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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-10-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 27 October 2011 Issue No: 3918
 PM Papandreou says now is the time for an end to uncertainty and the crisisBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Prime Minister George Papandreou, arriving at the EU summit here on Wednesday evening, said that the challenge of the present summit is for the euro to be saved and the common ideals in Europe to be consolidated.
Speaking to reporters, the prime minister said "the challenge we are facing today is not only to save the euro, but to safeguard the ideals that we share in Europe: Peace and cooperation, social cohesion and solidarity without prerequisites between our peoples."
"On our part, the Greek people are making a superhuman effort for order to be put in our home, to make our economy reliable, viable and prosperous, to create a better future for our country. Now is the time for the European leadership collectively to take decisions to put an end to the uncertainty, to put an end to the crisis and to turn a page with the aim of a better future for Europe."
 ND blames poor gov't handling for developments in debt crisisMain opposition New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Mihe-akis on Wednesday said that the government's mistaken handling of events had led to the latest developments in Brussels concerning the management of Greece's debt crisis. He urged the prime minister to not accept any concession of national sovereignty.
"The things now taking place in the absence of the prime minister are those things that the government had proclaimed it wanted to avoid when it accepted a succession of packages of painful measures. We are waiting to see whether the lightening of the debt will at least return us to where we were (in terms of debt and interest) in 2009 before all the sacrifices had begun. We are also waiting to see how the liquidity of our economy and our social insurance funds will be ensured," he added.
Mihelakis stressed that ND expected the government to "defend the dignity of the Greeks and to not accept any discussion of conceding our national sovereignty".
 LAOS leader: 'Haircut tantamount to return to drachma'A debt haircut of 60 percent will have the same impact as a return to the drachma, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said in statements to state-run ERA radio on Wednesday.
"If we returned to the drachma we would face an uphill climb of maybe 10 years. A 60 percent haircut will mean the same misery. This is what Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos does not want to admit," he said.
Karatzaferis attacked Prime Minister George Papandreou, saying that he had "given all he had to give" and did not inspire confidence that he could lead the country out of its current spiral..
 Reichenbach on EU task force's role in GreeceThe head of the European Commission's task force in Greece Horst Reichenbach stressed in statements to reporters on Wednesday that his mission was to provide technical assistance to Greece's government, not to dictate or approve its policies.
"I neither co-sign nor ratify the decisions of ministers. I am here at the request of the Greek prime minister to the European Commission to contribute technically to implementing the programme," he stressed.
He said his team's mission was to listen to the plans of the ministers, ask in what way it might assist and provide the organisational help requested to Greek authorities.
"What is most important is that good cooperation has been created with the Greek authorities, we provide the technical suppoort and every effort is being made for the implementation by Greece of the medium-term programme to be supported," he said.
Reichenbach noted as the "most important" need, Grece's return to a growth and competitive orbit. For this reason, as he said, horizontal structural reforms are needed.
As regards energy, Reichenbach said that since in the projects for the utilisation of solar energy cooperation is required with other partners, the task force's intervention is in the direction of seeking potential associates.
On the question of structural funds, he said that there are difficulties of two types: the limited resources of the national contribution and the limited liquidity of the Greek banks. As regards the first the Commission has proposed -and is already in the process of the agreement's completion- the decrease of the Greek contribution by 5 per cent and the implementation of the measure with a retroactive validity. As regards the second problem what is being examined is "the creation of the possibility of funding small and medium-size enterprises with an amount of 500 million euros, which will be given as a guarantee by the European Investments Bank and will provide the necessary liquidity to the Greek banks to enable them to loan small and medium-size enterprises."
Responding to questions, Reichenbach said: "The Greek prime minister requested from the Commission its assistance. We are here because our assistance was requested in the deepening of the reforms that the Greek government wants to do. We are hearing from the ministers what they want to do and we ask them where we can help them. The ministers are very well prepared and we organise the assistance that is pointed out to us by the Greek authorities."
 Chinese officials visit CreteThe visiting Chinese delegation headed by National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Chairman Jia Qinglin on Wednesday arrived in the city of Iraklion, on the southern Aegean island of Crete.
The Chinese officials were received at "Nikos Kazantzakis" International Airport by local authorities and a representative of the Greek parliament.
The Chinese delegation visited the archaeological site of Knossos and in the afternoon will tour the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion.
Later this evening, the Chinese officials will host a special event in honor of the local authorities that participated in the operation for the repatriation of thousands of Chinese nationals who had fled riot-torn Libya last spring.
 Ministers booed during Thessaloniki Liberation celebrationsThe normally stately three-day rituals for 'OXI' day and Thessaloniki's liberation from Ottoman rule got off to a rowdy start on Wednesday. Angry crowds shouting anti-government protests gathered outside the city's St. Demetrios cathedral during the celebration mass marking the 99th anniversary since the city's liberation and honouring its patron saint, booing at ministers representing the government and shouting abuse at the officials present.
Representing the government were National Defence Minister Panos Beglitis and Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yiannis Magriotis, the leadership of the armed forces, MPs, party leaders, local government officials and former Greek president Christos Sartzetakis.
 Defence minister Beglitis on the angry reactions by protesters in ThessalonikiDefence Minister Panos Beglitis on Wednesday commented on the jeering by angry anti-government protesters gathered outside St. Demetrios cathedral in Thessaloniki during a mass held on the occasion of the city's patron saint feast.
In statements he made during his visit to Nea Santa Army Camp in Kilkis, northern Greece, Beglitis said that he was aware that he would become the target of protesters in Thessaloniki, adding that "we are going through difficult times as a country but we should realize that we are all responsible for its future."
Beglitis said "the country will have no future unless we take serious and painful measures," and will be isolated at "the fringes of Europe and the greater region faced with even greater risks."
The defence minister said that he has "no problem with the people's protests because he is a politician and a part of society".
 Green Fund programmes at 400 million following 5 pct ceiling on fund's spendingGreece's environment ministry on Wednesday announced plans to invest 400 million euros from the "Green Fund" in 2011-2014 on improving the urban environment through parks and refurbishing buildings, as well as action to prevent forest fires.
Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou said the 'Green Fund' currently has one billion euro in its coffers, a sum expected to reach 1.6 billion euro by the end of the year, chiefly due to funds raised through measures to legalise buildings erected without planning permission.
He explained that based on a law recently passed by Parliament, the fund's spending could not exceed 5 percent of its reserves, while the remaining 95 percent could either remain in the fund's reserves or could be made available to the regular state budget through a joint ministerial decision.
Asked whether this might lead to measures for semi-open spaces or unauthorised buildings being judged unconstitutional because the revenues were being spent to cover deficits rather than on the environment, the minister said that the Council of State took into account the country's economic state and would uphold the laws.
Of the 400 million euros to be spent until 2014, 200 million euro will go to the "Urban Renewal" programme for improving buildings in rundown inner city residential districts, declining former industrial zones within cities and districts suffering from social, economic or environmental degradation.
These will include the creation of common spaces such playgrounds, improvements to pavements, cycle lanes and building refurbishment, such as the reclamation of the abandoned Omonia hotel for use as a student hall of residence.
Another 45 million euro will go on work for the prevention of forest fires and another 100 million to create open spaces within cities, compensating owners for real estate to be converted into public land.
The fund has already earmarked 36 million euro for expropriations of land in Rendi, central Athens, Egaleo, Koropi, Agious Anargyrous, Kamatero, Peristeri, Alimos, Nea Ionia, Haidari and outside Athens in Kalamata, Kastoria, Kavala, Menemeni and Tripolis.
A further one million euro will be spent to support protected areas such as national parks, forests and lakes.
 Survey records hurdles in business activityConstant changes and the lack of a stable tax, labor and social insurance status, combined with high tax rates, is the number one problem in promoting business activity in the country, a survey by Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) said on Wednesday.
The survey was conducted in the period 3-24 October using a sample of 1,104 enterprises. Commenting on the survey, EBEA's president Constantinos Mihalos, said: "The business world seeks a stable economic environment to be able to safely program its activities in the future. It is obvious that a cut in tax rates is needed, but also to put an end to austerity policies undermining market sentiment".
An 82 pct of respondents said high tax rates, high social insurance contributions and other duties are greatly inflating their total expenses, cutting their profit margins and undermining business activity, the survey said.
The payroll cost is considered a "medium importance" problem by the majority of respondents, while responses for cost of commercial rents were evenly spread across the spectrum from minor to highly important, whereas hurdles in accessing local, national or community funding programs was a very significant problem for a majority of respondents. Lack of liquidity in the market was acknowledged as a problem undermining the viability of enterprises as the banking system cut its funding source because of an economic crisis in the country.
The survey said that bureaucracy was seen as a very significant problem by the majority of enterprises and called for actions to simplify procedures in transactions between enterprises and the public sector. Corruption was another "very significant" problem in transactions between the private and public sectors, the survey said, adding that tax evasion, smuggling and informal trade were also cited as "very significant problems".
The survey noted that delays in promoting a privatization program and opening up so-called closed professions were additional causes of concern in business activity in the country. EBEA said reduced purchasing power of consumers was also a very significant problem in their operations.
 Greek trade balance deficit rises 0.4pct in August, but down 26.6pct in 8-month periodGreece's trade balance deficit, excluding oil products, increased by 0.4 percent in August against the corresponding month in 2010, after several months of decline, but dropped 26.6 percent in the eight-month period of January-August over the same period last year, according to provisional figures released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Wednesday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that the deficit of the Trade Balance, excluding oil products, for the 8-month period from January to August 2011 amounted to 11332.8 million euros (15824.7 million dollars) in comparison with 15441.3 million euros (20288.5 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2010, recording a drop, in euros, of 26.6%.
The total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, in August 2011 amounted to 2368.6 million euros (3387.1 million dollars) in comparison with 2334.6 million euros (3001.6 million dollars) in August 2010, recording an increase, in euros, of 1.5%.
The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, in August 2011 amounted to 1098.4 million euros (1580.1 million dollars) in comparison with 1069.8 million euros (1383.6 million dollars) in August 2010, recording an increase, in euros, of 2.7%.
The deficit of the trade balance, excluding oil products, in August 2011 amounted to 1270.2 million euros (1807.0 million dollars) in comparison with 1264.8 million euros (1618.0 million dollars) in August 2010, recording an increase, in euros, of 0.4%.
The total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, for the 8-month period from January to August 2011 amounted to 21571.0 million euros (30318.8 million dollars) in comparison with 24630.7 million euros (32387.1 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2010, recording an increase, in euros, of 12.4%.
The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, for the 8-month period from January to August 2011 amounted to 10238.2 million euros (14494.1 million dollars) in comparison with 9189.4 million euros (12098.6 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2010, recording an increase, in euros, of 11.4%.
 Greek banks offering high interest rates to retain depositsGreek banks are offering higher interests rates of up to 4.8 pct for time deposits and other similar products in an effort to attract back customers and stop a trend of shrinking savings accounts recorded as a result of the economic crisis.
Banks are offering interest rates of up to 4.80 pct for savings accounts of more than 5,000 euros corresponding to annual interest of roughly 220 euros. The lowest interest rates are just over 1 pct.
For savings accounts with more than 25,000 euros, interest rates can reach 5 pct corresponding to annual interest of 1,200 euros. The interest rates offered by different banks range from 2 pct to 5 pct.
Bank customers should pay a special attention to the annual interest rate offered considering that in certain instances banks offer high interest rates in the last quarter of a 12-month deposit in an effort to attract customers. The average yield of the product is much smaller after calculating the interest rates offered in the rest of the year.
Bankers confirm that savings deposits are absolutely safe regardless of the size of the "haircut" that will be decided for the Greek debt.
 Cutbacks of 27 million euros to parliament budgetThe cutbacks in the parliament's budget will amount to 27 million euros in the fiscal year 2012, according to a statement issued on Wednesday by parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos.
A relevant draft law, to be submitted on Thursday to the parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs and be discussed next week, provides for up to 170.972 million euros in credit, reduced by 27 million euros compared to 2011.
A total of 70 pct of the cutbacks correspond to reductions in MP and parliament personnel spending and 30 pct to reductions in operating expenses (transport, public relations, procure-ents, leasing, etc.)
The cutbacks meet the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy goal for the years 2013 -2015.
 GenSec for sports meets with visiting South Australia MPSports tourism was the main topic under discussion in Wednesday's meeting between Greece's general secretary for sports Panos Bitsaxis with visiting Liberal party MP in the state of South Australia Terry Stevens, a shadow minister for sports, recreation, tourism and gambling.
They also discussed a number of sports issues with a special emphasis on cricket and the ongoing cooperation between the Hellenic Cricket Federation and the Greek-Australian community.
 Greek stocks end 2.35 pct higherGreek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, as investors bet on the most favourable scenario coming from an EU Summit in Brussels later in the day. Domestic investors reappeared in the market late in the session, while foreign investors remained on the sidelines. Investors discounted a haircut of around 50 pct on Greek debt while they were encouraged by speculation that a recapitalization of Greek banks could be made using preferred and not ordinary shares.
The composite index of the market rose 2.35 pct to end at 773.81 points, with turnover remaining a low 41.154 million euros. The Big Cap index jumped 2.90 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.73 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.97 pct.
Marfin Popular Bank (3.68 pct), Cyprus Bank (0.95 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end lower, while Hellenic Postbank (9.71 pct), National Bank (8.43 pct), Eurobank (6.93 pct) and OPAP (5.74 pct) were top blue chip gainers.
The Commerce (5.72 pct), Travel (5.37 pct) and Banks (3.86 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 104 to 59 with another 21 issues unchanged. Xylemporia (30 pct), Spider (27.52 pct) and Nexans (21.62 pct) were top gainers, while Moda Bagno (29.17 pct), Ilyda (24.75 pct) and Akritas (20.97 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.44%
Personal & Household: +1.57%
Raw Materials: +0.46%
Travel & Leisure: +5.37%
Food & Beverages: +0.93%
Financial Services: +1.56%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.04
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.05
HBC Coca Cola: 13.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.36
National Bank of Greece: 1.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.71
Bank of Piraeus: 0.25
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds remained unchanged at 15.99 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.02 pct and the German Bund 2.03 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.12 pct, the six-month rate was 1.78 pct, the three-month rate 1.58 pct and the one-month rate 1.36 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 2.0 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 17.371 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,419 contracts worth 10.967 million euros, with 21,009 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 39,355 contracts worth 6.404 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (22,817), followed by Eurobank (1,899), OPAP (783), Piraeus Bank (1,394), Alpha Bank (7,629), Cyprus Bank (939), ATEbank (1,513) and Mytilineos (396).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.413
Pound sterling 0.884
Danish kroner 7.556
Swedish kroner 9.233
Japanese yen 107.26
Swiss franc 1.237
Norwegian kroner 7.795
Canadian dollar 1.432
Australian dollar 1.362
 Greeks needing food aid on the rise, Doctors of the World reportHunger is increasingly becoming a problem among poor Greek households, with more and more families unable to make ends meet, the Greek branch of the humanitarian aid organisation 'Doctors of the World' warned in a press conference on Wednesday.
It said volunteer doctors working at the organisation's four health centres in Athens, Perama, Thessaloniki and Hania were reporting an increase in the number of Greeks seeking their aid and also a rise in those asking for food.
"The number of Greeks seeking medical attention from us has shot up from 6-7 percent last year to 30 percent this year, out of a total of 30,000 people seen in the past year. They are elderly people, those on small pensions, young unemployed, people with chronic diseases who come in great anxiety, often with a hospital prescription in hand, because they are unable to pay for their contribution. What shocked us most, however, is that many now ask us for food," said a representative of DoW.
The aid organisation announced its decision to launch a new campaign for food that will culminate at Christmas, with a tree built out of tins of condensed milk in Kotzia Square in central Athens.
"For us poverty has a face. It is up to us not to allow the winter of 2012 to be a killer winter," DoW representatives stressed.
They noted that the drastic reduction in funds to the public sector due to cuts and the private sector due to the economic crisis had greatly increased DoW's need for funding to buy antibiotics, medical supplies, antipyretics and also vaccines for children, warning that the rising number of households without insurance increased the spectre that virtually 'forgotten' diseases might return to Greece.
 Migrant smuggler arrested in Evros, 7 non-legal migrants interceptedA 37-year-old Turkish migrant smuggler was arrested and seven illegal migrants were detained on Wednesday in the Lavara region of Evros Riiver, which marks the Greek-Turkish border.
The arrest of the smuggler also averted the smuggling into Greece of another 20 illegal migrants who were waiting for him on the opposite Turkish coast to be transported to Greece, according to police.
The Turkish migrant smuggler, who has a file with the Greek police on older migrant running charges, will appear before a prosecutor in nearby Orestiada.
A total of 190 migrant smuggles have been arrested in the region since the beginning of the year.
 Thessaloniki police catch gang suspected of Aridaia heistThessaloniki police on Wednesday announced the dismantling of a five-member gang suspected of a series of armed robberies in northern Greece over the past 11 months, including the attack on the Aridaia Post Office chief last December.
During simultaneous police operations in Thessaloniki and Pella, police arrested two 27-year-old Greeks believed to be the gang leaders, as well as two Greeks suspected of peripheral involvement, aged 24 and 35 years old, respectively.
A fifth Greek man is being sought for involvement with the gang's activities.
Police believe the gang was behind the hold-up of the Aridaia post office chief as he was taking 56,000 euro to deposit in the local bank branch. The proceeds from the robberies were 'laundered' through the purchase of cars and other assets.
During the raids on three homes belonging to the suspects, police discovered a Makarov gun with 20 cartridges, a replica pistol, two hunting knives, two walkie-talkies and four private cars. One home also had a greenhouse in the back garden with eight cannabis plants that were uprooted.
 EU reverts to winter time on SundayGreece and the entire EU return to winter time on Sunday, when clocks at 4:00 a.m. will turn back one hour to 3:00 a.m.
Winter time will revert back to summer time on the last Sunday of March 2012.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 22C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 5-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 18C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 16C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe final negotiations on the Greek debt 'haircut' at Wednesday's crucial EU Summit, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government playing hide and seek with snap elections".
AVGHI: "Haircut with 'plaster' for the next twenty years".
AVRIANI: "Rating firms bankrupting Greece".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Layoffs in ministries via the abolition of organic positions".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Bras de fer with bankruptcy".
ESTIA: "The culmination of the failure".
ETHNOS: "Euro 'dizziness' from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's vetoes".
IMERISSIA: "EU summit at risk of turning into a fiasco".
KATHIMERINI: "Everything open up to the final hour".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Final negotiations on the Greek haircut".
RIZOSPASTIS: "State and plutocracy should pay for the loss".
TA NEA: "Dramatic bargaining over the haircut".
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