. The country also can speed up absorption of EU funds worth 15 billion euros, which combined with European Investment Bank funds could boost economic growth. IOBE stressed that deregulating the most closed economy of the OECD to competition forces and abolishing all counter-incentives to business activity and investments could create a growth dynamism and new job positions in the medium-term. Greece also has the unprecedented support of the Eurozone, the IMF and the ECB.
IOBE said the country needed a 10-year development program, to gradually cut its fiscal deficit below 2.0 pct of GDP by 2015 through cutting spending and the size of the state, lower payroll costs in the general government and limiting tax breaks and tax evasion.
The Institute also called for a wide-range program of privatizations and exploitation of the state property assets and said urgent measures were needed to boost liquidity in the economy and abolishing counter-incentives to business activity and investments.
 Moody's downgrades OTE, with negative outlookMoody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded to B2 from B1 the corporate family rating (CFR) of Hellenic Telecommunicaions Organisation S.A. (OTE).
The downgrade is based on Moody's increasing concerns related to the macroeconomic deterioration in Greece, recently revised lower GDP for this year and also for next year and the likely further negative effect of new austerity measures on consumer spending.
In Moody's view, this could further affect OTE's revenue trend and cash-flow generation though it believes management isc arefully adjusting its cost base.
 Greek SMEs sector shrinking, Commission reportThe number of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Greece is expected to decline by 3.3 pct this year, while their workforce is expected to fall by 2.8 pct in 2011, a report published by the European Commission said on Tuesday.
The Commission report also expects that added value from the operation of SMEs in the country will decline by 3.9 pct. The report showed that employment in small- and medium-sized enterprises fell 5.0 pct in the 2008-2010 period, while added value was down 3.8 pct over the same period.
The EU's executive arm said that SMEs account for 99.9 pct of total enterprises in Greece, contributing 71.7 pct of added value and accounted for 85.6 pct of employment in the private sector.
 Retail trade volume down 4.3pct in July yr/yrThe volume of Greek retail turnover declined by another 4.3 percent in July, year on year, according to figures released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that the Turnover Index in Retail Trade, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 2.7% in July 2011 compared with July 2010. The Volume Index in Retail Trade, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 2.5% in July 2011 compared with July 2010.
According to provisional results, the turnover index in retail trade at current prices, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 2.7% in July 2011 compared with July 2010. The Index in July 2010 recorded a decrease of 7.8% compared with July 2009.
The turnover index in retail trade, including automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 2.5% in July 2011 compared with July 2010. The Index in July 2010 recorded a decrease of 3.9% compared with July 2009.
The volume of retail trade (i.e. turnover in retail trade at constant prices), excluding automotive fuel, decreased by 2.5% in July 2011, compared with July 2010. The Index in July 2010 recorded a decrease of 10.0% compared with July 2009.
The retail trade volume index, including automotive fuel, decreased by 4.3% in July 2011 compared with July 2010. The Index in July 2010 recorded a decrease of 9.3% compared with July 2009.
 Business Briefs-- Greece is losing ground in the global competitiveness scale of the information technology industry although it maintained a dynamic position in the categories of legal framework and human resources, a report by Economist Intelligence Unit, announced by Business Software Alliance (BSA) on Tuesday.
-- The supermarket sector is resisting an economic crisis in Greece as the market reported positive turnover trends last year, a report by Direction Business Reports showed on Tuesday.
 Stocks plunge to 1993 levelsA sell-off in bank shares pushed the Athens Stock Exchange to its lowest levels since June 3, 1993, on Tuesday, amid a very negative climate prevailing in other international markets.
Worries over developments in the Greek debt crisis, such as leaving open the possibility for a revision of a Greek bond swap programme, combined with a decision to postpone a Eurogroup meeting scheduled for Oct. 13, thus delaying the release of a sixth tranche of a bailout loan to Greece, dampened sentiment on the market.
The composite index plunged 6.28 pct to end at 730.33 points, with turnover remaining a low 60.345 million euros.
The Big Cap index ended 7.61 pct down, the Mid Cap index fell 5.76 pct and the Small Cap index ended 5.52 pct lower.
Folli Follie was the only blue chip stock not to suffer losses (ending unchanged), while Piraeus Bank (18.18 pct), Hellenic Postbank (15.28 pct), National Bank (14.12 pct), OPAP (12.74 pct), Mytilineos (11.29 pct), Alpha Bank (9.84 pct) and Eurobank (9.41 pct) ended lower.
All sectors moved down, with Health (13.77 pct), Travel (12.34 pct) and Banks (10.77 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 121 to 18 with another 32 issues unchanged.
Medicon (9.80 pct), FHL Mermeren (9.69 pct) and Maillis (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Hatzioannou (20 pct), Elinoil (19.85 pct) and Haidemenos (19.74 pct) ended lower.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -4.68%
Personal & Household: -2.26%
Raw Materials: -9.65%
Travel & Leisure: -12.34%
Food & Beverages: -1.66%
Financial Services: -4.60%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.10
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.69
HBC Coca Cola: 13.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.49
National Bank of Greece: 2.19
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.77
Bank of Piraeus: 0.36
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 16.32 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market, from 16.06 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.02 pct and the German Bund 1.70 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 2.08 pct, the six-month rate 1.75 pct, the three-month rate 1.55 pct and the one-month rate 1.35 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.67 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising slightly to 19.771 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,556 contracts worth 12.696 million euros, with 22,298 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 35,871 contracts worth 7.075 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (16,245), followed by Eurobank (1,369), MIG (2,538), OTE (493), OPAP (1,009), Piraeus Bank (2,974), Alpha Bank (5,583), Marfin Popular bank (1,455), Mytilineos (600), Cyprus Bank (1,103), Hellenic Postbank (694) and GEK (324).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.337
Pound sterling 0.869
Danish kroner 7.554
Swedish kroner 9.300
Japanese yen 102.6
Swiss franc 1.235
Norwegian kroner 7.953
Canadian dollar 1.413
Australian dollar 1.419
 Public transport work stoppages on Wednesday; air traffic controllers' strikePublic transport workers in Athens will participate with work stoppages in Wednesday's 24-hour strike, called by the civil servants union federation ADEDY and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector.
The metro will not participate in the strike and will run according to schedule throughout the day. Buses will run as scheduled from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., trolleys from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., electric trains and the tram from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The public transport workers decided to participate in the industrial action with work stoppages in order to carry demonstrators wishing to take part in the protest rally to the centre of Athens.
Hellenic Railways (OSE) and Proastiakos trains will not run on Wednesday after a decision of the workers' federation to participate in the 24-hour strike.
All scheduled flights from and to Greek airports will not be carried out on Wednesday after the air traffic controllers' decision to participate in the industrial action.
 State hospital staff to strike on WednesdayDoctors, nurses and administrative staff in all Greek state hospitals will join a 24-hour strike on Wednesday called by the country's largest umbrella trade union groups, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY, so that all state hospitals will operate with a skeleton staff on that day.
 Courts shut on Wednesday due to strikeAll Greek courts will be shut on Wednesday due to a strike by court employees, who are participating in a 24-hour strike called by the country's largest umbrella trade union organisations, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) representing the private sector and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY.
Their court employees' union in an announcement on Tuesday stressed its opposition to the new ranks, wage scale and timetable for the public sector, the labour reserve measure and impoverishment of society. There will be a skeleton staff in courts, as in all court employee strikes.
 Museums, archaeological sites closed on WednesdayMuseums and archaeological sites throughout Greece will be closed on Wednesday as a result of the 24-hour strike called by the country's two largest umbrella trade union groups, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) representing the private sector and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY.
Museum and archaeological site guards in the Panhellenic Union of Employees for Guarding Antiquities will participate in the strike action, in protest against measures such as the labour reserve, public-sector dismissals, the new wage scale in the public sector.
 Ring of migrant traffickers busted in western GreeceA migrant-trafficking outfit using boats to smuggle migrants from Greece into Italy was uncovered by the Greek police and coast guard on Tuesday, leading to the arrest of four suspected migrant traffickers and 34 illegal migrants in Messolonghi.
Acting on a tip-off, police spotted a vessel in the region of Kryoneri that they considered a likely means for transporting migrants and started following it. At some point, they sighted four vehicles approaching the craft from the beach at Kryoneri carrying migrants, who later boarded the vessel.
As soon as the boat set sail, the coast guard stepped in and set up an operation to locate it. It was sighted a short while later by coast guard vessels from Patras and Messolonghi near the island Oxia and then led ashore and searched. On board, authorities found a 25-year-old Ukrainian captain, a 24-year-old Iraqi accomplice and 44 foreign nationals. Of these, 34 were arrested for illegal entry and residence in Greece.
A police investigation revealed that the 44 foreigners had been transported to Kryoneri from Athens in order to board a boat bound for Italy, each paying 2,500 euro for their passage.
In addition to the above, police working with the coast guard successfully intercepted 36 migrants on the Astakos-Mytikas road at Astakos in Aitoloakarnania. The migrants had been taken there in a freight truck from Athens, again in order to board a boat bound for Italy, this time paying the sum of 3,000 euro each.
The driver of the truck managed to get away and 15 of the 36 foreign nationals were arrested for illegal entry and residence in Greece.
All the migrants arrested are being held pending their deportation.
 100,000 euro taken in post office heistThree armed men held up a post office (ELTA) branch at Nea Kallikratia in Halkidiki on Tuesday, getting away with 100,000 euro. The culprits had concealed their faces and threatened staff with two Kalashnikov rifles and a gun, demanding that the branch manager hand over the money.
Afterward, they got into a car and drove off in an unknown direction.
An inquiry is being carried out by the Polygyros police station in Halkidiki.
 Another arrest of foreign national sought with European arrest warrantAnother Albanian national sought with a European arrest warrant was detected by police of the Kakavia customs service before entering Greece, on Tuesday. He is a 30-year-old for whom a European arrest warrant was pending by the Belgian authorities for attempted theft, the creation of a gang and the illegal use of a weapon, offences that were perpetrated in Belgium in 2010.
The arrested man will be led before a prosecutor in Ioannina, so that the procedure for his extradition to Belgium to begin.
 Fair on WednesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 29C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 27C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe draft 2012 budget tabled in parliament on Monday, the delay in the disbursement of the 8 billion euros sixth tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece, and the EU-IMF troika's recommendation for abolition of the national collective labour agreement were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Tax-frenzy with 19 measures".
AVGHI: "Solution from the Left for exiting the crisis".
AVRIANI: "The Memorandum has failed, default on the horizon".
DIMOKRATIA: "The government destroying the country - All that it agreed 'under the table' with the troika is coming to light".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The die has been cast for 'controlled' default".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The 6th tranche in limbo - Final blows to incomes, healthcare, labour".
ESTIA: "Property taxes being tripled".
ETHNOS: "Troika: Abolish the (collective labour) agreements, reduce the salaries".
IMERISSIA: "Shock measures for 11 billion euros - Salaries, real estate targeted - European Commission says they are not enough".
KATHIMERINI: "Extension of agonizing over the 6th tranche".
LOGOS: "Troika now targeting private sector, asks abolition of national collective labour agreement or reduction of minimum wages from employment and social security minister Koutroumanis".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Austerity without growth brought by new budget".
NIKIS: "How 12,000 public school teachers will be laid off".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Fight against layoffs in public sector".
TA NEA: "Troika to government: Reduce salaries in the private sector".
VRADYNI: "Real estate: The big looting".
 Christofias and Eroglu discuss procedural issuesNICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu discussed on Tuesday procedural matters in view of their meeting, in New York, with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon at the end of October.
In statements after their meeting, President Christofias said that "today we looked into procedural issues between now and 31st of October, when we are going to meet with the Secretary General."
Replying to questions, the President said things are proceeding normally for the New York meeting, noting that this is how things have been scheduled.
Asked about his expectations, he said he always wants to be optimistic.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded the island occupying 37% of its territory. UN led talks have been ongoing since September 2008 between the leaders of the two communities with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.
 Obama:We remain committed to a comprehensive solution in CyprusNICOSIA (CNAAMNA)
Washington remains committed to supporting a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem that will bring prosperity and security to future generations on the island, US President Barack Obama has said in a congratulatory letter to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
The letter was sent on the occasion of the 51st anniversary of Cyprus' independence on 1 October 2011.
"We look forward to the day that Cyprus is reunited as a bizonal, bicommunal federation", Obama noted and praised the bonds of friendship and common ideals that both the United States and Cyprus share.
Obama congratulated Christofias and the people of the Republic of Cyprus on the 51st anniversary of Cyprus' independence on October 1.
''For more than half a century, our countries have shared friendship and common ideals. The United States remains committed to supporting a comprehensive settlement that will bring prosperity and security to future generations in Cyprus. We look forward to the day that Cyprus is reunited as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. I wish you and the people of the Republic of Cyprus the very best on the anniversary of your independence", Obama said.
Cyprus became an independent state in 1960, after a four-year colonial rule against the British.
 President: We will scrutinize the report on Mari blastNICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)
President Demetris Christofias said Tuesady that the findings of a report by a government appointed Commission of Inquiry on a deadly blast, at a naval base last July, will be scrutinized.
He said that a police report into possible criminal offences relating to the same incident, which killed 13 people, injured dozens and badly damaged the island's main power plant, will also be studied very carefully.
The police report was handed earlier Tuesday to the Attorney General Petros Clerides while the findings of the Commission were made public on Monday.
The Commission report said that the President of the Republic bears "grave personal responsibilities" for the tragic blast. It also said that former ministers of defence and foreign affairs have serious responsibility, and noted that the Fire Service did not act when it should have done so, days prior to the explosion.
Following the publication of the report, President Christofias categorically rejected that he bears personal responsibility, adding that he will not resign.
Invited to comment on criticisms from political parties after his reaction to the Commission report, Christofias said that "I don't want to say anything more than what I said last (Monday) night. Polyviou's (head of the Commission) findings as well as the police report will be examined thoroughly. We remain calm and will wait until we look into the police report as well".
Thirteen people were killed and dozens were injured when a massive explosion occurred at the naval base, "Evangelos Florakis", near Limassol, on the southern coast, in the early hours of July 11th. The blast badly damaged the island's main power plant, at Vasiliko.
The blast occurred in containers, full of munitions, which Cyprus had confiscated from ''Monchegorsk'', a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009. Nicosia was acting in accordance with UN sanctions against Teheran.
 Primary findings on oil drilling, soon, Commerce Minister saysNICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Praxoulla Antoniadou on Tuesday said that if all goes well regarding the drilling for hydrocarbons in Cyprus' EEZ, the primary findings should be expected beginning of December.
Speaking to the press, Antoniadou said that the drill has so far reached 1.000 meters underneath the seabed, adding that the goal is to hit 4.000 meters.
She also explained that if the works go on "smoothly" and there is a positive outcome by the beginning of December, then there will be a second phase of assessment drilling, called "appraisal wells" in order to evaluate the quality and quantity of the reserves.
Invited to comment on reports that there might be richer reserves in other blocks in Cyprus' EEZ, Commerce Minister said that government holds discussions in a high political level and pursues its next steps, accordingly.
Replying to a question whether there were any complications concerning the drilling process due to the Turkish threats, Antoniadou said that the drilling runs smoothly, explaining that the past three days there have been some safety works but as of Wednesday the actual drilling process will continue.
Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf.
Drilling has already begun and is being carried out by Houston-based "Noble Energy", off Cyprus' south-eastern coast.
The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey's moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.
Nicosia has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
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