|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-11-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 18 November 2011 Issue No: 3936
 EU Task Force presents first report on GreeceBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)
A European Commission Task Force for Greece on Thursday presented its first report on the Greek economy. The report highlighted the huge challenges facing the Greek public administration which must be resolved within adverse conditions of a debt crisis and a deep economic recession.
Presenting the report, Horst Reichenbach, head of the Task Force, said a technical assistance to be offered to Greek authorities has two significant targets: returning to economic growth and contributing to the sustainability of Greek public debt. Reichenbach said the Greek state machine would need technical assistance offered by EU experts for a period of two to three years until the Greek public sector reached a satisfactory operating level.
The report stressed that the Task Force could help Greek authorities to respond to three pressing challenges: supporting growth, employment and competition, promoting growth through a reform of the public administration and sustaining progress towards fiscal consolidation. The report stressed that the main sectors needed technical assistance were tax administration, controlling public spending, reforming public administration, judicial reform, public procurement contracts, competition and privatizations.
Reichenbach underlined two large investment projects, which have been frozen because of problems related with funding or an economic recession in the country. One is a photovoltaic project called "Helios", with a budget of 20 billion euros and the other is five possible road work contract, worth 8.7 billion euros which could created 10,000 job positions and add around 1.5-2.0 pct to Greek Domestic Product.
On the occasion of the presentation of the first report, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said: "Fiscal consolidation should go hand in hand with the structural reforms needed to transform Greece's growth potential and generate the jobs its people so urgently need. We reiterate that our European Institutions will continue to do everything within their power to help Greece. The Task Force set up by the Commission has quickly established good cooperation with the Greek authorities to identify their priority needs. It has mobilised offers of technical assistance from many sides, thus demonstrating the unique European endeavour to support Greece in addressing its challenges."
Following a first request from the Greek authorities, the Task Force could immediately collect and coordinate substantial offers of assistance from Member States, Norway, the EIB, IMF, OECD and others. This support and commitment will need to be sustained over the duration of the adjustment process, as meaningful progress will require sustained ambition and commitment over a number of years and heavy investment of expertise in public sector reform.
The Task Force's first report sets out its work programme and first concrete achievements, notably in three priority areas:
? First, sustaining economic activity: Efforts have focussed on improving the planning and accelerating the disbursement of cohesion policy assistance. Particular attention is devoted to a number of delayed public works projects, capable of boosting investment and sustaining many jobs. Access to finance is also a growing concern for many Greek businesses. Part of the cohesion policy assistance is being redirected to support bank lending to SMEs.
? Second, ensuring efficient tax administration and sound public finance management: A stronger and fairer tax system will make a significant contribution to fiscal consolidation and social equity. A far-reaching programme of technical assistance has been launched to tackle shortcomings in the Greek system of tax administration and public finance management.
? Third, improving the efficiency of public administration: Excessive bureaucracy and administrative formalism chokes business, and hampers growth and job-creation. The Task Force is preparing a coherent programme of technical assistance that Greece needs to implement effective administrative reform; improve the business environment; increase efficiency in delivery of public health; and improve performance of basic administrative functions such as public procurement and payments.
Horst Reichenbach, Head of the Task Force for Greece, has now submitted the first quarterly report on its activities to President Barroso and the Greek government. It will also be made available to Member States and European Parliament. The focus now is on finalising, with the Greek authorities, a comprehensive road-map of technical assistance. In a number of priority areas such as tax administration and administrative reform, the report shows how work is already moving into the implementation phase.
Commision Vice-President and commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, who supervises the work of the Task Force, welcomed the first report, underlining that "the Task Force is a tool at the disposal of the Greek government. Its success depends on the determination of the Greek authorities to use it to support the transformation of the Greek economy."
 Troika reps set to arrive in Athens on FridayRepresentatives of the EC-ECB-IMF 'troika', Poul Thomsen, Mattias Mors and Klaus Masuch, are scheduled to arrive in Athens on Friday for talks with the Greek government over a revised Memorandum and a loan package for Greece, totaling 130 billion euros.
The representatives are expected to meet on Friday with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, while in the coming days they are also expected to meet with new Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
The contacts will also focus on the draft budget for 2012, which will be tabled in Parliament on Friday by the finance minister.
 PM Papademos to chair cabinet meeting on Friday morningPrime Minister Lucas Papademos will chair a cabinet meeting at 9:30 in the morning on Friday. The meeting will focus, according to reports, on the ratification of the state budget for 2012 which is then expected to be tabled in Parliament.
 Papademos-Juncker meeting on TuesdayGreek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will travel to Luxembourg on Tuesday, where he will meet with Eurozone president Jean-Claude Juncker.
 Commemoration of 38th anniversary of Polytechnic students' uprising culminates on ThursdayThree-day events commemorating the 38th anniversary of the November 17, 1973 Polytechnic students' uprising that led to the collapse of the 7-year military dictatorship in Greece culminated on Thursday, as officials and the public continued laying wreaths and placing flowers at the Polytechnic monument.
The gates of the Polytechnic, which opened to the public on Tuesday at the commencement of the memorial events, closed shortly after noon on Thursday, as people gathered for the annual march through the streets of Athens that ended in front of the US Embassy.
Approximately 7,000 police officers were patrolling the city of Athens to prevent incidents.
 Annual Nov. 17 protest march winds up; arrests reported, no major violenceA total of 78 people were detained on Thursday prior to, during and just after the annual Nov. 17 protest march in central Athens on the occasion of a students' uprising in 1973.
Sweeps occurred in and around the Polytechnic and near Klafthonos square, where a congregation of so-called "anti-state" activists.
Later, a total of 11 arrests were along the protest rally route, especially after self-styled anarchists threw firebombs at nearby riot police near Parliament and further noth at Mavili square, next to the US embassy.
On its part, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) held a separate rally on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising.
The KKE-affiliated rally was peaceful.
 Polyzogopoulos sharply criticises PapandreouMP Christos Polyzogopoulos, a deputy of the former ruling PASOK party, on Wednesday night sharply criticised party leader and former prime minister George Papandreou, saying that with the policy applied by the latter, he contributed to the responsibilities in the 2004-2009 period of the then New Democracy (ND) government for the situation in Greece "to have been forgotten".
Polyzogopoulos, a member of the PASOK National Council and head of the party's parliamentary group committee on the economy, said that this could have been avoided, but "political planning, a strong leadership, collective social and political responsibility, and chiefly policies and social alliances" were needed.
He described the outcome of Papandreou's policy as "negative and even dangerous for the country", adding that "the time has come for an overall account and attribution of blame on those who have blame, and chiefly the PASOK leadership".
Polyzogopoulos, a former chief of Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), also expressed disagreement with the participation of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party in the Greece's new transitional government, warning that this "dis-incriminates the far Right", which he considers a political impropriety that burdens Papandreou.
 Former finmin demands MP retract claim that he worked for Goldman-SachsIn a letter to Parliamentary deputy Panos Kammenos, former finance minister and current Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou on Thursday demanded that Kammenos retract statements made in Parliament, according to which Papaconstantinou had formerly been employed by Goldman-Sachs.
The minister said the claim amounted to slander and warned that he would take legal action, adding that Kammenos' statement would be more at home on a marginal blog than in Parliament.
Kammenos was an MP for New Democracy but was ousted from ND's Parliamentary group after his refusal to vote for the cooperation government led by PM Lucas Papademos on Wednesday night.
 Tsipras: International and European economic elite have selected the wrong people for a guinea pigCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, accompanied by the leader of the German Die Linke party Klaus Ernst and a delegation of the SYRIZA youth organisation, on Thursday laid a wreath at the Polytechnic monument on the anniversary of the 1973 Polytechnic student's uprising that led to the fall of the 7-year dictatorship in Greece.
Earlier, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias' aide-de-camp also laid a wreath on behalf of the President.
Tsipras, in a statement, said that the Greek people, who keep their history alive, are at this time facing a new attack against its rights, adding that the banks and the banking system should pay the price of the crisis, and not the citizens.
Linking the past with the present, Tsipras said that "the uprising of the youth in November 1973 shows that the international and European centers of the economic elite have selected the wrong people for a guinea pig".
A wreath was also placed by Democratic Left party representative Spyros Lykoudis.
 Cyprus a priority for Greek foreign policy, defence minister says in NicosiaNICOSIA (AMNA - A. Viketos)
A single, undivided Cyprus is a top priority for Greek foreign policy, National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Thursday during a visit to Cyprus.
Speaking during a joint press conference with his Cypriot counterpart Demetris Eliades, Avramopoulos stressed that Cyprus defends its interests with Greece at its side.
"The economic crisis will not lead us to make discounts or back down from the principles and goals we have set," Avramopoulos underlined, adding that his visit to Nicosia had real, semantic and symbolic value and was a link in the enduring and steadfast cooperation between Greece and Cyprus.
"It is a new start and a new chapter in cooperation between Greece and Cyprus. Greece guarantees the independence and unity of Cyprus," he said and invited his Cypriot counterpart to visit Athens in order to reaffirm the agreements made on Thursday.
"Our aim is to serve the goal of peace and stability in the region," he added.
Eliades thanked Avramopoulos for his visit, noting that it was the Greek minister's first visit abroad. He stressed that this sent a message of Greece's steadfast and unselfish support for the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus.
"Greece guarantees the present and future of the Cyprus Republic," Eliades said, adding that Greece and Cyprus seek to be factors of peace and stability in the region, acting within the framework of law and uniting their forces to achieve these goals.
After his talks with Eliades, Avramopoulos was briefed on the military situation by the head of the Cypriot national guard.
 DM Avramopoulos meets Cyprus Archbishop and Parliament speakerNICOSIA (AMNA/A. Viketos)
Greek Nationa Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is in Cyprus at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart Demetris Eliades, held separate meetings on Thursday afternoon with the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou.
The Greek minister was accompanied by the Cypriot Defence minister and Greece's ambassador in Cyprus Vassilis Papaioannou.
No statements were made after the meetings.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew meets French FM JuppeISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
French Foreign and European Affairs Minister Alain Juppe visited Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Thursday afternoon in the framework of the official visit he is making to Turkey.
The French minister was accompanied by the French ambassador in Ankara and in the discussion he had with the Ecumenical Patriarch he showed special interest in the state of the Christian minorities in the Near and Middle East.
An announcement issued at the Phanar afterwards said that the Patriarch briefed the minister on the results of the meeting of the primates of the Old Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus that took place at the Phanar recently.
The Ecumenical Patriarch had met in Paris in 2007 with the French minister when Juppe was Ecology minister, and last April, again in Paris, when the French minister held his current position.
 Hungarian president visits Ecumenical PatriarchISTANBUL (AMNA - A. Kourkoulas)
Hungarian President Pal Schmitt onThursday paid a visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at his seat in Fanar, Istanbul.
According to an announcement issued by the Patriarchate, Schmitt and the Patriarch had a long conversation about matters concerning various religious groups in Hungary and a reference made to these religious communities in the Hungarian Constitution.
Schmitt also congratulated Patriarch Bartholomew on the 20th anniversary since his election as Patriarch.
 Alexandria Patriarch congratulates new Greek PMAlexandria and All Africa Patriarch Theodoros II on Thursday sent a letter congratulating Greece's new Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on obtaining a vote of confidence from the Greek Parliament.
The Patriarch wished the new premier "complete success in the work of multiple responsibility that you have undertaken at the present difficult time" and said that he was "praying fervently" that God will bless the new premier's efforts for the good of Greece.
 Australian envoy in Thessaloniki this monthAustralia's ambassador to Greece, Jenny Bloomfield, will visit the northern city of Thessaloniki on Nov. 21 and 22 for a round of contacts with local government officials and business leaders.
Talks are expected to focus on bilateral cooperation, as well as better exploitation of existing institutions, given that Melbourne and Thessaloniki are "sister cities".
 Negotations on Greek 'haircut' to continue in Frankfurt on ThursdayNegotiations between the Greek government and Greece's private lenders on a 50 percent haircut of the Greek state bonds in their possession, as per the October 26 eurozone summit decisions, are expected to continue on Thursday in Frankfurt.
Public Debt Management Organization chief Petros Christodoulou is due to hold talks with Institute for International Finance (IIF) managing director Charles Dallara and representatives of the foreign banks holding Greek state bonds, while representatives of the major Greek banks are also expected to take part in the discussions.
Dallara met in Athens on Wednesday with new Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos. The IIF chief was in Athens as the representative of Greece's foreign private creditors, conveying proposals by the latter for a higher interest for banks that will agree to taking part in the bond swap, which proposal was not accepted, according to sources.
The IIF will also hold talks with the European Commission (EC), European Investment Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the same matter in Frankfurt on Thursday.
 IMF requesting assurances from Greece to disburse 6th trancheNEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is requesting assurances from the new Greek government and a wide political support for the measures so as to release the 6th tranche of an EC/ECB/IMF loan to Greece.
An IMF official, addressing a press conference in Washington on Thursday, said that the Fund wants assurances from the new government of "national unity" in Greece and to "commit itself fully" on the implementation of the economic targets, which is supported by the rescue programme of the IMF and the EU, before the next tranche is given.
"We are ready to cooperate," said David Hawley, Senior Adviser in the IMF's External Relations Department, stressing that "the IMF requests assurances from the new unity government of Greece that it will implement the commitments of its predecessor" and that "it will proceed with the immediate ratification and the speedy implementation of the agreement of the Eurozone summit of October 26."
Hawley said that "as soon as the political will for the implementation of what has been agreed is confirmed, the IMF, in an understanding with the partners, will proceed with the disbursement of the 6th tranche."
 Tax evasion higher in 2010, finance ministry reportsTax evasion in Greece actually rose in 2010, based on tax statements submitted during that year for income earned in 2009, according to a finance ministry announcement.
In an announcement issued on Wednesday, seven in 10 freelance workers declared an income lower than the 12,000-euro tax-free allowance of that year so that 273,662 freelance workers out of a total of 378,876 that submitted income tax statements during that year paid no tax at all.
During the same year, only 443 freelance workers declared incomes greater than 200,000 euros a year and only six declared incomes above 900,000 euro.
Out of total tax-payers submitted tax statements in 2010, only 52 declared incomes above 900,000 euro in that year, of which 15 were salaried employees. Another 204 tax-payers declared incomes ranging from 500,000 euro to 900,000 euro in that year.
The figures indicate that levels of tax evasion actually increased in 2010 tax statements, relative to the previous year.
 Energy minister at Black Sea Energy and Economic ForumISTANBUL (AMNA - A. Kourkoulas)
Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou on Thursday attended the 3rd Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum (BSEEF) organised by the Atlantic Council, which is taking place in Istanbul on Thursday and Friday.
Papaconstantinou addressed the forum and discussed issues concerning Greece's conversion into a regional energy hub during meetings with Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz and Bulgarian energy minister Traicho Traikov.
He stressed that important decisions will be made over the next three months concerning the Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline (ITGI), appearing confident that the necessary works will go ahead. In talks with his Turkish counterpart, Papaconstantinou reported general agreement between Athens and Ankara concerning plans for the ITGI but noted that the final decisions will be made by Azerbaijan and Britain, which controlled the consortium.
In talks with Traikov, Papaconstantinou was informed that Sofia continued to back construction of the Greek-Bulgarian gas pipeline, a development that would boost the prospects that the ITGI will be selected.
The Greek minister stressed that the privatisation programme for the energy sector to be announced next month will also boost the prospects of the ITGI being selected over other options.
In talks with Yildiz, he also discussed differences that have arisen between Greece's Public Gas Company DEPA and the Turkish gas company BOTAS. The two minister said these were moving toward a solution, with an agreement in place for a settlement of DEPA's debts and on a method of resolving the differences that have arisen between the two sides.
 Business Briefs-- Greece's central government deficit fell 4.0 pct in the January-October period to 19.7 billion euros, down from 20.6 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
-- Sprider Stores on Thursday reported a 19-pct decline in its consolidated turnover to 85.230 million euros in the January-September period, down from 105.248 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
-- The Piraeus Port Authority on Thursday reported a spectacular 298-pct jump in its nine-month net profits to 5,554,138 euros, from 1,865,200 euros in the corresponding period last year).
 Stocks end 0.96 pct higherStocks recovered after two days of sharp losses in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, helped by a recovery of the bank index which lost 5.89 pct in the previous two sessions. The index had fallen to its lowest levels since early 1990. The composite index of the market rose 0.96 pct to end at 724.81 points, with turnover remaining a low 37.989 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 1.53 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.38 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.43 pct. Hellenic Postbank (15.09 pct), National Bank (6.18 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.81 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (3.47 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while PPC (2.83 pct) and Ellaktor (1.63 pct) were top losers.
The Bank (4.28 pct), Telecoms (2.42 pct) and Raw Materials (2.28 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (2.18 pct), Commerce (0.92 pct) and Constructions (0.82 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 96 to 54 with another 30 issues unchanged. Vis (30 pct), Levenderis (29.33 pct) and Kekrops (20.39 pct) were top gainers, while Tegopoulos (19.44 pct), Perseus (19.35 pct) and Selman (19.02 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.88%
Personal & Household: +0.85%
Raw Materials: +2.28%
Travel & Leisure: +0.03%
Food & Beverages: -0.56%
Financial Services: +1.34%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank and DEH.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.86
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.15
HBC Coca Cola: 12.93
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.46
National Bank of Greece: 1.89
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.60
Bank of Piraeus: 0.22
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds remained unchanged at 16.13 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 18 pct and the German Bund 1.87 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 2.02 pct, the six-month rate 1.68 pct, the three-month 1.45 pct and the one-month rate 1.20 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.43 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to a low 8.910 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,396 contracts worth 4.673 million euros, with 18,218 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 26,119 contracts worth 4.238 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (12,223), followed by Eurobank (970), MIG (341), OTE (627), PPC (709), GEK (718), Alpha Bank (3,794), Cyprus Bank (4,106), Hellenic Postbank (1,154), Piraeus Bank (193) and Hellenic Petroleum (356).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.368
Pound sterling 0.866
Danish kroner 7.554
Swedish kroner 9.312
Japanese yen 105.32
Swiss franc 1.257
Norwegian kroner 7.937
Canadian dollar 1.402
Australian dollar 1.360
 Two prominent businessmen arrested for 2 million euros in debts to stateTwo prominent Thessaloniki-based businessmen were arrested on Thursday for overdue debts to the state exceeding two million euros.
The two detainees, aged 51 and 69, are partners in a clothing and accessories business in the Ambelokipi region of Thessaloniki.
The 51-year-old is said to owe 1.1 million euros to the state and the 69-year-old owes 988,000 euros.
The two men, who also have outstanding previous court rulings against them for debts to the state, will be taken before a public prosecutor.
 Businessman charged with overdue debts to state remanded to trialA 72-year-old businessman arrested by the police economic crimes squad (SDOE) on Wednesday for 625,000 euros in overdue debts to the state was led on Thursday before a public prosecutor and charged.
The businessman, who is active in the fields of advertising and slimming and beauty centers, was remanded to trial.
 UEFA disciplinary com't imposes 1-game ban on nat'l team's home groundUEFA's disciplinary committee on Thursday handed down a one-game suspension (no spectators in the stands) on the Greek national football team's home ground, as well as a fine of 60,000 euros on the Greek football federation (EPO) for incidents before a home match with Croatia last month.
The suspension will affect a game in the preliminary phase of the 2014 World Cup.
EPO did not appeal the decision.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 17C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 13C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 0C to 11C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe sweeping vote of confidence (255 votes in 300-member parliament) received by the new government on Wednesday and the disbursement of the sixth tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Antonis Samaras message of national dignity".
AVGHI: "Unfortunately, we have failed....".
AVRIANI: "Georgie (former Prime Minister George Papandreou) go away to avoid humiliation and to save PASOK which has fallen to 11.8 percent (in opinion polls)".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Extremely expensive 'haircut' with 8 percent interest".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Christmas bonus hostage to the sixth tranche of the bailout loan".
ESTIA: "The two years of disaster".
ETHNOS: "PPC bills containing mistakes in real estate surtax being frozen".
IMERISSIA: "Agony over the haircut".
KATHIMERINI: "Vote of confidence and outstanding issues".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "255 votes of confidence over euro's perspective".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Rise up in order that all surtaxes will be abolished".
TA NEA: "Madhouse".
VRADYNI: "Heavy and hazardous professions: Who remain, who are leaving and how they will get pensions".
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