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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-12-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 30 December 2011 Issue No: 3961


  • [01] PM: Structural reforms must begin by mid Jan.
  • [02] PM, judicial leadership focus on economic crimes prosecutors' resignation
  • [03] Supreme Court prosecutor orders probe into prosecutors' resignation
  • [04] PM: New employment plan in 2012 to safeguard, create jobs
  • [05] 'Transcending political game necessary for loan agreement,' gov't spokesman says
  • [06] Cooperation memo signed with France on public administration reform
  • [07] Samaras says budget for foreign ministry too low
  • [08] LA.O.S leader sets conditions to continue gov't support
  • [09] SYRIZA head meets with pharmacists' reps
  • [10] Finance ministry offers strict instructions on 2012 budget execution
  • [11] Energy ministry eyes increased PPC rates
  • [12] Tax offices throughout country to operate as normal on Friday
  • [13] Pharmacies closed on Jan. 2,3
  • [14] Stocks end flat on Thur.
  • [15] ADEX closing report
  • [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [17] Slight tremor shakes SW Greece
  • [18] Migrant smuggling ring busted; police officer arrested
  • [19] Foreign nat'ls arrested in metro station, gun displayed
  • [20] Contraband cigarettes arrests
  • [21] Rainy on Friday
  • [22] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

  • [01] PM: Structural reforms must begin by mid Jan.

    All structural reforms will have to be set in motion or either completed by mid January, ahead of the new loan agreement, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos underlined on Thursday during a Cabinet meeting, government sources said.

    Papademos has launched a series of contacts with government ministers for the purpose of pinpointing all structural reforms, as well as, the obstacles that need to be overcome in an effort to meet the timetable he has set, the same sources said, underlining that all decisions reached on Thursday enjoyed unanimous approval.

    The Cabinet meeting focused on a draft law on the environment and on a legislative act concerning a number of issues. The issue of the truck transportation sector deregulation and the licensing of law firms in the country will be settled within the framework of the omnibus draft law sponsored by the ministry of finance.

    As regards the Public Power Corp. (PPC SA) rates, the cabinet agreed on a 9-pct increase.

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, speaking during Thursday's cabinet meeting that focused on environmental protection issues, stressed that "the laws are not enough. They constitute a necessary first step, however more must follow, that will guarantee their implementation."

    The prime minister added that coordinated actions are required on the part of the government, regions and local administration with a clear delineation of their duties.

    Papademos was referring to the main issue on the cabinet meeting's agenda that included three parts, the main one being the incorporation in Greek law of two EU directives on penal protection for the environment and the production and management of refuse.

    The third part included arrangements on various issues falling under the jurisdiction of the Environment ministry.

    During the cabinet meeting, Papademos also congratulated Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister George Papaconstantinou for his recommendation.

    [02] PM, judicial leadership focus on economic crimes prosecutors' resignation

    Allegations made by economic crime prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis in their resignations should be fully investigated as soon as possible, it was concluded in Thursday's meeting between prime minister Lucas Papademos and the country's supreme court judges.

    [03] Supreme Court prosecutor orders probe into prosecutors' resignation

    Supreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes on Thursday ordered the senior Supreme Court prosecutor Fotis Makris to conduct an immediate investigation in the circumstances surrounding the resignation the Court of Appeals prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis.

    Moreover, Tentes called on Makris to ask the two prosecutors to provide further explanations regarding their letters of resignation, in which they cited opposition into their work by "organised interests" and "various advocates" for the latter.

    Meanwhile, the two prosecutors on Thursday provided verbal explanations to the Supreme Court's prosecuting authority on the reasons leading them to resignation.

    The two gave their explanations to the Supreme Court's vice prosecutor, who supervises the economic crimes division.

    The two prosecutors were given a deadline to submit a memorandum in the coming days, in which they will detail the reasons for their resignations.

    [04] PM: New employment plan in 2012 to safeguard, create jobs

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Thursday announced a plan to create and safeguard 150,000 jobs in the recession-plagued Greek economy during the first three months of 2012 via a new employment programme.

    The statements came after the conclusion of his meeting with relevant government officials and other agency heads, which took place at the Maximos Mansion.

    The premier referred a boost in social programmes for the elderly, the unemployed, mothers with a low income and other vunlerable groups.

    "The economic crisis and unemployment have affected thousands of families, which are under great pressure these days. It is our duty to support and upgrade social solidarity ... Our country is waging two battles, the first is for fiscal reform and a restructuring of the economy, and the other is society's battle against the concequences of the crisis -- unemployment and protection of social cohesion," he concluded.

    [05] 'Transcending political game necessary for loan agreement,' gov't spokesman says

    Minister of state and government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Thursday stressed that the "challenge before us is to transcend the reality of political game and guarantee the loan agreement". He made the comment in response to a question on the duration of the government term and the time of the elections which he characterized as "procedural issue".

    Speaking to an Athens-based private radio station, Kapsis stressed that "the election date issue will be settled in March".

    He underlined the importance of an agreement on crucial and substantive issues, stressing that "the political parties participating in the government are aware of what is at stake and of the gravity of the situation", adding that "any disagreements should be overcome by shaping joint positions. That's the challenge we are being faced with."

    Referring to developments within the political parties, he stressed that what's important is that "the ministers participating in the government are aware of the fact that government work takes precedence."

    As regards the government reshuffle, he said that it is within the prime minister's rights and authority, adding that it will take place if deemed necessary.

    Kapsis said that the issue of the government's large size has been overly accentuated, stressing that the present government was the result of an agreement between the participating political parties.

    The government spokesman repeated that "new measures are likely" within the framework of the economic programme attached to the new loan agreement.

    He added that the measures themselves are not the major issue "but our willingness to proceed with structural reforms necessary to restart the economy. If we show, as a country, that we will proceed with their implementation we will be faced with considerably weaker pressure for new measures".

    [06] Cooperation memo signed with France on public administration reform

    Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas on Thursday signed a memorandum of cooperation with France's budget, public accounts and civil administration ministry, focusing on the evaluation of all state structures and personnel in Greece.

    The evaluation will be conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP) with the assistance of private sector agencies and the aforementioned French government ministry in cooperation with the Task Force for Greece.

    The aim of the memorandum is to provide assistance to Greek authorities during the evaluation process and prepare a comprehensive architecture and strategy that will allow the implementation of administrative reform within the framework of the OECD recommendations and the memorandum signed between Greece and its creditors.

    [07] Samaras says budget for foreign ministry too low

    New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday expressed his reservations over what he called the foreign ministry's limited budget for 2012, which stands at 0.17 percent of total draft budget, in statements during a meeting with Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas.

    Samaras visited the ministry and was briefed by its leadership and top ambassadors on the course of various foreign policy issues.

    In a statement afterwards, he expressed satisfaction over the handling of the foreign policy sector by the ministry's permanent administrative and diplomatic staff, while however expressing annoyance at the ministry's slashed budget.

    "I am very concerned over the major problem of this ministry's budget," he said.

    In response to press questions regarding the forest fire claim by former Turkish premier Mesut Yilmaz, Samaras merely noted that the foreign ministry's statements on the issue have "covered him completely".

    [08] LA.O.S leader sets conditions to continue gov't support

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis on Thursday set four conditions, as he said, to continue his party's support and participation in the interim Papademos government, stressing that he "leaves four windows open".

    Karatzaferis told AMNA that PASOK should have "a strong and secure leadership" within the first days of January and before the arrival of the troika (EC-ECB-IMF) representatives, noting that "at the moment, no one knows who the leader of PASOK is."

    He also said "the New Democracy (ND) party should clarify the role it plays, namely, whether it participates in the government or not."

    Karatzaferis called for a "close-knit and effective government", suggesting a Cabinet with 10 ministers and three vice-presidents. Moreover, he added that he is "against hastily called elections", stressing that first the PSI will have to be completed successfully and the foundations should be laid to effectively deal with the crisis.

    [09] SYRIZA head meets with pharmacists' reps

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras on Thursday met with Pharmacists' Association representatives and was briefed on the problems facing the sector.

    Tsipras commented afterwards that "the medicine embargo and the credit asphyxiation caused by the pharmaceutical multinationals and the banks, combined with the social insurance funds' inability to pay, have led thousands of pharmacists nationwide to virtual bankruptcy, considering that they are unable to pay in advance for the medicines they want to be supplied with."

    He underlined that the situation in certain cases is "horrific", referring to a shortage recorded in cancer-fighting drugs, as claimed by the pharmacists' association

    Financial News

    [10] Finance ministry offers strict instructions on 2012 budget execution

    Alternate Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis on Thursday issued a circular outlining strict instructions to government ministries regarding the execution of next year's budget.

    In the circular, the minister warned against the accumulation of overdue debts by state agencies, saying the government will impose heavy sanctions on any agency with excessive overdue debts.

    The circular envisages that the allocation of all credits recorded in the state budget should not be taken for granted, noting that subsidies are linked with targets set for each agency.

    It added that additional funds needed for payroll should be taken from each agency's reserves and noted that funds earmarked for payroll should be directed to cover operating spending.

    [11] Energy ministry eyes increased PPC rates

    The environment, energy and climatic change ministry cited an increase in Public Power Corp. (PPC) rates by 9.2 percent as of Jan. 1. At the same time, an abolition of decreased rates for the utility's employees and pensioners is planned, while a decrease in the surcharge for the public broadcaster (ERT) -- slapped on power bills every month -- is also being examined.

    Minister George Papaconstantinou announced the proposed hikes during a briefing of the Cabinet on Thursday.

    The 9.2-percent hike is the average increase that will be included in the ministerial decision, with which the increases will be approved. On the basis of this, the PPC will prepare individual rates that will apply for consumers, in accordance with their use (household, commercial rates etc) and the amount of consumption.

    [12] Tax offices throughout country to operate as normal on Friday

    Tax offices throughout the country will operate as normal on Friday since the 48-hour strike started on Thursday by Finance ministry tax employees was ruled illegal by justice, but not abusive.

    [13] Pharmacies closed on Jan. 2,3

    The national association of pharmacists has called a 48-hour strike on Jan. 2 and 3, following comments by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos of cutbacks in the state-mandated profit margin for pharmacies. Moreover, the association reiterated its decision to stop filling prescriptions on credit to customers insured in all social security funds as of Jan. 1.

    The association charged the ministry announced measures without dialogue and that "it continues to downgrade pharmaceutical care and punish the pharmacists by further minimising their already small profit margin."

    [14] Stocks end flat on Thur.

    Stocks ended flat at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday in very thin trading.

    The composite index of the market eased 0.34 pct to end at 667.30 points, with turnover shrinking to 18.030 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 0.36 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.12 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.35 pct higher.

    Cyprus Bank (9.19 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (8.49 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.50 pct) and Motor Oil (2.09 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Folli Follie (6.54 pct), MIG (4.47 pct) and Mytilineos (2.60 pct) were top losers. Banks (2.79 pct), Technology (2.61 pct) and Travel (1.58 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Commerce (6.36 pct), Financial Services (2.81 pct) and Health (2.32 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 80 to 77 with another 32 issues unchanged. Naftemporiki (29.51 pct), Mathios (23.76 pct) and Euromedica (22.13 pct) were top gainers, while Pasal (29.94 pct), CPI (29.78 pct) and Akritas (22.56 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +0.34%

    Commercial: -6.36%

    Construction: +0.32%

    Oil & Gas: -0.69%

    Personal & Household: -1.08%

    Raw Materials: -2.00%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.58%

    Technology: +2.61%

    Telecoms: -0.75%

    Banks: +2.79%

    Food & Beverages: -0.91%

    Health: -2.32%

    Utilities: -1.14%

    Chemicals: +0.29%

    Financial Services: -2.81%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.52

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.62

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.21

    National Bank of Greece: 1.62

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.35

    OPAP: 6.74

    OTE: 2.66

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.25

    Titan: 11.29

    [15] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.62 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to a record-low 2.469 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 744 contracts worth 953,747 euros, with 15,787 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,047 contracts worth 1.515 million euros with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (4,510), followed by OTE (1,217), Marfin Popular Bank (548), Mytilineos (444), Cyprus Bank (1,150), Hellenic Postbank (222), OPAP (133), Piraeus Bank (218) and PPC (96).

    [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.308

    Pound sterling 0.848

    Danish kroner 7.545

    Swedish kroner 9.075

    Japanese yen 101.74

    Swiss franc 1.236

    Norwegian kroner 7.890

    Canadian dollar 1.338

    Australian dollar 1.299

    General News

    [17] Slight tremor shakes SW Greece

    A light earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale was recorded at 17:30 on Thursday and was felt in the southwestern cities of Patras, Egio, Nafpaktos and other coastal regions in the prefectures of Achaia and Aitoloakarnania.

    The epicentre of the quake was in the sea about 11 kilometres north, northwest of Egio.

    No material damages were reported.

    [18] Migrant smuggling ring busted; police officer arrested

    An on-duty 38-year-old police officer and a 27-year-old local man were arrested at the port of Lefkimmi on the Ionian Sea island of Corfu in the early morning hours of Thursday on migrant smuggling charges.

    A man from India and a local man from Corfu, alleged members of the same ring, were arrested at the port of Piraeus.

    The suspects were apprehended by undercover police officers who appeared as migrant smugglers willing to transport 24 illegal migrants to Italy using a speedboat.

    The arrests were made near the port of Lefkimmi, on the island's southern tip. The police officer, who was on duty at the time of the arrest, was monitoring the illegal transportation from his patrol car.

    All 24 illegal migrants were arrested and will be deported.

    An investigation at the suspects' homes revealed a stash of hashish, a precision scale and a handgun.

    [19] Foreign nat'ls arrested in metro station, gun displayed

    Two Albanian nationals were arrested in the Athens metro station of Sepolia at noon on Tuesday when they attempted to flee an ID check, while one of the two suspects threatened police with a loaded pistol.

    Police officers spotted the pair at the Syntagma metro station reportedly acting suspiciously, and followed them until the Sepolia station.

    Both men were also charged with residing in the country illegally.

    [20] Contraband cigarettes arrests

    Two individuals, 32 and 26, were arrested on Thursday in the Piraeus district of Rendi for possessing and trafficking contraband cigarettes.

    Police found nearly 6,000 packs cigarettes and 1,730 euros cash in a car.

    Weather Forecast

    [21] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -5C and 15C. Rainy in Athens, with southerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 13C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 2C to 8C.

    [22] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Changes in the tax codes and the resignation of two top appeals court prosecutors assigned to financial crimes cases mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Explosion in justice system!"

    AVGHI: "Political and economic scandal against justice system".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Resistance by judicial officials".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Corrupt para-state chased out another two prosecutors".

    ESTIA: "Overtime tax imposers".

    ETHNOS: "Increased evidence of standard of living a new burden for households".

    IMERISSIA: " 'Burning' new standard of living receipts".

    KATHIMERINI: "Economic crimes prosecutors resign".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Tax mechanism failing".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "24-hour strike on Jan. 17".

    TA NEA: "New standards of living statements - Taxes for 2011 incomes".

    VRADYNI: "Debts : Six secrets for relief".

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