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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-03-28

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

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

Wednesday, 28 March 2012 Issue No: 4032

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government work will continue during election campaign period
  • [02] PASOK Political Council holds meeting on election campaign
  • [03] PASOK leader Venizelos addressed the party's political council
  • [04] ND party accuses PASOK party leader Venizelos of inconsistency
  • [05] LA.O.S leader Karatzaferis criticises plans for illegal migrant reception centres
  • [06] Bakoyannis: Greece's European future at stake in upcoming elections
  • [07] Political parties to receive 7.72 million euros
  • [08] Eurostat chief, Almunia support Georgiou in Parliament probe of 2009 deficit figure
  • [09] Foreign Minister Dimas met with the Special Envoy of the U.S. Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy
  • [10] Energy issues the focus of Maniatis-Morningstar meeting
  • [11] Cohn-Bendit, Harms urge EU policy shift on migration, economy at Eco-Greens event Athens
  • [12] Local authorities must 'make do' with existing funds, interior minister stresses
  • [13] Culture Minister Geroulanos in Ukraine
  • [14] Culture minister gives World Tourism Organisation sg guided tour of Acropolis
  • [15] Alternate Greek FM on Cyprus, meets Christofias
  • [16] Dollis on working visit to Cyprus, meets Cypriot foreign minister
  • [17] Justice ministry document calls for construction of more prison facilities
  • [18] Education Minister Babiniotis meets with university rectors
  • [19] Universities at risk of closing due to PSI bond swap
  • [20] German General Consul in Thessaloniki visits Volos town hall
  • [21] OECD calls for further structural reforms
  • [22] Eurobarometer: 31 pct of Greek SMEs in 'green' economy
  • [23] Greek exports up 37 pct in 2011
  • [24] Trade deficit down 20.1pct in Jan. 2012
  • [25] Greek real estate market says "current situation dramatic"
  • [26] Flexopack reports improved 2011 results
  • [27] Bussiness Briefs
  • [28] Greek stocks end significantly lower
  • [29] ADEX closing report
  • [30] Greek bond market closing report
  • [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [32] Healthcare sector mobilizations on Thursday
  • [33] Metro, ISAP, Tram work-stoppage Wednesday
  • [34] Three suspects arrested in Athens for drug dealing
  • [35] One arrest for bank fraud in Athens
  • [36] Unidentified man's body found
  • [37] 36 illegal migrants repatriated
  • [38] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [39] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Government work will continue during election campaign period

    Government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Tuesday stressed that "the election campaign period will be nothing but work as usual for the government," adding that "the main concern is to make the best possible preparation for the new government."

    Referring to the likely election date, he said that Parliament might well be dissolved the Wednesday before Orthodox Easter, meaning that a definitive decision on the election date could be announced within the next few days.

    Referring to the issue of the deregulation of taxi services, he said that a consultation process is underway.

    On the strong objections raised by regional governors to the creation of illegal migrant reception centres across the country, Kapsis stressed the importance of a complete consultation, adding that the government plan will be implemented as soon as possible.

    Meanwhile, it was announced that Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will complete his round of talks with the political party leaders on Wednesday when he will meet with Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis.

    [02] PASOK Political Council holds meeting on election campaign

    PASOK party spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata on Tuesday announced that the party's Political Council had made a series of decisions for the organisation of the party's pre-election campaign, with which it aimed for an election victory with PASOK in the lead.

    Among these she listed the creation of a candidate selection committee coordinated by Vassilis Geranidis, the appointment of Stelios Aggeloudis as head of political planning and Christina Manolopoulou as head of the party's president's political bureau, with Nikos Salagiannis taking on the role of PASOK general director.

    She also announced a meeting of the extended National Council on April 6, with the participation of regional and prefecture party organisation secretaries and a delegation from PASOK's youth group.

    Gennimata said that the General Election Committee will be announced on Wednesday and that circulars will be sent out concerning the process for nominating candidates.

    On the planning of the election campaign, she said the party will "invest in its political language and relations of honesty with the citizens" and have the smallest possible budget, with minimal spending on fliers, posters and related election material.

    She stressed that this would not mean exclusive reliance on the media to get across the party's message but also on personal contact with individual citizens, with PASOK anxious to hear first-hand the anger and frustration of the citizens.

    Sources at the party headquarters explained a poster that appeared on Monday as an "attempt" to participate by young people supporting the party and that the party genuinely did not intend to use posters or rent campaign offices.

    [03] PASOK leader Venizelos addressed the party's political council

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday addressed the party's political council stressing that the main dilemma is how the country will be governed and not what government will result from the elections.

    Venizelos underlined that there should be a transition from the memorandum to a national reconstruction plan, adding that across-the-board economic measures would have been avoided if the structural reforms were implemented in the proper time.

    He also stressed the need for the adoption of offset measures "to ensure that the sacrifices made by the Greek people will not be vain."

    [04] ND party accuses PASOK party leader Venizelos of inconsistency

    The New Democracy (ND) party on Monday accused PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos of "insincerity and inconsistency".

    Referring to statements by Venizelos, according to which what he cares about is self-sufficient Greece, ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis stressed that "it is understood absolutely now, the leader of the party that is collapsing to be in the grips of defeatism" and reminded of past statem?nts by Venizelos on the issue of majority self-sufficiency, statements which, as he said "reveal a conflict of Venizelos against Venizelos, full of contradictions."

    According to ND, what Venizelos was saying in the past is exactly the opposite of what he is saying today.

    [05] LA.O.S leader Karatzaferis criticises plans for illegal migrant reception centres

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) President George Karatzaferis on Tuesday lashed out at Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis in response to an initiative concerning the creation of reception centres for illegal migrants across the country.

    Karatzaferis stated that Chryssohoidis is treating the Greek people like fools, adding that a radical solution to the problem is necessary "considering that the illegal migrants in Greece are numbering roughly 2 million and the borders are being illegally crossed on a daily basis."

    Karatzaferis suggested that Greece should withdraw from the Schengen Agreement and provide the illegal migrants with travel documents allowing them to leave the country, adding that "anything else would be nothing more than half measures that are an insult to the people's intelligence."

    [06] Bakoyannis: Greece's European future at stake in upcoming elections

    Greece's continued presence and future in Europe were the main issue at stake in the upcoming national elections, Democratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis stressed in a press conference given in Thessaloniki on Tuesday.

    She said that voters must decide whether Greece "must go through a difficult, uphill course but with light at the end of the tunnel, a future for our children and grandchildren," or whether the country will embark on a perilous and uncertain course.

    Bakoyannis noted that she had counted seven parties vying for the Greek peoples' vote based on the latest polls, adding that never before "have there been so many parties seeking the vote of the Greeks without proposing any plan or prospect for the future".

    She also emphasised that her Democratic Alliance party had consistently supported the same positions, without u-turns, and insisted on the need for a change in the political and party system, with a reduction in the number of MPs to 200, a reduction in MP salaries and party subsidies and the creation of a social safety net to protect against unfair cutbacks.

    [07] Political parties to receive 7.72 million euros

    The ministry of interior will fund the political parties with 7.72 million euros within the framework of their regular financing approved for research and educational purposes, according to a joint ministerial decision signed by Interior Minister Tassos Yianitsis and Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis, it was announced on Tuesday.

    According to the decision, the amount approved corresponds to one quarter of the sum allocated to political parties in the first quarter of 2012.

    Based on the decision, PASOK will receive 3,107,705 euros, New Democracy (ND) 2,429,469 euros, the communist party KKE 746,737 euros, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) 622,748 euros, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) 556,005 euros and Ecologists-Greens 257,333 euros.

    [08] Eurostat chief, Almunia support Georgiou in Parliament probe of 2009 deficit figure

    The problems with the fiscal statistics supplied by Greece long predated 2009 and had improved significantly since 2010, according to a written replies that Eurostat Director General Walter Radermacher and former European Commissioner for monetary affairs Joaquin Almunia sent on Tuesday to the Parliamentary committee investigating allegations that the 2009 public deficit figure had been deliberately inflated.

    Radermacher's written statement supported the approach taken by ELSTAT chief Andreas Georgiou concerning the obligation to follow Eurostat's ESA 95 handbook that led to the revision of Greece's deficit to 15.8 percent.

    Radermacher noted that "the methodology that is applied in statistics for the Excessive Deficit Procedure is created on a European level, while the technical issues of training that are linked to the implementation of this methodology are not foreseen to be an object of discussion and decision at the board of the National Statistical Authority".

    Concerning the inclusion of public utilities in the general government deficit, Radermacher said that Greece had been asked to classify public utilities since 2002 and that the other member-states "classify certain state enterprises in the general government sector".

    According to Almunia, however, the board members that clashed with Georgiou on this issue were also not entirely unjustified, since there was no legal binding obligation on each national statistical authority to follow the code.

    According to Almunia, all finance ministers in Greece and Europe were aware of the risk of a possible crisis in 2009, though it was hard to predict precisely when and how quickly such a crisis might unfold in each country.

    He also noted that the European Commission had warned in July 2009 that Greece's deficit was likely to exceed 10 percent of GDP and considered the official 5 percent GDP target over-optimistic. The Commission had also repeatedly raised concerns in its reports about Greece's 'weak' basic indices.

    Questioned about the Commission's decision to approve economic policy programmes presented by the New Democracy government and then its successor PASOK government, the Commissioner noted that the measures would have succeeded if they had been properly and promptly implemented but that, in many cases, "they had a limited field of implementation and a small degree of execution".

    [09] Foreign Minister Dimas met with the Special Envoy of the U.S. Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy

    Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas on Tuesday met with visiting Special Envoy of the U.S. Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy, Ambassador Richard Morningstar and discussed issues concerning the exports of Iranian oil, the energy pipelines and the exploitation of the natural gas reserves in Eastern Mediterranean.

    Foreign Minister Dimas expressed the satisfaction of the Greek side for Greece's exception from the U.S. sanctions related with the Iranian oil imports.

    Dimas underlined that the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean creates a new major potential considering that it offers Europe a valuable alternative energy resource and transport route with Greece playing an important role in the process.

    Afterwards, the Special Envoy of the U.S. Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy met with foreign ministry secretary general, Ambassador Y.-A. Zepos.

    [10] Energy issues the focus of Maniatis-Morningstar meeting

    Deputy Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis met on Tuesday evening with the special envoy of the US Foreign Ministry for energy issues in Eurasia ambassador Richard Morningstar. The meeting focused on initiatives being scheduled by Greece to become an energy centre through both the implementation of natural gas pipelines and the utilisation of the country's hydrocarbon deposits.

    Morningstar will be making an address on Wednesday at the conference organised by the Economist magazine, on the issue of investments in energy in Greece, Cyprus and Israel. An energy cooperation agreement will also be signed in the framework of the conference.

    [11] Cohn-Bendit, Harms urge EU policy shift on migration, economy at Eco-Greens event Athens

    The co-presidents of the European Parliament's Greens-European Free Alliance group, Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Rebecca Harms, held a joint press conference in Athens on Tuesday during their visit to the city as guests of the Greek Ecologists-Greens party. Cohn-Bendit's favourite themes - including military spending, tension between Greece and Turkey and the Cyprus issue - once again figured prominently in his statements.

    He also stressed the need for a new European policy on migration and for cooperation between Greece, Turkey and the European Union to stem the tide of illegal migrants, given that Turkey was the main transit country for migrants entering Greece and the EU.

    "If Europe does not develop new relations of cooperation with Turkey, then the Greek-Turkish border will never be secure," he emphasised.

    Harms noted that investment in armaments was "an investment in old ideas" and stressed the need to overcome the "conflicts of yesterday".

    The two MEPs also expressed strong concern over the severe recession of the Greek economy and the discussion underway for a form of 'Marshall Plan' that was failing to materialise, emphasising the need to make use of European funds with targeted and well-prepared activities in public works, energy programmes that preferentially made use of renewable energy sources, quality agriculture and tourism and decentralised initiatives.

    "Greeks have offered humanity much through their ingenuity and creativity. Now they must exploit these for themselves," Cohn-Bendit noted, stressing the need to change the country's "political culture" and put an end to clientelism.

    There was also criticism of the economic policy followed by the EU, which they said should be more cohesive and put greater emphasis on social cohesion.

    [12] Local authorities must 'make do' with existing funds, interior minister stresses

    Municipalities must act within the limited means of the government in terms of their finances, Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis stressed on Tuesday during his meeting with a delegation from the Regional Union of Attica Municipalities at the ministry.

    He reaffirmed his intention to cooperate with municipalities where this was possible but underlined that any increase in funding for any sector of public administration meant taking money from another. In terms of institutional issues, the minister said that these would be "satisfactorily addressed" by legislation being prepared by the interior ministry.

    Yiannitsis said that 300 million euro - out of 450 million euro requested by municipalities - had already been secured under the budget. Concerning the 15 percent reduction in the monthly funding for municipalities, Deputy Interior Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos apparently left open the possibility that this might be suspended after May and the upcoming elections.

    Attica municipalities afterward grumbled, however, that they had once again been referred to the finance ministry to resolve their economic demands. Athens Mayor George Kaminis stressed, also, that in a time of crisis when the social role of local authorities was increasingly important, reducing funds for local government was not the answer.

    [13] Culture Minister Geroulanos in Ukraine

    Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos underlined the need for simplification of the Schengen visa process, at a press conference in Kiev during his official visit to Ukraine.

    Geroulanos thanked the Ukrainian citizens that visited Greece in 2011, adding that his ministry, in cooperation with the Greek embassy in Kiev, has been successful in facilitating those who want to visit Greece.

    Focusing on the visa issue, the Greek minister noted that Ukraine has an ally in its effort for the simplification of the Schengen procedures.

    Earlier, Geroulanos spoke at the inauguration of the Ukrainian Travel Forum 2012 and invited the Ukrainian tourists to choose Greece again for their vacations, adding that despite the negative images and news, mostly appearing in the foreign press, "we are here to prove the opposite".

    Greece is one of the safest countries in the world," he stressed.

    The Greek minister also met with his Ukrainian counterpart Mykhaylo Kulynyaka with whom he discussed the cultural cooperation between the two countries.

    [14] Culture minister gives World Tourism Organisation sg guided tour of Acropolis

    World Tourism Organisation secretary general Taleb Rifai and Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos visited the Acropolis on Tuesday, on the occasion of Rifai's visit to Athens for the international "Mobility&Travel/Overcoming Travel Barriers" conference.

    He was briefed on restoration work that is underway.

    [15] Alternate Greek FM on Cyprus, meets Christofias

    "Cyprus and Greece are together in the same trench," stressed Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis on Tuesday in Nicosia, where he is on a working visit.

    Cyprus President Demetres Christofias received Dollis on Tuesday and after their one-hour meeting the Greek official noted that "Greece and Cyprus have the same targets and we are heading in the same direction". The two men also exchanged views and thoughts on Christofias' recent visit to the USA.

    The Greek deputy FM referred to Cyprus's assumption of the European Council presidency in the second half of 2012, expressing his certainty that the Cyprus presidency "must write history" and for this the two countries' governments will have a close cooperation.

    Finally Dollis said that "It was a very fruitful discussion between two people who know each other very well for many years".

    [16] Dollis on working visit to Cyprus, meets Cypriot foreign minister

    NICOSIA (AMNA - A. Viketos)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis wrapped up a working visit to Cyprus on Tuesday by meeting Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Markoulli. No statements were made after the meeting.

    Sources said the two ministers discussed the Cyprus issue, Cyprus' upcoming European Council presidency and other issues of mutual interest.

    Dollis also met Cyprus Archibishop Chrysostomos.

    [17] Justice ministry document calls for construction of more prison facilities

    An official document signed by Deputy Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister George Petalotis forwarded to parliament called on the country's regional governors to suggest appropriate spaces for the construction of correctional facilities in an effort to solve the problem of overcrowded prisons, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The document was forwarded in response to a question by New Democracy (ND) MP Ioannis Plakiotakis on the detention conditions in prison facilities.

    Petalotis stated that classified security plans have been prepared to be implemented in case of emergency incidents in correctional facilities.

    As regards the inmate population in Greek prisons, the deputy justice minister stated that on Jan. 1, 2012 the prison population comprised 11,892 adult inmates, 587 minors and individuals treated in prison infirmaries and 40 AIDS patients.

    [18] Education Minister Babiniotis meets with university rectors

    Education Minister George Babiniotis on Tuesday met with representatives of university rectors who asked for emergency funding after outlining the dire financial situation of the country's tertiary education institutions.

    Many universities are on the verge of financial collapse following the conversion of their funds into Greek state bonds by the Bank of Greece (BoG) and the subsequent PSI bond swap scheme they were forced to accept in March.

    The minister of education pledged to do everything in his power to restore, even partially, the operation of the universities, stating that he fully understands the problems they are faced with.

    The issue was discussed earlier in a meeting between the prime minister and the minister of education.

    [19] Universities at risk of closing due to PSI bond swap

    Many of Greece's universities have been reduced to penury, with their accounts now approaching zero, following the conversion of their funds into Greek state bonds by the Bank of Greece and the subsequent PSI bond swap scheme they were forced to accept in March.

    An emergency council of university rectors on Tuesday said that only 33 million euro remained of 120 million euro that 17 Greek universities had deposited with the Bank of Greece for the operating expenses, while six university accounts were now completely empty and would soon be unable to stay open.

    The rectors decided to set up a legal committee to claim the money lost but at this point will focus on making university finances independent of the election of a governing board as demanded by the new framework-law and the approval of their 2012 budgets.

    [20] German General Consul in Thessaloniki visits Volos town hall

    Prospects of developing relations of cooperation between the city of Volos and cities in Germany, with the aim of utilising experience and know-how in various sectors, were discussed on Tuesday during a visit to the town hall of the Volos municipality by Germany's General Consul in Thessaloniki Wolfgang Hoelscher-Obermaier, accompanied by Germany's Honourary Consul in Volos G. Paparizos, in the framework of his visit on the 130th anniversary of the establishment of the German Consulate in Volos.

    The Volos mayor outlined the identity and advantages of the greater city of Volos for the German Consul and referred to the municipality's plans and actions. The two sides expressed the will for a continuation of cooperation on issues of developmental and environmental interest.

    Financial News

    [21] OECD calls for further structural reforms

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/V.Demiris)

    Greece, along with other Eurozone countries facing fiscal problems, were necessary to stick to their commitments, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Tuesday.

    Presenting the report, OECD's secretary general Angel Gurria said that austerity policies were not an end in itself but a necessary tool towards returning to economic recovery. Gurria also referred to the positive elements of a coordinated restructuring of the Greek debt.

    The OECD report also underlined, among others, some of the basic challenges facing the Greek economy, such as lifting hurdles in competition and boosting the participation of the private sector in economic activity in the country. In the labor market, the Organization recommended lowering labor costs and stressed the need to reforming the tax system, offering tax incentives to extending labor period for senior citizens and underlined the need to reduce taxation on labor and boosting education.

    Gurria called on Eurozone countries to agree -the soonest possible- on raising the size of a rescue fund to 1.0 trillion euros to better protecting the Eurozone's weakest links. OECD stressed that the debt crisis in the Eurozone was not over, although conditions in financial markets were more normal now. Fiscal consolidation was necessary and must be accompanied by a policy focusing on price stability, OECD said in a report, while it underlined the need to promoting structural reforms which will boost economic growth, improve debt sustainability and balance economic activity.

    [22] Eurobarometer: 31 pct of Greek SMEs in 'green' economy

    BRUSSELS (AMNA - M. Aroni)

    Greek small and medium-sized businesses are part of a European shift toward a green economy, based on the findings of a Eurobarometer poll released on Tuesday.

    According to the survey, 31 percent of SMEs in Greece offer green products and services as opposed to 26 percent in the EU and 18 percent are considering making their business greener in the future, compared with 8 percent in the EU.

    'Green' products and services are defined as those whose main function is to reduce environmental hazard, minimise pollution and save resources.

    In Greece, 40 percent of the companies belonging to the 'green' economy offer products and services with environmental features, such as organic foods. Another 30 percent are involved in the recycling of materials and 21 percent in the management of renewable energy sources or solid wastes.

    Based on the survey, 45 percent of SMEs in Greece (compared with 37 percent in the EU) have at least one full- or part-time employee whose work involves promoting green products and services.

    The European Commission noted that 'green' jobs are mostly created by SMEs rather than large companies, with the ratio of of green employees standing at 1:8 in SMEs and 1:33 in large companies.

    Approximately three in five (60 percent) of SMEs in Greece and the EU that sell green products or services have activity in green markets for more than three years, compared with 52 percent in the United States.

    The vast majority of green businesses in both Greece and the EU (87 percent) operate mainly in their national markets, while 37 percent of Greek 'green' businesses also operate in EU countries, 6 percent in Africa and the Middle East, 5 percent in Asia and the South Pacific and 5 percent in Latin America.

    Demand from customers is the main reason driving the offer of 'green' goods and services (40 percent), while another 30 percent is driven by company values and image. In Greece, 83 percent of SMEs (compared with 93 percent in the EU) are taking measures for an more efficient use of resources, with 52 percent saving energy, 65 percent recycling and 27 percent minimising waste.

    Financial incentives are considered the best means to help SMEs become greener, with 63 percent of Greek SMEs considering that tax relief, subisidies and loans are the best policy measures to support investments in energy efficiency. Another 37 perent of Greek SMEs that currently do not offer green products and services believe that financial incentives are the best means for them to develop a broad range of green products and services.

    [23] Greek exports up 37 pct in 2011

    Italy became the largest importer of Greek products in 2011, surpassing Germany for the second time in post-war history and the first time after 2008, while Turkey jumped to third place from sixth in 2010, overtaking Cyprus (fourth from third in 2010) and Bulgaria (sixth from fourth in 2010).

    The US remained at the seventh place, followed by the UK (eighth from fifth in 2010), France (ninth from eighth in 2010) and Romania (10th from ninth in 2010).

    An analysis of Greek export figures for 2011 also showed that 15 new products, mainly from building materials, machinery-packaging, fertilizers, food and beverage were included in the top 100 most exporting Greek products in 2011. Also seven new markets were included in the list of Greek export destinations (Tongo, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Benin, Bangladesh, Peru and Santa Helena), while Bahrain, Bahamas, Cameroon, Uruguay, Vietnam, Philippines and Surinam were excluded from the top 100 markets.

    Uzbekistan (1,044 pct), Argentina (645 pct), Singapore (470 pct), Georgia (434 pct), Saudi Arabia (145 pct), South Korea (143 pct), UAE (123 pct), Syria (110 pct), Turkey (104 pct), China (82 pct) and the US (81 pct) recorded the biggest percentage growth rates in 2010, while Jordan, Niger, Bahrain, Philippines, Iceland, Mexico, Bahamas and Kazakhstan recorded the biggest percentage declines of the year.

    Greek exports grew by 37 pct in 2011 to 22.451 billion euros, from 16.392 billion euros in 2010, reflecting a widening export activity throughout developed markets. Imports fell 10 pct in 2011, and as a result the country's trade deficit fell by 10.9 billion euros to 20.8 billion euros in 2011.

    The list with the country's top export product includes:

    2011 2010 Product description value 2011 (mln euros)

    1 1 Oil products 6,366.2

    2 6 Aluminium plates, films and leaves 562.5

    3 4 Confidentiality products 530.1

    4 2 Pharmaceuticals 475.6

    5 3 Fresh fish 451.6

    6 14 Iron or steel rods 356.8

    7 7 Pipes 340.8

    8 8 Processed vegetables 264.4

    9 9 Apricots, cherries, peaches 251.2

    10 5 Cotton 234.8

    11 10 Feta cheese/cephalotiri 234.2

    12 12 Fur/leather products 215.9

    13 11 Extra virgin olive oil 211.1

    14 23 Aluminium products 204.4

    [24] Trade deficit down 20.1pct in Jan. 2012

    Greece's trade balance deficit fell by 29.1 percent in January 2012, according to provisional figures released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday, attributed to a small increase in exports and a larger decline in imports spurred by a further drop in domstic consumption.

    ELSTAT, in a report, said that the total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, in January 2012 amounted to 2239.9 million euros (2882.1 million dollars) in comparison with 2655.1 million euros (3536.3 million dollars) in January 2011, recording a drop, in euros, of 15.6%.

    The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, in January 2012 amounted to 1200.4 million euros (1553.8 million dollars) in comparison with 1188.9 million euros (1593.0 million dollars) in January 2011, recording an increase, in euros, of 1.0%.

    The deficit of the trade balance, excluding oil products, in January 2012 amounted to 1039.5 million euros (1328.3 million dollars) in comparison with 1466.2 million euros (1943.3 million dollars) in January 2011, recording a drop, in euros, of 29.1%.

    [25] Greek real estate market says "current situation dramatic"

    Representatives of the Greek real estate market on Tuesday said a deep economic crisis and excessive taxation have created a dramatic situation in the domestic market and called for more fair taxes on real estate property "that any citizen can afford".

    Stratos Paradias, president of the Panhellenic Federation of the Real Estate Market (POMIDA), said that real estate transactions fell by at least 33 pct last year, compared with 2005, sales of large apartments in high-end areas fell by more than 70 pct in the 2009-2011 period, sales of used homes fell by more than 50 pct from 2009, while sales of holiday homes plunged 80 pct in the 2009-2011 period.

    Building permits fell by 40 pct in 2011, compared with 2010, after a 25 pct decline in the 2010/2009 period, leading around one million workers in the building sector in danger of unemployment. Paradias added that around 110-120,000 newly-built homes were unsold -an all-time record number- and urged the government to postpone the implementation of a new property tax, to lower tax rates and to offer incentives to taxpayers in order to avoid a massive wave of foreclosures and property auctions.

    [26] Flexopack reports improved 2011 results

    Flexopack Group on Tuesday reported higher 2011 results, with after tax and minorities profits rising 29.59 pct to 3.1 million euros from 2.393 million euros in 2010. After tax profits rose 27.44 pct to 3.084 million euros (consolidated) and by 26.43 pct to 3.325 million euros (parent). Consolidated turnover rose 5.12 pct to 47.473 million euros last year, while parent turnover rose 4.61 pct to 46.906 million euros. Consolidated EBITDA rose 9.38 pct to 6.961 million euros, while parent EBITDA totaled 6.926 million euros, up 12.44 pct from 2010. Pre-tax earnings rose 11.19 pct and 12.6 pct for the group and parent company in 2011 to 3.894 million euros and 4.137 million euros, respectively.

    [27] Bussiness Briefs

    -- Halcor Group on Tuesday reported after tax and minorities losses of 15.6 million euros, or 0.1539 euros per share, last year, up from a loss of 13.1 million euros or 0.1293 euros per share in 2010.

    [28] Greek stocks end significantly lower

    Greek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as bank shares suffered heavy losses reflecting market worries over a delay in starting a bank recapitalization plan. The composite index of the market fell

    1.91 pct to end at 752.70 points, with turnover rising slightly tot 45.818 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 3.04 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.95 pct and the Small Cap index fell 1.69 pct. The Telecoms (1.26 pct) and Utilities (1.04 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (8.04 pct), Technology (5.49 pct) and Health (4.01 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Viohalco (2.40 pct), PPC (1.58 pct) and OTE (1.26 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (17.5 pct), Alpha Bank (15.08 pct), Hellenic Postbank (12.68 pct) and Piraeus Bank (9.70 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 84 to 50 with another 35 issues unchanged. Sprider (25.69 pct), HOL (19.8 pct) and Ridenco (19.05 pct) were top gainers, while Varvaresos (19.15 pct), Sanyo Hellas (18.52 pct) and Eurobank (17.5 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +0.69%

    Commercial: -4.67%

    Construction: -0.60%

    Oil & Gas: -0.71%

    Personal & Household: -0.44%

    Raw Materials: -2.93%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.26%

    Technology: -5.49%

    Telecoms: +1.26%

    Banks: -8.04%

    Food & Beverages: -0.94%

    Health: -4.01%

    Utilities: +1.04%

    Chemicals: -3.76%

    Financial Services: -2.99%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.07

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.85

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.46

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.75

    National Bank of Greece: 2.14

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.66

    OPAP: 7.42

    OTE: 3.22

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.30

    Titan: 14.18

    [29] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.75 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaiing a low 12.947 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,043 contracts, worth 5.955 million euros, with 16,708 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 44,167 contracts worth 6.992 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (19,505), followed by Cyprus Bank (3,409), MIG (1,029), OTE (1,412), PPC (687), OPAP (950), Piraeus Bank (2,443), National Bank (11,446), Marfin Popular Bank (562), Mytilineos (367), Hellenic Postbank (804), GEK (304) and Intralot (193).

    [30] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 11-year Greek bond and the 10-year German benchmark bond shrank to 17.72 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, form 18.41 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 19.63 pct and the German Bund 1.91 pct. Turnover totaled 8.0 million euros, of which 6.0 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 2.0 million were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 1.43 pct, the six-month rate eased to 1.09 pct, the three-month rate fell 0.79 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 0.42 pct.

    [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.353

    Pound sterling 0.848

    Danish kroner 7.547

    Swedish kroner 9.026

    Japanese yen 112.23

    Swiss franc 1.223

    Norwegian kroner 7.684

    Canadian dollar 1.343

    Australian dollar 1.287

    General News

    [32] Healthcare sector mobilizations on Thursday

    All public hospitals, health centres, welfare services and ambulance service (EKAB) will operate with skeleton staff on Thursday, March 29, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Medical doctors and nurses will join the 4-hour work stoppage (from 11:30 a.m. until the end of the shift) called by ADEDY, the umbrella trade union in the public sector.

    According to a decision by their federation POEDHN, public hospital staff, EKAB ambulance service and welfare services' employees will hold a 5-hour work stoppage from 10:00 a.m. until 15:00 p.m.

    An ADEDY statement underlined that "the mobilizations are called in protest against the government policy in the health sector that leads to the downgrading and virtual dissolution of hospital and primary healthcare services with catastrophic consequences on the quality of the services offered to the people."

    [33] Metro, ISAP, Tram work-stoppage Wednesday

    The employees of Athens' commuter rail services have called a 4-hour warning work stoppage on Wednesday, in protest over the stance of the STASY S.A -- the state-run company that manages rail-based transport infrastructure in the greater Athens area -- administration on the signing of a Collective Labour Agreement.

    The employees of the Athens Metro, Tram and ISAP train will hold a work stoppage from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., which means that only bus services will be running in Athens during those hours.

    In a joint announcement, the unions of the three commuter rail services accuse the STASY administration of attempting to abolish the entire institutional framework with a view of downgrading not only the employees but also the transportation product provided.

    They warned that a reduction of the transportation provided, increase in tickets, ticket-evasion and transfers and layoffs of personnel have no relationship with restructuring of the companies to the benefit of the citizen.

    [34] Three suspects arrested in Athens for drug dealing

    Two Albanian nationals aged 31 and 41 and a 24-year-old woman from Bulgaria were arrested late Monday in Athens for drug dealing.

    Police, acting on a tip-off, located the suspects and, following a coordinated operation, arrested them.

    A total of 22.24 kilograms of cannabis, 4,000 euros in cash, two cars, a precision scale and five mobile phones were confiscated.

    The suspects will be sent before an Athens prosecutor.

    [35] One arrest for bank fraud in Athens

    A 35-year-old Syrian national was arrested, while other 4 people are still wanted, accused of bank fraud they committed by using forged documents and certificates to win the approval of loans for the purchase of private cars, Attica Police announced on Tuesday.

    The automobiles, purchased fraudulently from car dealerships, were resold with fake licence plates by the suspects who obtained huge profits.

    The financial damage caused to the defrauded bank is estimated at hundreds of thousands of euro. The investigation continues until the case is resolved.

    The 35-year-old, who was led before an examining judge on Tuesday, is also accused of being in the country illegally.

    [36] Unidentified man's body found

    The body of a man, believed to be a foreign national, was found on Tuesday in a farming area at Aghia Sotira, northwestern Attica region. The victim, approximately 30-35 years of age, had been hit on the left side of the head.

    Police re conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the death and the victim's identity.

    [37] 36 illegal migrants repatriated

    Thirty-six foreign nationals were returned to their countries of origin on Monday following the repatriation operations against illegal migration.

    Specifically, one Iranian, a Hungarian and thirty four Pakistanis left from Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" with destinations Teheran, Budapest and Islamabad.

    The cost of the repatriation is covered by the European Repatriations Fund.

    Weather forecast

    [38] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 21C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 18C.

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

    The regulations for legalising structures lacking building permits, the plan to create a network of centers for hosting illegal migrants, the postponement of tax decisions until after the elections, and delays in payment of salaries in a large number of enterprises were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The public sector collapsing".

    AVGHI: "Pre-electoral 'concentration camps' - 30 'holding' camps for illegal immigrants".

    AVRIANI: "ND-PASOK pre-electoral argument over hirings, taxis and taxes".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Presumed proof of lifestyle and taxes on unlicensed structures".

    ESTIA: "The economy in absolute stagnation".

    ETHNOS: "Default...in salary payments in 150,000 enterprises".

    IMERISSIA: "Confusion with the real estate properties".

    KATHIMERINI: "Plan for 30 illegal immigrant centers".

    LOGOS: "How the new cuts in the auxiliary pensions will be made".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The social security 'bomb' ready to explode in June".

    NIKI: "3 steps to reduce your rent by half".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Obstruct the creation of the concentration camps for migrants".

    TA NEA: "Pre-electoral theatrics with the structures lacking building permits".

    VRADYNI: "Guide to filling in the E1 income tax form - What mistakes to avoid".

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