|Wednesday, 24 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-06-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 1 June 2012 Issue No: 4085
 Samaras promises 150,000 new jobs, 18 measures to boost economyNew Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday described the framework in which he would seek to renegotiate the terms of the bailout agreements for Greece if his party won the elections and promised action that would create 150,000 new jobs in the private sector, while speaking at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA).
"We are at the most crucial crossroads of the last few decades," Samaras noted, outlining his party's proposals for what he said would be the "first steps" in order for Greeks to "change their fate".
"There are three priorities: Recovery-relief, renegotiation in a Europe that is changing, justice and security. Citizens will gain positions of employment. Jobs, jobs jobs. Relief for households and the business world," he emphasised.
ND's leader particularl emphasised the importance of Greece staying in the euro "with renegotiation that has nothing to do with a unilateral repudiation of the Memorandum suggested by some others," he said.
Other issues emphasised in his speech were restoring the injustices already perpetrated and taking measures to protect the public from crime and illegal migration.
He also promised to unblock Community funds available under the National Strategic Reference Framework for major infrastructure projects and lead to liquidity for small and medium-sized enterprises.
"Once we stop the rise in unemployment by the end of the year, in the first half of 2013 emphasis will be given on creating jobs. We can create 150,000 jobs in the first six months, apart from those that will arise from the project eurobonds. We are talking about the private sector. I will also seek investments throughout the world," Samaras said.
ND's leader said an escape from the current mire could be achieved both with measures "renegotiated" with Greece's creditors and "measures we can take ourselves", presenting a list of 18 such proposals.
The list included restoring low pensions, child benefits for large families and other special benefits to the same levels as in 2009, to compensate bond holders and social insurance funds for the damage the suffered as a result of PSI, prolonging unemployment benefit for two years, introducing an unemployment benefit for the self-employed that were not currently eligible, and settlements to ensure that the tax burden over the past couple of years did not exceed 25 percent of the average family income, with the rest payable at a later date.
He also promised action to shore up wages in the private sector, saying that lower wages would not lead to growth
Once state revenue had stabilised, he added, the tax free allowance will be raised first to 8,000 euro and then 10,000 euro and the current taxes on property will be replaced by a new uniform property tax, with further tax reforms to ease the tax burden on businesses and individuals, such as an immediate reduction on VAT for catering businesses.
Samaras said he would try to spread the 11.5-billion euro in cost cutting measures over another two years, so that cuts amounting to just 3.5 billion euro would be made in 2013 rather than 7.0 billion, making it possible to find the money by restricting wasteful spending rather than cutting wages.
He also promised not to fire state-sector employees for three years after state organisations closed down, measures to ease the lot of those with high loans over 30 percent of their monthly income, measures suspending repercussions of blacklisting on Teiresias, cash injections for small businesses, 'netting' debts owed to the public sector with money owed by the public sector and action allowing privatisations and the sale of state real property.
Finally, Samaras called for policies to enhance the public safety and fight crime and illegal migration as well as a faster declaration of an exclusive economic zone in Greek seas.
 SYRIZA on Samaras proposalsThe Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), in an announcement on the 18-point proposal announced on Thursday afternoon by New Democracy (ND) party president Antonis Samaras, stressed that "the 18 proposals of Mr.Samaras constitute 18 steps towards the completion of the hell of the memorandum."
SYRIZA further stresses that Samaras "is reiterating the extortions of the creditors, adorned with a divisive speech of the previous decades, corresponding to a force that has provenly failed long ago."
It also noted that "the message sent on May 6 and which will be reconfirmed in the upcoming elections is the final condemnation of the demolishing policies of the memorandum, while what in essence is distancing Greece from the eurozone is the submission to the mandates of capital and the creditors."
 PM Pikrammenos appeals to businessmen to support economy's recoveryCaretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, addressing Thursday the annual general assembly of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB), stressed the need for the country's production model to change, signalling in this way the necessary growth for the economic crisis Greece is experiencing to be overcome.
The prime minister also appealed to businessmen to support the recovery of the Greek economy, keeping their investments in the country.
"Growth means today, very simply, a change in the model of the economy that produces the country's GDP. It means serious structural changes, changes in the policies for private investments, the utilisation of EU funds, drastic simplification of the business environment, a turn to sectors of economic activity with added value for the country and the national income, such as for example exports and innovation," he said.
He added that the meaning of growth today "cannot mean again an increase in GDP through consumption and the swelling of the introversive sectors of the economy."
The prime minister further said that "through the crisis Greece is turning a page in its history. How we shall respond to the crisis today, we Greeks and our European partners will affect generations of Greeks and Europeans in the future."
Pikrammenos also reffered to support for tourism, saying that "it is the duty of all of us to do what we can so that Greece will remain an attractive destination, proving in practice that real Greece is not that which is conveyed as an image to the international media. To give the message that today is the opportunity for tourism in Greece."
 PASOK leader: We must safeguard tourism economyPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said that Greek tourism has been severely wounded due to the bad image of the political instability abroad, especially in a difficult period when the tourist season is in full swing, during a meeting on Thursday with the leadership of the Greek Tourism Enterprises Association (SETE)
He also noted that we must find a way to restore Greece's positive image and to protect and safeguard the tourism economy because a further worsening of the conditions in tourism will make the recession deeper and will further inflate unemployment.
Venizelos said that PASOK has an open dialogue with the world of tourism and its entities and underlined that it is absolutely mandatory to speak the truth and to do whatever we can, before and after the elections, in order to deal with the problems faced by the tourism sector which, he noted, is "the largest industry of the country with a major contribution to the GDP and to employment".
 Venizelos: Local governments have role in social protection, growth effortsPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said his party's position and his own belief is that Greece can reach, and will reach, a guaranteed standard of dignified living, during a meeting with the presidium of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE).
He said that this could be achieved with the help of the municipalities, with a well-targeted public expenditure, in such a way that no one will feel helpless and abandoned amidst the crisis. Indeed, he explained, if the local authorities could pinpoint the citizens who truly have need -- so as to avoid the rationale of across-the-board benefits and to target-in on those who have problems -- "we can organise a network with all the characteristics of the guaranteed level of dignified living".
Greece, he said, was in the final stage of an acute crisis, adding that the solutions must come from the social state and the institutions, and not be founded philanthropy.
He said that the local administrations can play a strong role in the social protection networks, not only through existing programmes such as "Help at Home" and the network of national welfare institutions, but also through initiatives "that are at the crux between social protection and growth" and aim at dealing with the problem of unemployment, especially among young people.
 Kammenos visits Bank of Greece, briefed by ProvopoulosAll terror-scenarios that Greece is being pushed out of the euro by the foreigners have been fully discredited, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos said on Thursday after a meeting with central Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos.
After the meeting between a party delegation headed by Kammenos with the central bank chief, Kammenos said that "the terror-mongering of [New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras] and [PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos] that there is supposedly a mechanism that can push Greece back to the drachma has been fully discredited".
Kammenos said that the central bank chief had assured him that this was absolutely untrue and also fully confirmed that the signatory party in the forced loan to the Nazi occupation regime was the Greek state and not the Bank of Greece.
"This means that the finance ministry has the option of demanding and seeking compensation from Germany," Kammenos said and urged the finance ministry's leadership to do this.
He said the BoG was prepared to give the political parties access to the Black Rock report on the state of the banks and attacked former premier Lucas Papademos, PASOK and ND for refusing to allow the finance ministry to table the report in Parliament for inspection by MPs and of "playing terror-mongering games at the expense of Greek citizens".
Provopoulos also briefed the Independent Greeks delegation concerning the fate of a legal case concerning credit default swaps (CDS) on Greek debt - in which Kammenos had personally alleged the involvement of the brother of former Greek premier George Papandreou. According to the Ind. Greeks leader, the Bank of Greece had referred the case to the appropriate public prosecutor and it would likely be investigated "in order to reveal who led matters to the bailouts and the people to impoverishment".
 Papariga: Measures to protect the unemployedCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said that an unemployment benefit should b provided for all the unemployed without conditions, at the same time demanding protection measures for the unemployed and their families, addressing a gathering of unemployed in Piraeus on Wednesday night.
Among the protection measures she proposed are payment by the unemployed of 30 percent of the social service bills such as electricity, water and telephone services, free cards for public transport, suspension of payments on loans without penalty interest upon resumption of repayment installments, and prohibition of foreclosures for debts.
Papariga charged that the political parties saying that Greece must remain in the EU and the euro at all costs are at the same time "trafficking in hope, at the expense of 1.2 million unemployed, with the aim of grabbing votes, when the only thing they promise is a minor increase of the unemployment benefit".
"We don't consider an increase in the unemployment benefit the only measure that can be taken," she said, and anticipated that "the number of unemployed will rise given that every day small shops are going out of business daily, farmers are stopping production, and the first condition for the privatisations is a reduction of the personnel".
 DIMAR leader says new discussion of ecumenical gov't a possibilityDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Thursday left open the possibility of a new discussion for the formation of an ecumenical government, speaking on private radio station Real.
Kouvelis opined that it will not be easy for a government to be formed via other ways, and so it's very possible the issue of an ecumenical government will once again be put on the table.
"The country needs a progressive government in order to avoid a third election round, with the two conditions we have set out: The country's continued stay in the eurozone and the gradual disengagement from the Memorandum's policies," said Kouvelis, and reiterated that any post-elections cooperation can be formed only on the basis of a programme agreement. He also underlined, that these conditions can't be fulfilled as long as SYRIZA continues to remain adamant on a unilateral abrogation of the memorandum.
Referring to National Bank of Greece's report, Kouvelis said that it was "an intervention in a pre-elections landscape which is under great pressure" adding that the time of this intervention was extremely inappropriate.
 Latest opinion poll keeps ND in first placeNew Democracy (ND) retains a lead over Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), according to results of an opinion poll made public by the Athens-based television station Alpha on Thursday and conducted by polling company Marc.
According to the opinion poll conducted by Marc, ND garners 26 pct of voters' preferences, followed by SYRIZA with 24.3 pct.
PASOK is at 12.5 pct, the Independent Greeks 6.3 pct, followed by the Communist Party (KKE) 5.7 pct, Democratic Left (DIM.AR) 5.3 pct, Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn party) 4.2 pct, Dimiourgia Xana 2.5 pct, Ecologists-Greens and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) each get 1 pct.
Based on the unclear vote, ND receives 28.8 pct (127 seats), SYRIZA 27 pct (72 seats), PASOK 13.9 pct (37 seats), Independent Greeks 7 pct (19 seats), KKE 6.3 pct (17 seats), DIM.AR 5.9 pct (16 seats), and Chryssi Avgi 4.6 pct (12 seats).
The majority of the respondents (65.9 pct) want the renegotiation of the loan agreement, 21.7 pct want its termination and 8.9 pct say that the country should meet its commitments.
In case the terms of the loan agreement are not changed in a satisfactory manner, 72.9 pct of the respondents say that Greece should stay in the eurozone "at any cost", while 19 pct say that the country should terminate the agreements and return to its old national currency, the drachma.
 ND party leading with 2.3 pc, poll showsAn opinion poll carried out by Alco and publicised in the newsit website gives the New Democracy (ND) party a 2.3 percent lead in respondents' preferences.
According to the poll, ND is ahead with 25 percent and is followed by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) with 22.7, PASOK 12.5, Independent Greeks 6.5, Democratic Left 5.2, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 5, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) 4.5, Dimiourgia Xana 2.2, Ecologists 1.4 and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 1 percent.
On the question of who is the best to seek amendments in the memorandum, ND leader Antonis Samaras and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras are equal with 21 percent, but 30 percent declare "neither."
 Election results to be presented by Singular Logic againInterior Minister Antonis Manitakis is assigning Singular Logic with the task of collecting, processing and presenting the results of the June 17 Pariamentary elections.
The company that "has carried out with success the same task in all the previous elections from 1981 until today," the decision by Manitakis says, will receive for its work the amount of 2,152,500 euros, including VAT, meaning a fee that is less by 800,000 euros compared to the recent May 6 elections.
 Commission suspends action against Greece over services directiveBRUSSELS (AMNA - V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Thursday announced a decision to shelve action against Greece for incomplete transposition of the EU services directive into national law. According to the Commission, Greek authorities informed the Commission that all necessary measures for full transposition of the directive had been taken, though the Commission will continue to monitor that they are implemented in practice and reserves the right to take action if they are not being fully implemented.
On October 27, 2011, the Commission decided to refer Austria, Germany and Greece to the Court of Justice, and to ask the Court to impose penalty payments on these Member States, on the ground that they have so far only partially transposed the Services Directive. The Directive on services in the internal market was adopted on 12 December 2006 and the time-limit for its transposition was 28 December 2009.
This was the first time the Commission made use of the new possibility offered by the Lisbon Treaty to request the Court, as soon as a case is referred, to impose daily penalty payments on Member States that have not fully transposed the Directive by the time the judgment finding it has failed to fulfil its obligations is delivered. From January 2010 the Commission initiated proceedings against the last three member-states that had failed to transpose the Directive on time.
German and Austria informed the Commission that they had completed transposition of the final measures into national law in January 2012 and April 2012, respectively, and measures against them were concluded on January 26 and April 26.
Since Greece also fully complied with the directive, all EU member-states have now fully transposed the services directive into their national legislations.
 Barroso confirms Papademos denial of 'request for tough statement on Greece'BRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Spinthourakis)
A spokesperson for European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday night confirmed a denial issued by former Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos earlier in the day that the latter had asked him to make 'tough statements' on Greece, as claimed by a foreign news agency.
The spokesperson said that no pressure was ever exerted on the Commission president, nor was any request submitted to him by former Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos, to make "tough statements on Greece.
The spokesperson further said that Barroso agrees with the statement on the issue made earlier by Papademos.
Former interim prime minister Lucas Papademos on Wednesday denied the contents of a recent dispatch by a foreign news agency according to which European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso's statement that Greece must abide by its commitments or leave the euro had come at the request of Papademos himself.
"I did not ask of anyone to make any statement, nor did I speak with anyone at my own initiative during those days. Some sides want to create a problem," Papademos said on private VIMA FM radio station.
According to a recent Reuters dispatch Barroso, during an interview on Italian television on May 11 and asked about SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' plans to annul the bailout agreement, replied that if a member of the club does not follow the rules, it is better for that member to leave the club.
The markets panicked, the Greeks were livid and Barroso drew criticism, according to the dispatch which, citing an unnamed Commission official, added that the most annoying thing, however, for Barroso is that he had no intention of making such a tough statement, but did so because he received a phone call from 'caretaker' (sic) prime minister Lucas Papademos asking him to do so.
According to the dispatch Papademos, disappointed by the failure to form a coalition government after the May 6 elections in Greece, wanted from Barroso to 'address a strong message" in the hope that this would awaken the Greek political leaders.
"It was not a Barroso initiative, but a direct request" that did not work, the dispatch cited an unnamed Commission official as saying.
 IMF says has great respect for Greece, committed to supportNEW YORK (AMNA/P.Panagiotou)
The IMF and its Managing Director, Christine Lagarde feel "great respect for Greece and its people and for the sacrifices many Greeks are making to overcome an economic crisis," Gerry Rice, Director of the External Relations Department of the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Rice added that "for the past couple of years the IMF is making great efforts to support Greece". The IMF official stressed that comments made by Mme Lagarde were "misunderstood" and noted that the Fund was open to ideas over a lending agreement while he reiterated that the IMF was committed to supporting Greece.
 ECB resumes lending to four Greek banks after recapitalisationEuropean Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi announced that it has resumed lending to four Greek banks following their recapitalisations, during a discussion in the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.
Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), Draghi reassured MEPs that the ECB would keep open its liquidity lines to all solvent banks and had just begun lending again to four Greek banks, further to their recapitalisations.
The ECB had announced on May 16 that it had temporarily stopped lending to National Bank of Greece (NBG), EFG-Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank to limit its risk, until they sufficiently boosted their capital.
Following the finalisation of the recapitalisation process of the four banks, they have now regained access to standard Eurosystem refinancing operations.
 Greek banks' dependence from ECB, ELA at 125.2 bln eurosGreek banks' dependence from funding operations of the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece's emergency liquidity assistance totaled 125.2 billion euros at the end of March, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that Greek banks' dependence from ECB funding decreased to 49.8 billion euros, from 73.4 billion euros in January, but an ECB decision (in February 28) to temporarily stop accepting Greek bonds as collateral for refinancing actions turned Greek banks to the emergency liquidity assistance mechanism (ELA), with funding rising to 107.2 billion euros in February, from 54 billion euros in January. This trend changed in March as ECB restored funding activities with Greek banks, with funding from ECB operations rising to 78.9 billion euros, while funding from ELA decreased to 46.3 billion euros.
 Greece will remain in the euro, Development minister saysGreece will remain in the euro, the Eurozone will acknowledge the depth of an economic recession and will discuss possible adjustments of the economic program if it was reassured of our commitment to continuing a reform program, Development Minister Yiannis Stournaras said on Thursday.
Addressing a general assembly of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB), Stournaras said the European Commission has asked for a halt of all payments under a development law following recent cases of corruption until the affair was fully cleared up. The Greek minister noted, however, that something like this could cause great problems, especially in the prevailing recession environment in the country. Stournaras also criticized the European Investment Bank for the slow pace of funding to the country. EIB cannot behave like a classic commercial bank, the Greek minister said.
Stournaras said the ministry will re-examine a list with 250 obstacles to business activity -submitted by SEB - to see which of them still remain, while he announced that the ministry was drafting a list of projects to be included in trans-European networks and will be funded from project bonds -a decision taken during a recent EU Summit. He also said that a lot of work still needed to be done for fast-track procedures in investments to be fully operational.
Stournaras said a decision to abolish the Merchant Shipping ministry was a big mistake and noted that a next government should decide to reinstate such a ministry.
 SEB president on economic developmentsFederation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos, addressing Thursday the Federation's afternoon session of the general assembly, stressed that "with their vote on May 6 the citizens indeed delegalised the second memorandum. Their mandate however is the effort for its changing to an understanding with our partners and not its unconditional denunciation," while also saying that on May 6 the people voted against austerity but not against Europe as well.
"The dilemma of inside or outside Europe has been overcome," he added. "National isolation and the return to the occupation-era drachma is the nightmarish dream of some obsessed- also the unspeakable pursuit as well of isolated interests- that are outside this hall. They find no place, however, in any political speech or programme with a serious appeal."
Daskalopoulos assessed that the redefining of the Greek problem in Europe can be achieved, provided that "we submit to our partners realistic targets of our own on the adjustment of the memorandum and not place blind bets."
 Bank deposits up slightly in AprilBusiness and household bank deposits rose slightly in April to 166 billion euros, from 165.3 billion euros a month earlier, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a report, said that total deposits -including deposits owned by the Greek state and general government agencies - reached 175.3 billion euros in April from 173.2 billion euros in March. It should be noted, however, that Greek banks suffered deposit outflows in May because of the political uncertainty in the country. Greek banks have lost around 25 pct of their total deposits in the last two years.
 Federal Deputy Labour Minister Fuchtel tours northern GreeceGerman federal Deputy Labour Minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel on Thursday continued his visit to northern Greece focusing on the sectors of tourism, water resources and renewable energy sources (RES), regarded as the main pylons of Greek-German cooperation.
Speaking in the prefecture of Pella under his capacity as Chancellor Merkel's representative assigned with the task of promoting Greek-German relations in the sector of local administration, Fuchtel outlined a plan designed for immediate implementation. He referred to a series of theme conferences that are already taking place to examine prospective cooperation sectors, launched with a tourism conference in the seaport city of Kavala.
A conference on the protection and exploitation of water resources will be held in the northwest city of Kastoria on June 21-22. The potential of exporting locally produced organic food will also be examined with the participation of German representatives.
Another conference is scheduled to take place in the city of Ptolemaida on July 9-10, focusing on RES and the potential of biomass and biogas production that will be attended by representatives of major German companies.
The conclusions of various conferences scheduled to take place across the country will be presented in Thessaloniki on Nov. 15-16 in the 3rd German-Greek conference.
Fuchtel stated that the conference phase follows after the twinning of Greek and German municipalities, while the third phase will be characterized by know-how assistance offered by German organizations to Greek regions that have requested it.
It was also announced that Paranesti Municipality representatives will visit Germany soon to exchange know-how with officials managing national forests in the country. The acquired knowledge will be utilized in the management of the virgin Paranesti Forest, a natural monument located in the northernmost tip of central Rhodope, in northeast Greece.
The German government official also referred to the potential of timber production in Skydra and the promotion of winter tourism in Almopia.
In their meetings with Fuchtel, local officials and entrepreneurs in the prefecture of Pella underlined the negative psychology in Greece and the unfavourable environment in the business sector as a result of the European pressures exerted on the country.
The visiting German official underlined that "only through cooperation we can make steps toward progress and recovery". As regards the situation in Greece he said that "solutions should be given by the Greek government," stressing that "in a few days the Greek voters will be called to decide on their country's fate".
 Cancellations in tourist arrivals an everyday phaenomenonCancellations in hotel reservations throughout Greece is an everyday phenomenon, even in this period, said the President of the Greek Hoteliers Federation Yannis Retsos during a meeting on Thursday with the press.
Retsos said that May has been lost for the resorts and now the hope is that the new government will succeed in sending a message of stability abroad in order that "the match will be saved in the last minute". Greece has already lost 2 million tourists and the projection for 2012 is "a roll of the dice".
At the same moment the tourist product of Athens is only counting its wounds and the tourist world is speaking of a collapse in arrivals and revenues.
Twenty five hotels in Athens have shut down while others are suspending their operation and others are becoming seasonal hotels. Referring to the working positions in the sector, in May 2011 jobs dropped to 11,000 marking a 30 percent decline compared with May 2008 (14,000 working positions).
 ELSTAT strictly implementing regulations on statistical data, the conclusion of international conference taking place in AthensEuropean Statistical Governance Authority Board (ESGAB) president Thomas Wieser, addressing Thursday the "European Conference on the Quality of Official Statistics Q2012" taking place in Athens, stressed that "the Greek Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) is now strictly implementing the existing regulations as regards data for the debt and the deficit and this is also recognised abroad. We hail the persistence of the Greek statisticians to insist in doing their work and they are doing it well."
Addressing the conference, Eurostat general director Walter Radermacher expressed his satisfaction over progress achieved over the past year in a series of initiatives undertaken at European level to improve the quality of the European statistics system.
An address was also made at the conference by ELSTAT president Andreas Georgiou who referred to the conditions that have been created in Greece which secure the production of quality statistical data.
 SEB reports shows inequality of tax statusOne million self-employed people are paying only 4.0 pct of taxes paid by individuals, 84 pct of individuals are paying 21 pct of total taxes and almost half of Greek families (49 pct) declared incomes below the tax-free level and did not pay any taxes at all.
These figures were presented by Dionysis Nikolaou, managing director of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) during the federation's general assembly which re-elected Dimitris Daskalopoulos as president of the federation for the fourth consecutive term.
Nikolaou stressed that the 1,500 largest Greek enterprises paid 67 pct of total income tax paid by legal entities, while 200,000 small enterprises (99.3 pct of all Greek enterprises) paid an average tax of 5,000 each "equal to the tax paid by a wage earner with monthly salary of 2,000 euros". He said that reform inactivity towards structural and institutional changes raised hurdles to productive forces, sustained tax evasion and corruption, while he added that a Greek debt haircut decision was the result of a continuing absence of any reform plan and of the full failure in aching fiscal consolidation targets.
 Casino Mont Parnes employees demand signature of new collective agreementThe mobilizations by employees of the Regency Casino Mont Parnes, located on Mt Parnitha near Athens, will continue it was announced on Thursday. They seek the signing of a new collective labour agreement without wage cuts, layoffs or flexible work relations.
In a press conference held in the "Athens Imperial" Hotel, which has suspended its operation, the representatives of trade unions of tourism sector professionals in the prefecture of Attica underlined that the mobilizations will escalate on June 27 with a nationwide strike.
 Business Briefs-- Alpha Bank on Thursday reported losses totaling 107.8 million euros after credit risk provisions worth 320.7 million euros, in the first quarter of 2012. The bank said its capital adequacy rate rose to 9.6 pct while its Core Tier I rate to 7.2 pct following the disbursement of fresh capital (1.9 billion euros) from the Greek Financial Stability Fund.
-- Eurobank on Thursday reported losses totaling 236 million euros in the first quarter of 2012. The bank said that following completion of the first phase of a bank recapitalization program -with the disbursement of 4.0 billion euros from the Greek Financial Stability Fund- Eurobank's capital adequacy rate rose to 9.0 pct and its basic equity capital rate to 7.9 pct at the end of the first quarter of 2012.
-- Hellenic Sugar Industry on Thursday said it returned to profitability in the first quarter of 2012, after reporting losses in the same period last year. Parent turnover totaled 127.7 million euros, down 12.6 pct from 2011, while group turnover fell 11.8 pct to 170.4 million euros over the same period.
 Greek stocks end 2.77 pct higherGreek stocks ended strongly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, helped by buying interest for blue chip stocks such as Coca Cola 3E, OPAP, Motor Oil and Titan. On the other hand, the shares of National Bank and OTE suffered heavy losses after Morgan Stanley deleted the two stocks from its basic market index. The composite index rose 2.77 pct to end at 525.45 points, off the day's highs of 536.32 points. Turnover soared to 168.201 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 1.80 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 2.92 pct. The Food (12.3 pct), Commerce (8.26 pct), Health (7.0 pct) and Travel (6.88 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (9.09 pct), Banks (6.33 pct) and Utilities (3.14 pct) suffered losses.
Coca Cola 3E (12.35 pct), Folli Follie (8.42 pct), OPAP (7.23 pct), Motor Oil (5.50 pct) and Titan (5.02 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (12.93 pct), OTE (9.09 pct) and Eurobank (5.66 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 62 to 56 with another 16 issues unchanged. Lavipharm (16.83 pct), Aeoliki (14.14 pct) and Trastor (11.46 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobank Properties (29.77 pct), Paperpack (20.51 pct) and Nutriart (20 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +4.22%
Personal & Household: +0.11%
Raw Materials: -1.93%
Travel & Leisure: +6.88%
Food & Beverages: +12.30%
Financial Services: -0.66%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, HBC Coca Cola, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.88
Public Power Corp (PPC): 1.32
HBC Coca Cola: 14.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 4.76
National Bank of Greece: 1.01
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.50
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds remained unchanged at 28.41 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 29.61 pct and the German Bund falling to new historic record lows of 1.20 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 0.94 pct, the three-month rate 0.66 pct and the one-month rate 0.38 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.90 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising slightly to 15.083 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,396 contracts worth 5.989 million euros, with 20,860 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 73,435 contracts worth 9.094 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (51,641), followed by Alpha Bank (9,635), Cyprus Bank (1,249), OTE (5,780), OPAP (1,235), Coca Cola 3E (815), Cyprus Popular Bank (963), Hellenic Postbank (540), Mytilineos (155), Piraeus Bank (292) and MIG (172).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.258
Pound sterling 0.811
Danish kroner 7.543
Swedish kroner 9.109
Japanese yen 99.12
Swiss franc 1.219
Norwegian kroner 7.636
Canadian dollar 1.295
Australian dollar 1.292
 UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) press conference on migration, asylumThe Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday outlined its positions and proposals on asylum seekers, the protection of refugees and migration issues in general, in an effort to contribute to the public debate.
In a press conference, the head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Greece George Tsarbopoulos stressed that "the political forces will have to deal with the migration issue as a complex problem to which no simple solution can be found."
As regards the asylum seekers and the protection of refugees, he stressed that fundamental reform of the processing system is necessary, underlining that despite the positive steps made there are still serious problems such as, limited access to the asylum process, delays in decision making, etc.
It was underlined that the effective operation of the new Asylum Agency is a key-point for a successful reform and that police should not be involved in the asylum request procedure.
Having an adequate and well-trained staff is a necessary precondition for the operation of the new agency. According to citizen protection ministry asylum agency director Maria Stavropoulou, the office is currently understaffed with only 15 employees when it needs roughly 290 to operate.
On his part, Tsarbopoulos underlined the problem of thousands of migrants being trapped in Greece without legal documents leading to phenomena of marginalisation, destitution and social tensions that create fertile ground for extreme racist behaviours.
Daniel Esdras, head of the Greek office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), referred to the voluntary repatriation programme of migrants to their countries of origin implemented by IOM, the Greek Police and UNHCR, stressing that it is a humanitarian emergency programme ensuring the safe and dignified return of third country nationals to their home countries.
A total of 3,000 third country nationals will be repatriated by June 30, 2012, while the voluntary returns will reach 7,000 in 2013.
 Event in Beijing details Chinese journalists' experiences in GreeceBEIJING (AMNA)
Forty Chinese journalists who officially visited Greece in the 15 years since an exchange programme between the two countries was established, spoke here this week on their experiences and impressions of the Mediterranean country, during an event commemorating the 40th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
The event was organised by the Greek embassy in Beijing's press & communication office in association with the All China Journalists' Association (ACJA).
ACJA vice-president Zhou Xisheng, who is also the vice-president of Xinhua News Agency and president of Xinhuanet, referred to the excellent bilateral relations of the two countries from the very first moment of diplomatic ties. He also referred to his personal experience in Greece, where he was stationed for a few years, as well as to the essence of the Sino-Greek relations.
Greece's ambassador to China, Theodore Georgakelos, underlined the importance of the two anniversaries (40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations and 15 years since the beginning of the journalists' exchange programme) and referred to the friendly relations of the two countries in all fields.
Moreover, the Greek ambassador cited what he called the moderate and balanced stance of Chinese media towards Greece, as well as to the importance of "responsible reporting". He also thanked Beijing for its support of Athens.
Xinhua's correspondent in Athens between 2006 and 2011, Liang Yeqian, referred to significant recent milestones of Greek-Chinese cooperation, such as the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the evacuation of Chinese nationals from war-torn Libya in 2011, and the commencement of direct flights connecting Beijing to Athens.
Finally, the press & communication counsellor of the Greek embassy, Christos Failadis, emphasised what he called a "Greece that is changing", part of efforts to transform the ongoing and punishing economic crisis into an opportunity, one aimed at creating a new brand name, combining innovation and quality.
 Woman arrested for burglary of two jewelry shopsA 32-year-old Romanian woman is according to police the perpetrator of the burglary of two jewelry shops on the island of Rhodes. The suspect was arrested on Thursday following a warrant issued by the local prosecutor.
Five more individuals are wanted, alleged to be involved in the case.
A police search of the woman's residence revealed a large number of the stolen jewelry.
 Tens of illegal migrants set up camp at Alexandroupolis Railway StationTens of illegal migrants have set up camp during the past 24 hours outside the Railway Station of Alexandroupolis in the northeast waiting to board passenger trains to Athens after receiving temporary residence papers allowing them to leave the reception centres in the area.
Local residents and tourists arriving at the station come face to face with the unfamiliar picture of a clothes' line that stretches along the railway station for hundreds of meters as the illegal migrants hang their clothes to dry after washing them in a nearby fountain.
According to the Evros Border Guards' Union extra personnel and supplies are necessary to deal with the increased number of illegal migrants trying to cross the borders with Turkey and enter into Greece, a phenomenon that reaches its peak during the summer months.
 Drug dealing arrests in northern GreeceA 26-year-old local man was arrested early Thursday in Kallikratia, Halkidiki prefecture charged with drug dealing. A search in his residence revealed 17 kilos of hashish which was confiscated together with a cell phone. Police believe that the suspect is member of a drug dealing ring.
In a separate incident a 41-year-old local was arrested for cultivating 51 cannabis plants in his sheep pen at Karitsa village in Pieria prefecture, northern Greece.
Both suspects will be sent before the local prosecutors.
 Contraband cigarettes found in parked truckA large quantity of contraband cigarettes was located on Thursday by Attica Police at Aharnes, north of Athens. Police found in a parked truck 85 cartons which contained 42,500 packets of cigarettes lacking the special tobacco tax seal.
The truck and the cigarettes were confiscated and an investigation is underway to track down the perpetrators.
 Non viral meningitis cases treated in Alexandroupolis hospitalThe public should not be alarmed by meningitis cases recently treated in the University General Hospital in Alexandroupolis, northeast Greece, according to a statement made by the hospital governor on Thursday.
Physicians stressed that there is no cause for concern because most of the ten patients that were hospitalized have already been released after being treated for non viral meningitis.
The patients were from the regions of Evros and Rhodope proving that they were not linked to a specific source, the hospital governor said.
 Fair on FridayFair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-4 beauforte. Temperatures between 12C and 29C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens with variable 3-4 beauforte winds and temperatures between 14C and 29C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 13C and 27C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEuropean Commission warnings to Greece to implement reforms and the political parties' campaign ahead of the June 17 elections, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "All disability pensions issued from 2010 onwards suspended until medical re-evaluation".
AVGHI: "European Commission demands Memorandum government".
AVRIANI: "They removed the hoods from former prime minister Lucas Papademos and National Bank of Greece CEO Apostolos Tamvakakis".
DIMOKRATIA: "Alexis' (Tsipras, SYRIZA leader) soviets".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "'Hispanic' (play on words with Titanic) in eurozone - Europe accuses Greece but Spain is going bankrupt...".
ESTIA: "The way out of the crisis - Immediate restoration of the climate of confidence".
ETHNOS: "Fifty noted international personalities send SOS message on Greece".
IMERISSIA: "New message from EU: No support without reforms".
KATHIMERINI: "Greece's economy led to isolation".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Turbulence in Europe with scenarios for Spain".
RIZOSPASTIS: "People-oriented development and remaining in the EU are incompatible".
TA NEA: "Light eurobond with German recipe".
TO PONTIKI: "Reversal wager - SYRIZA a breath away from first place".
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