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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-04-24

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

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

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 Issue No: 4053

CONTENTS

  • [01] FinMin: Fiscal consolidation efforts must continue
  • [02] FinMin meets with IMF chief, 'greater optimism for country's exit from crisis'
  • [03] PM meets head of exporters' association, discusses transition to export-based growth model
  • [04] PASOK repeats call for 2+2 party leader debates
  • [05] PASOK leader's TV interview
  • [06] PASOK's State Deputy ticket to be unveiled on Tuesday
  • [07] LAOS leader attacks PASOK, ND as 'subjugated'
  • [08] SYRIZA's Tsipras promises to put an end to pension cuts
  • [09] Independent Greeks leader: I will not cooperate with ND and PASOK
  • [10] DIMAR party leader attacks two mainstream party leaders
  • [11] Gov't assigns presentation of election results to IT firm
  • [12] Joint ministerial decision on air time for parties not represented in current Parliament
  • [13] 36 parties to vie in May 6 general elections
  • [14] Bank of Greece expects deeper-than-expected recession this year
  • [15] Greek fiscal deficit falls to 9.1% of GDP in 2011
  • [16] Greek deficit at 19.6bln euros in 2011 (provisional figures)
  • [17] Bondholders contesting PSI at Council of State reach roughly 7,000
  • [18] Transport minister inaugurates European conference on transport
  • [19] Stocks end 1.73 pct down
  • [20] Greek bond market closing report
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [23] Int'l conference on the protection of cultural goods to be launched in Athens
  • [24] Olympic Flame to pass through Kastellorizo
  • [25] Partially cloudy on Tuesday
  • [26] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] FinMin: Fiscal consolidation efforts must continue

    The continuation of a fiscal consolidation policies and restoring public finances to a sustainable trend were necessary to put the country on a stable course, Greek Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis said Monday.

    Commenting on the release of final statistics on the Greek fiscal deficit in 2011, the minister said he was optimistic that the country will present primary surpluses soon.

    Sahinidis stressed that Greece managed to reduce its fiscal deficit by 6.5 percentage points of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in a two-year period and noted that in terms of primary deficit, the improvement was even larger, at 8.2 percentage points, adding that the country has covered a great distance since its 2009 fiscal deficit figures.

    "A continuation of fiscal consolidation efforts, especially after a successful completion of a bond exchange program which lifts a heavy interest burden from state spending, is not only a necessity to lead the country out of the crisis, but will vindicate the sacrifices and efforts made by Greek citizens in the last two years," he said in a statement.

    [02] FinMin meets with IMF chief, 'greater optimism for country's exit from crisis'

    WASHINGTON (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek finance minister Filippos Sahinidis met with Interna-tional Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde in Washington on Sunday on the sidelines of the IMF spring meeting held over the weekend.

    Speaking to reporters after the talks with Lagarde, Sahinidis said the discussion was held in a positive climate which he said was emerging following the approval of the programme and successful PSI.

    He said the talks also included the recapitalisation of the Greek banks and the country's cooperation with the IMF and the other Troika members, while it also pointed out was the importance of completing the process of capital shielding so that the banks will be able to play their developmental role.

    "Today, there is greater optimism for the country's exit from the crisis. We discussed the progress in the implementation of the programme and the execution of the budget in the first quarter of 2012, which is on target," Sahinidis added.

    Sahinidis said he also had several meetings with IMF and US government officials, with whom he discussed a series of matters concerning current Greek and international economic developments.

    [03] PM meets head of exporters' association, discusses transition to export-based growth model

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Monday met the president of the Hellenic Association of Exporters Christina Sakellaridis in order to discuss ways to make the transition from so-called "opportunist" exports imposed by necessity to a viable, modern export-based growth model for the country.

    Leaving the meeting, Sakellaridis said that the premier's conviction about the need to establish a stable business framework - in terms of the tax system, greater liquidity for the market and by lifting bureaucratic obstacles - was a "factor for optimism".

    She stressed that the continued rise in Greek exports was an issue of national importance and that the implementation of a consistent national export-based strategy "the basis of a national consensual growth policy".

    [04] PASOK repeats call for 2+2 party leader debates

    The PASOK party on Monday repeated its proposal for 2+2 party leader debates - two between the leaders of the two largest parties PASOK and New Democracy and two with the participation of other political parties.

    PASOK spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata said that PASOK had sent a letter to ND press spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on this issue on Saturday, urging ND to "finally reply".

    [05] PASOK leader's TV interview

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said on Monday night that the EC/ECB/IMF troika was ready to agree to an extension of Greece's fiscal adjustment programme.

    Speaking during an interview with the ANT1 TV channel, Venizelos also said that the IMF was ready to contribute with 8.2 billion euros.

    [06] PASOK's State Deputy ticket to be unveiled on Tuesday

    PASOK's State Deputy list will be presented on Tuesday at the party's offices in Athens.

    Meanwhile, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos will tour on Friday the cities of Tripolis and Patras and on Saturday will present at a special event in Athens the party's governmental platform. Later on Saturday Venizelos will visit Thrace region.

    On Sunday, Venizelos will be in Larissa and afterwards will go to Thessaloniki where he will speak at a rally in Thessaloniki port.

    [07] LAOS leader attacks PASOK, ND as 'subjugated'

    In a press conference at Zappion on Monday, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis attacked PASOK and main opposition New Democracy and ruled out post-election cooperation with any "subjugated" party that signed the second memorandum for the loans to Greece.

    Karatzaferis said this agreement, signed by the leaders of PASOK and ND, had handed over Greece's national sovereignty to its European partners and set up a unique form of "dictatorship" where nothing could be done without the approval of European Commission and IMF officials.

    He also termed PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos "a habitual liar" and asked why ND leader Antonis Samaras, as an influential member of the Papademos government for the past five months, had failed to carry out any of the economic measures he had unveiled on Sunday in Zappion.

    Among others, he pointed out that Samaras had failed to uphold a promise to pensioners to stop any further cuts in their pensions, folding under pressure from the head of the IMF mission in Athens Poul Thomsen.

    "Mr. Samaras cannot do any of the things he said unless Thomsen allows it because [ND] signed, with PASOK, that as long as they are in politics they will not deviate from the Memorandum," he said.

    However, he left open the possibility of a future cooperation government "if the two leaders first repented".

    According to Karatzaferis, PASOK and ND had already made a commitment to reducing salaries in June and he referred to page 427 of the Memorandum, which he said called for salaries in Greece to be brought to the same level as those in Bulgaria.

    LAOS's leader said that the way out of the crisis was to form a strong alliance of southern European countries against Germany.

    "It is not just Italy, Spain and Portugal but also France in the resistance group against Merkel. The south can impose things on the North and Merkel with the addition of France," he said.

    LAOS's leader predicted that the two larger parties, PASOK and ND, would receive more than 150 seats in the 300-seat Parliament at the elections and did not rule out an eventual return to the drachma. He also unveiled the party's list of state deputies, with publisher Georgios Kyrtsos in first place.

    [08] SYRIZA's Tsipras promises to put an end to pension cuts

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday underlined the need to put an end to pension reductions.

    Speaking in an Open Care Centre for the Elderly (KAPI) in Athens' Petroupoli district, Tsipras said to his audience "if you want to see how it will be having your pensions reduced further you should vote for PASOK and New Democracy (ND)," and called on them to support SYRIZA in May's elections.

    He said that "PASOK and ND will get what they deserve from the pensioners because both parties have proceeded with three pension cuts in two years turning pensions into nothing more but breadcrumbs."

    "The veterans of life, the people who worked hard all their lives to have a dignified retirement do not deserve such treatment," Tsipras underlined.

    [09] Independent Greeks leader: I will not cooperate with ND and PASOK

    Not even dead would I cooperate with New Democracy (ND) or PASOK after the elections," stated on Monday the leader of the Independent Greeks and former ND deputy Panos Kammenos, speaking to the private radio ANT1.

    "At this moment our country is in danger. Our effort is not petty politics, it is a national one," he said and accused ND leader Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos of being "partners and employees of the bankers and (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schauble" and of "carrying out, on their knees, the orders of Poul Thomsen (the head of the IMF delegation in the Troika)".

    [10] DIMAR party leader attacks two mainstream party leaders

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) party leader Fotis Kouvelis on Monday sternly attacked PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras that they are giving to the Greek citizens promises and 'bounced checks' and they are playing with the society's pain.

    Speaking to his party's candidates, Kouvelis noted that "it is too much, that these architects of the chaos are threatening with chaos in the event that they are not voted for"

    Moreover, he said that his party is the power that can reverse this policy and give hope and prospect to Greece and society.

    [11] Gov't assigns presentation of election results to IT firm

    Interior Minister Tassos Yannitsis on Monday announced that the SingularLogic Integrator firm will again be awarded the task of collecting, processing and presenting the May 6 parliamentary election results to the country's media.

    The project, with a budget of just more than three million euros, includes printing the necessary material to be used to collect and enter election results in a user-friendly electronic data bank and archival system.

    Also, the contractor will undertake the presentation of election results graphics on television, presentation and testing of the system in the presence of interior ministry officials and am online presentation of the election results directly from the polling station via the safe transmission system SRT.

    [12] Joint ministerial decision on air time for parties not represented in current Parliament

    An additional joint ministerial decision on the broadcast time allocated to political parties that were not represented in the latest parliament and will run in the May 6 national elections, was signed on Monday by Interior Minister Tassos Yannitsis and Minister of State Pantelis Kapsis.

    The new joint ministerial decision was signed in response to a temporary ruling issued by the Council of State (CoS), the highest administrative court, following a complaint filed by "Drasi" and "Liberal Alliance" political parties.

    The decision concerns the political parties "Drasi"-"Liberal Alliance", "Union of Centrists", "Laikos Syndesmos"-"Chryssi Avgi", "ANTARSYA", "OXI", "Dimosthenis Vergis-Greek Ecologists".

    According to the joint ministerial decision, the political parties or party coalitions that received at least 0.25 pct or 0.50 pct in the previous national elections or European Parliament elections, will be allocated broadcast time in public-run ERT radio and television network.

    Specifically, ERT will have to broadcast an election campaign rally or other political event organized by each of the political parties in question, a 45-minute-long interview of their leader or representative and two free five-minute-long political campaign advertisements. ERT will allow a live broadcast of a political rally or any other political event to be transmitted by any private radio or television station that will file a relevant request.

    Private radio or television stations will have to broadcast two free five-minute-long political campaign advertisements prepared by each of the political parties.

    After the political party ballots are formally announced by the Supreme Court, another ministerial decision will be signed to decide on the exact air time to be allocated to the political parties in question based on the number of constituencies in which their candidates will run.

    [13] 36 parties to vie in May 6 general elections

    A total of 36 parties, coalitions and individuals submitted to the Greek supreme court (Areios Pagos) petitions for participation in the May 6 parliamentary elections by the deadline on Sunday night.

    Areios Pagos will subsequently check the validity of the petitions.

    Financial News

    [14] Bank of Greece expects deeper-than-expected recession this year

    Bank of Greece's governor is expected to present worse-than-expected forecasts over economic developments in the country this year and recommend faster implementation of reforms for the return of the economy to a growth course by 2013, in a report to be published on Tuesday.

    According to sources, the bank's annual report on monetary policy is expected to forecast that economic recession will surpass 4.5 pct this year, while unemployment was projected to surpass 19 pct, from 17.7 pct in 2011.

    The same sources said that George Provopoulos, the central banker, will recommend faster implementation of reforms and adopting a national strategy to lead the economy back to growth in 2013. The central banker believes that the first positive steps have been made already, such as completion of PSI and a recapitalization of banks.

    The Bank of Greece will stress that the economy is at a crucial turning point and underline the necessity to stick to the commitments resulting from a new loan agreement. The report will also underline that policies implemented in the past two years fell short of original targets mainly because of a deeper-than-expected recession in the country. Provopoulos will stress that if the current program was fully implemented, the economy will manage to return to a growth course.

    [15] Greek fiscal deficit falls to 9.1% of GDP in 2011

    Greece's fiscal deficit reached 9.1 pct of the country's GDP in 2011, while the public debt rose and the economy shrank further, official figures showed on Monday.

    Eurostat and the Hellenic Statistical Authority, in figures released simultaneously, said the general government's deficit fell to 9.1 pct of GDP last year (19.565 billion euros), from 10.3 pct of GDP (23.521 billion euros) in 2010 -- 15.6 pct of GDP (36.103 billion euros) in 2009 and 9.8 pct of GDP (22.866 billion euros) in 2008.

    The central government's deficit totaled 18.817 billion euros in 2011, while the pension funds' deficit totaled 1.296 billion euros (after a surplus of 3.039 billion euros in 2010) and local authorities reported a surplus of 548 million euros in 2011 after a deficit of 569 million in 2010.

    Greece's public debt continued growing to 165.3 pct of GDP (355.617 billion euros) in 2011, the highest in Europe. The country's public debt was at 113 pct of GDP (263.284 billion euros) in 2008, at 129.4 pct (299.685 billion) in 2009 and 145 pct (329.535 billion) in 2010. Following completion of the PSI programme and the continuation of a tight fiscal policy, international organisations predict that the country's public debt will fall to 2009 levels in 2020.

    A deep recession hitting the Greek economy was fully reflected in the development of the Gross Domestic Product (in real prices). The GDP shrank steadily in the last four years from 232.920 billion euros in 2008 to 231.642 billion in 2009, to 227.318 billion in 2010 and to 215.088 billion euros in 2011.

    General government spending totaled 50.1 pct of GDP, or 107.769 billion euros last year, slightly down from 50.2 pct in 2010, while general government revenues totaled 40.9 pct of GDP, or 88.075 billion euros, up from 39.7 pct in 2010. These figures reflect spending cuts in the public sector and a large shortfall in revenues.

    The International Monetary Fund, in its latest report, said it expected the Greek economy to shrink by more than 4.7 pct in 2012 and to present a zero growth in 2013. The fiscal deficit will fall to 7.2 pct of GDP in 2012, to 4.6 pct in 2013, to 2.1 pct in 2014 and to 1.6 pct of GDP in the period 2015-2017. The public debt is projected to rise to 160.9 pct of GDP this year, falling gradually to 158.1 pct in 2014 and to 150.9 pct in 2015.

    [16] Greek deficit at 19.6bln euros in 2011 (provisional figures)

    Greece's fiscal deficit is estimated at 19.6 billion euros, or 9.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2011, according to provisional figures announced on Monday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

    ELSTAT announced the fiscal data for the years 2008-2011 compiled in the context of the first Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) notification of 2012, which was transmitted to Eurostat in fulfillment of Greece's obligations according to Council Regulation (EC) 479/2009, as amended. The notification was compiled in cooperation with Eurostat.

    According to provisional source data, the deficit of the General Government for 2011, as measured under the EDP, is estimated at 19.6 billion euros (9.1% of Gross Domestic Product), while the gross consolidated General Government debt at year-end 2011 is estimated at a nominal value of 355.6 billion euros (165.3% of Gross Domestic Product).

    [17] Bondholders contesting PSI at Council of State reach roughly 7,000

    Approximately 7,000 bond holders were represented in dozens of class action suits currently before the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, contesting government decisions for a haircut of Greek bonds. The number of cases before the court reached 72 on Monday, with as many as 200 plaintiffs represented by each suit, while the nominal value of the bonds in question amount to dozens of billions of euros.

    Among the plaintifss are several companies, such as pharmaceutical companies and suppliers of medical equipment and consumables, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, professional associations and social insurance funds.

    The ACCI, for example, claims in its suit that the decision has slashed its reserves from nearly 11 billion euro on March 9 to just 5.6 billion euro at present, while it emphasises that these amounts were not the result of state subsidies but exclusively from the contributions of its members.

    [18] Transport minister inaugurates European conference on transport

    Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Makis Voridis inaugurated on Monday the proceedings of a European Transport Research Area - TRA 2012 conference, in Athens.

    The minister said he did not want to expand on his ministry's policies, due to the current electoral campaign.

    [19] Stocks end 1.73 pct down

    Stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday hit by a negative climate in other European markets on the aftermath of the results of the first round of Presidential elections in France and news of political uncertainty in Holland.

    The composite index of the market fell 1.73 pct to end at 702.17 points, while turnover remained a low 24.126 million euros. Shares of OTE and PPC suffered heavy losses, while banks shares also came under pressure with the exception of Alpha Bank and Eurobank.

    The Big Cap index fell 2.15 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.48 pct down and the Small Cap index ended 2.38 pct lower.

    The Health sector (0.30 pct) was the only to record gains, while Telecoms (7.53 pct), Commerce (7.41 pct) and Utilities (4.94 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Alpha Bank (2.80 pct) and Eurobank (2.72 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while OTE (7.53 pct), Folli Follie (7.45 pct), PPC (6.91 pct), Hellenic Postbank (6.17 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (5.94 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 84 to 38 with another 17 issues unchanged. Attica Bank (26.79 pct), Dromeas (23.87 pct) and HOL (19.8 pct) were top gainers, while Progressive (23.01 pct), Neorio (19.60 pct) and Lambrakis Press (19.46 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -2.56%

    Commercial: -7.41%

    Construction: -0.62%

    Oil & Gas: -0.87%

    Personal & Household: -1.92%

    Raw Materials: -2.21%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.02%

    Technology: -1.50%

    Telecoms: -7.53%

    Banks: -2.15%

    Food & Beverages: -0.05%

    Health: +0.30%

    Utilities: -4.94%

    Chemicals: Unchanged

    Financial Services: -2.74%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, National Bank, OTE and PPC.

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.10

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 2.56

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.70

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.58

    National Bank of Greece: 1.70

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.64

    OPAP: 6.92

    OTE: 2.70

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.26

    Titan: 14.43

    [20] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 19.75 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 19.4 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 21.39 pct and the German Bund 1.64 pct. Turnover was a thin one million euros, representing one buy order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 1.34 pct, the six-month rate was 1.02 pct, the three-month 0.73 pct and the one-month rate 0.40 pct.

    [21] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.93 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 6.966 million euros. Volume in the Big Cap index totaled 1,520 contracts worth 2.041 million euros, with 21,122 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 34,186 contracts worth 4.925 million euros with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (17,122), followed by National Bank (10,809), OTE (1,062), PPC (1,139), Piraeus Bank (1,259), Cyprus Bank (1,282), Mytilineos (474), Hellenic Postbank (199), OPAP (129), and Motor Oil (80).

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.332

    Pound sterling 0.828

    Danish kroner 7.551

    Swedish kroner 8.994

    Japanese yen 108.11

    Swiss franc 1.219

    Norwegian kroner 7.672

    Canadian dollar 1.329

    Australian dollar 1.296

    General News

    [23] Int'l conference on the protection of cultural goods to be launched in Athens

    The protection of cultural goods will be the focus of an international conference to take place at the New Acropolis Museum in Athens on May 19, hosted by the Hellenic Society for Law and Archaeology in cooperation with Germany's Institut f?r Kunst und Recht IFKUR e.V.

    The international conference entitled "Cross-Border Movement of Cultural Goods" will focus on exchanging and recording experiences from the appropriate or inadequate implementation of national and international legal framework concerning the movement of cultural goods, as well as, on proposals aimed at improving the existing protection framework.

    The relevant legal frameworks currently in effect in Greece, Switzerland, Germany and Austria will be used as examples of legislation for the protection of cultural goods.

    Olympic Games

    [24] Olympic Flame to pass through Kastellorizo

    The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) on Monday announced that, following a decision by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, the extreme southeast Aegean island of Kastellorizo will be included in the Olympic Torch Relay across the country ahead of the London Olympic Games.

    The Olympic Flame will arrive on the islet on May 11, a day after the formal lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia and after traveling to the island of Crete. HOC President Spyros Capralos will be one of the torchbearers.

    The Olympic Torch Relay will be completed on May 17 with the arrival of the Olympic Flame at Athens' Panathinaiko Stadium to be handed over to the "London 2012" Olympic Games organizing committee.

    The Olympic Flame will conclude its 3,000-kilometers-long journey across Greece passing through more than 43 cities and carried by 500 torchbearers before being flown to the UK for the London Olympic Games to be launched on July 27.

    Weather forecast

    [25] Partially cloudy on Tuesday

    Partially cloudy weather with some brief showers and even storms, especially in western parts of the country, is forecast on Tuesday. Light winds blowing from mainly southerly directions, ranging from 3-5 Beaufort. Temperatures will be between 10C and 26C. Partially cloudy with possible morning rain over Athens, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 25C. Clouds mixed with sunshine in Thessaloniki, possible showers in the morning, and temperatures from 10C to 25C.

    [26] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The first round of Presidential elections in France, the recession and the political leaders' campaigns ahead of the May 6 general elections in Greece, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "This is the way to exit the crisis!".

    AVRIANI: "New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras' plan for the economy".

    DIMOKRATIA: "New thriller with the phone tapping when Costas Karamanlis was prime minister".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Samaras: Clear mandate for exit from the crisis".

    ESTIA: "Samaras announces tax reductions".

    ETHNOS: "French hope with Francois Hollande's victory in the first round of French elections".

    IMERISSIA: "Banks' ordeal".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Bank of Greece forecasts deeper recession".

    TA NEA: "Ultra-right getting brasher!".

    VRADYNI: "Samaras' credible proposal to exit the crisis".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS


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