|Thursday, 18 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-08-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 3 August 2012 Issue No: 4138
 Finmin meets Troika; IMF's Thomsen says meeting was 'excellent'Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday met the heads of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund mission in Athens, collectively known as the troika. The meeting lasted more than two and half hours and was afterward described as "excellent" by IMF mission head Poul Thomsen.
Stournaras will have another meeting with the troika representatives on Sunday, while European Commission official Matthias Mors confirmed that troika officials will be staying in Greece for a few more days.
He said talks on Thursday had focused on the special public-sector payrolls, such as those for the police, military, judiciary and others, and measures allowing tax payers to pay their tax bills in up to 10 installments. According to sources, in talks with Thomsen, Mors and Klaus Masuch of the ECB, Stournaras presented equivalent measures to avoid further cuts to these special payrolls. The two issues are also likely to be discussed again on Sunday, when the first round of talks to find a package of cuts amounting to 11.5 billion euro will be completed.
Sources within the government's economic staff also reported an extensive discussion on the execution of the 2012 budget and finding the measures for the 11.5-billion-euro package. They noted that some of the measures proposed by the Greek side had to be made more specific and this would be done in the next few days in collaboration with the appropriate ministries.
They said that great emphasis will be placed on outlining the equivalent measures in order to avert cuts to special payrolls, as well as to cover losses to the budget as a result of the measure allowing tax payers to settle their bill in 10 monthly installments. The measures to be included in the 11.5-billion-euro package are to be finalised in September, however, at the same time as the troika's report on the Greek economy is being drawn up.
 PM convenes gov't economic staff, sources sayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras convened a meeting of the government's economic staff on Thursday, as soon as a meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika had ended, AMNA sources said.
They said the prime minister had a succession of meetings and contacts at his offices on Thursday morning and then made his way to Parliament in order to have further meetings with Parliament President Vangelis Meimarakis, New Democracy Parliamentary group secretary Thanassis Bouras and Parliament vice-president Yiannis Tragakis.
 DIM.AR leader repeats that the country should remain in the eurozoneDemocratic Left (Dem.Ar) president Fotis Kouvelis on Thursday underlined that his party, one of the three parties backing the coalition government, "will not abandon the efforts for a specific government work that will solve existing problems".
Addressing his party's parliamentary group, he said that "administrative reform does not mean layoffs but instead it means transfers of personnel for the purpose of being better utilized."
As regards the 11.5 billion euro package, he stressed that Dem.Ar's policy seeks to ensure that "society will not bleed and the country will remain in the eurozone," adding that the financially weak should not shoulder additional burden.
He clarified that he will not allow more cuts in pensions, wages or benefits, adding that SMEs will be protected to ensure that no jobs will be lost. "The measures should not be imposed horizontally or be unequal and unfair," he underlined.
Kouvelis also said that everything possible should be done to ensure that the operation of the European support mechanism in Greece will be redefined, adding that the country's place is in the eurozone.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras lashes out at Venizelos, KouvelisMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) president Alexis Tsipras on Thursday said that Wednesday night had marked an "inglorious conclusion for the vulgar 'pro-people' theatrical performance" put on by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis.
In comments after meeting with board members of the civil servants' union federation ADEDY, Tsipras stressed that "any illusions and deceptions that the memorandum will be renegotiated and that they will meet their election campaign pledges have also ended." He pointed out that "the measures they cosign will be the gravestone of the Greek economy," underlining that they "are leading the country out of the eurozone."
The leader of the main opposition party stated that he will do everything possible in and out of parliament with the support of social partners, trade unions and social organizations, to prevent the disaster from happening and accused the "triumvirate of the drachma of being solely responsible for the country's collapse."
Tsipras stressed that "countries do not die, even when they go bankrupt", adding that "the disaster can be prevented".
Referring to the discussion he had with the ADEDY representatives, Tsipras stated that it focused on the need for a national plan that will ensure the reorganization and restructuring of public administration making it more productive and effective for the benefit of society and the people. He underlined that this can be achieved through the introduction of a new mentality and modus operandi and not through layoffs and across-the-board wage cuts.
 Gov't strikes back at SYRIZA's Tsipras, says his aim is to bankrupt GreeceStriking back at Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras and his earlier statements, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accused SYRIZA's leader of seeking Greece's bankruptcy.
"Mr. Tsipras has clearly revealed his goal, which is the bankruptcy of Greece. In order to achieve this he is trying to recruit the 'fifth column' of the drachma, the unions he controls," Kedikoglou said.
"Fortunately for the country, Greek citizens and the government will now allow him to carry out his threats," he added.
 Venizelos-Chryssohoidis clash over PASOK stance on measuresPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and party parliamentary spokesman and former minister Michalis Chryssohoidis had a major disagreement on Wednesday evening over the stance that the party should take on the planned imposition of a package of measures to curb state spending by 11.5 billion euros in the next two years, party sources said.
They said the argument took place during a briefing of the parliamentary group by Venizelos after a meeting earlier of the leaders of the three coalition government parties -- Venizelos, prime minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and Democratic Left (DIMAR leader) Fotis Kouvelis.
The same sources said that Chryssohoidis sharply criticized the PASOK leader and urged him to agree with the measures and stop playing PR games. Venizelos, in turn, countered with accusations that the former minister was undermining the party and asked him to leave, which Chryssohoidis did, slamming the door behind him.
The sources added that Venizelos did not seem to intend to take disciplinary action against Chryssohoidis, but they opined it was highly unlikely the latter would retain his post as parliamentary spokesman.
 Papariga: Disengagement from EU and unilateral write-off of debt the only solutionDisengagement from the EU and Greece's unilateral write-off of its debt is the only solution, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga reiterated on Thursday.
Referring to Wednesday's meeting of the leaders of the three coalition government parties, she said that ", behind the theatrics' of the leaders of the three-party coalition government "there is no recipe, either soft or tough, that can give a pro-people exit to the crisis", adding that "disengagement from the EU and a unilateral write-off of the debt is the only alternative solution", and "the political conditions for this must be formulated".
She said that the draft law for abolition of the memorandums and the loan agreements recently tabled by the KKE in parliament was the "springboard" for the people to deal with the "various blackmails" and "total bankruptcy".
 Prosecutor launches investigation into Roumeliotis' statementsFinancial crimes prosecutor Grigoris Peponis on Thursday summoned Greece's former representative to the IMF Panagiotis Roumeliotis to provide explanations regarding his recent statements about the IMF economic programme for Greece, in which he said that the IMF had known that the programme implemented in the country would fail.
The prosecutor will hold an investigation into possible "breach of faith against the state" and "economy related crimes".
Speaking to the New York Times, Roumeliotis had said "we knew at the fund from the very beginning that this program was impossible to be implemented because we didn't have any successful example".
The statement caused the reaction of former prime minister George Papandreou and his close associates, who accused Roumeliotis of not informing anybody about the scepticism expressed.
 Development Minister presents policy prioritiesThe privatization of TrainOSE and ROSCO (a subsidiary of Hellenic Railways responsible for rolling stock maintenance), accelerating absorption of community funds, liberalizing regional bus services by 2015, restarting large road networks and lifting regulatory hurdles for the smooth operation of the market and price declines, are included in the top 10 priority actions presented by Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the ministry will present the initiatives to be taken towards boosting economic growth and implementing structural reforms beyond discussions made with the troika.
"The situation is not easy and we know it. Problems are great and time is short. Any failure by the government, will be a failure of the country," Hatzidakis said.
The top 10 priorities of the ministry are:
1. Large road projects - restarting four projects. The aim is to complete negotiations with construction companies by September 30.
2. Accelerating absorption of community funds by simplifying/abolishing procedures, changing legislation and revising 181 high-priority projects.
3. Privatizing TrainOSE and ROSCO.
4. Attracting investments through a central licensing system, electronic surveillance to boost transparency, changing an investment law and exploiting Special Purpose Vehicle Enterprises, starting from exploiting the beach front extending from Faliro to Sounio.
5. Exports. Expanding the number of products and exporting companies, opening up new emerging markets and networks.
6. Simplifying licensing for enterprises and professions.
7. Smooth operation of the market.
8. Public procurements. New regulatory framework.
9. Exploiting 37 regional airports.
10. Liberalizing regional bus services by 2015.
 Labour ministry to extend settlement period for social insurance debtsLabour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis has ordered the preparation of legislation to extend the period in which businesses can pay outstanding debts to state social insurance funds until the end of 2014, the labour ministry said on Thursday.
The measure hopes to increase the flow of funds into social insurance funds and is also considered necessary to support businesses and employment as part of a more general effort to restructure the national economy in a very difficult economic environment, in which businesses face major liquidity problems.
Under the new measures, businesses with outstanding debts that have not yet agreed a debt settlement or have lost their right to continue with a previous settlement can apply to be included in a new settlement by the end of 2012, in which case action to recover the funds owed will be suspended until the end of 2014 - provided, however, that they pay current social insurance dues without fail.
The ministry noted that, while such debt settlements created imbalances and distortions and could not be a permanent cure for the problems, they were necessary given the current economic climate.
Based on an analysis of data concerning previous legislation for the payment of overdue social insurance contributions by installments, this led to an increase in revenues from overdue social insurance contributions in the first half of 2012, with collection for the main social insurance fund IKA-ETAM increasing by 10.82 percent relative to the same period in 2011 and 24 percent relative to the same period in 2010.
 Tsipras meets SEKAP workersMain opposition SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras expressed on Thursday his support to the workers of the SEKAP tobacco firm which, as he said, "is in danger of extermination due the acquisition of ATEbank by Piraeus bank." The SEKAP firm is an ATEbank subsidiary.
In a meeting with representatives of the SEKAP workers' union, Tsipras said that the firm must not close and the workers' rights should be respected.
 Greek economic sentiment index recovered in JulyGreece' s economic sentiment index recovered in July, while consumer confidence rose in the month, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.
IOBE, in a monthly report, said that the economic sentiment index rose to 76.1 points in July, reflecting improved business expectations, mainly in the retail sector and constructions, supported also by a rise in consumer confidence for the fifth consecutive month.
More analytically, business expectations in the manufacturing sector fell sharply in July over production developments, although forecasts over current order levels and demand recovered slightly.
In the services sector, business expectations remained pessimistic over current activity, while in the retail sector, business expectations improved over current sales and sales outlook. Inventories fell slightly.
In the construction sector, business expectations improved slightly, along with forecasts over employment in the sector.
Consumer confidence improved in July, reflecting a significant recovery of forecasts over households' finances and the country's economic situation. This improvement -for the fifth consecutive month the highest level in the last two years- reflecting consumer expectations over changes in economic policies after the June general elections.
The economic sentiment index fell in July in the European Union and the Eurozone, remaining significantly far from its long-term average level.
 Business Briefs-- Frigoglass on Thursday reported lower net profits and higher sales in the first half of 2012.
-- The Piraeus-Heraclion sea line is not for sale, Antonis Maniadakis, chief executive of Minoan Lines said on Thursday, dismissing press reports.
-- The Piraeus-Heraclion sea line is not for sale, Antonis Maniadakis, chief executive of Minoan Lines said on Thursday, dismissing press reports. In a statement, Maniadakis said that the sea line was important for the Greek coastal shipping industry and for Minoan Lines -which is based in Heraclion.
 Greek stocks end 1.08 pct lowerGreek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, following a negative trend in other European markets on disappointment over ECB governor's comments over the central bank's interventions to stop widening bond yield spreads in the Eurozone. The composite index of the market fell 1.08 pct to end at 592.74 points, although it rose as much as 1.05 pct early in the session. Turnover was a low 20.238 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.82 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.15 pct lower. The Oil (1.67 pct) and Raw Materials (1.42 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (4.19 pct) and Travel (3.28 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Hellenic Petroleum (2.24 pct), Mytilineos (1.45 pct) and PPC (0.96 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (5.56 pct), Piraeus Bank (4.44 pct) and Cyprus Bank (4.27 pct) were top losers. Broaldy, advancers led decliners by 58 to 55 with another 22 issues unchanged. MIG Real Estate (29.34 pct), Selman (20 pct) and Pegasus (19.75 pct) were top gainers, while NEL (20 pct), Sciens Holdings (19.6 pct) and Neorio (19.53 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.67%
Personal & Household: -0.54%
Raw Materials: +1.42%
Travel & Leisure: -3.28%
Food & Beverages: -0.78%
Financial Services: -1.01%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, HBC Coca Cola and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.19
Public Power Corp (PPC): 2.11
HBC Coca Cola: 13.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.48
National Bank of Greece: 1.22
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.65
Bank of Piraeus: 0.22
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 24.91 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 24 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 26.18 pct and the German Bund 1.27 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates ended slightly lower. The 12-month rate fell 0.92 pct, the six-month rate eased 0.65 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.37 pct and the one-month rate was 0.14 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 5.345 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,883 contracts worth 1.984 million euros, with 23,439 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 27,946 contracts worth 3.356 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (10,797), followed by National Bank (8,866), Cyprus Bank (4,554), OTE (840), PPC (1,155), OPAP (570), Piraeus Bank (160), Eurobank (161), Hellenic Postbank (544) and Intralot (55).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.253
Pound sterling 0.802
Danish kroner 7.553
Swedish kroner 8.459
Japanese yen 98.09
Swiss franc 1.220
Norwegian kroner 7.515
Canadian dollar 1.255
Australian dollar 1.189
 Preservation work continues on 16th century shipwreck off ZakynthosArchaeologists continue the efforts to preserve a 16th century, 20-meter-long, vessel shipwrecked near the port of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea that most likely participated in the 1571 Naval Battle of Nafpaktos, one of the most important sea battles in world history.
The shipwreck, the only one discovered in Greece that dates back to the era of Philip II of Spain, was found in the 1980s by local speargun fishermen and in the 1990s it was studied by Greek archeologists in cooperation with Oxford University scientists.
The part of its hull that was pulled out of the sea has been covered by geotextile to protect it from being eaten away by worms within the framework of an innovative method created by the Athens' technological educational institutes (TEI). If effective, the method will be used in the preservation of more recovered shipwrecks.
 PM Samaras congratulates pupils for their performance in 53rd Math OlympiadPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday received the pupils who excelled in the 53rd International Mathematical Olympiad hosted by Argentina on July 4-16, and congratulated them on their scores that won them a gold, a silver and three bronze medals as well as an honorable mention.
Congratulating them, Samaras stressed that "you have made us proud and the message you have sent in Greece and abroad is that the Greeks can always excel," adding that "with your achievement you breathe strength into the Greek people."
 Lightning kills 400 sheepFour-hundred (400) sheep were killed by lightning in the village of Distrato, Konitsa prefecture on Wednesday,
The lightning struck as a shepherd was gathering up his flock to put them in their pen in heavy rainfall during a flash thunderstorm.
The shepherd was uninjured.
 Amendments for legislation on publishing photos of HIV positive individualsJustice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Antonis Roupakiotis on Thursday revealed that the ministry intends to modify legislation allowing public prosecutors to publish the photographs of prostitutes that test HIV positive. Roupakiotis was speaking in Parliament, replying to a question tabled by Democratic Left MP Maria Giannakaki on whether legal procedures had been followed in the arrests and treatment of HIV positive women arrested some months ago.
The minister said the planned amendments would require the public prosecutor to fully justify and specify the aim served by the decision to publish photographs, it would specify the method and period for which photographs might be published and also allow the individuals involved to have legal recourse against the decision within a very short space of time, including a reply from an appeals public prosecutor within a short deadline.
 Elusive bandit arrested after committing 75 armed robberies in the past decadeA legendary bandit wanted for no less than 75 armed robberies spanning over a decade of criminal action was arrested during a police chase after robbing a supermarket in the Kaminia district in Piraeus, it was announced on Thursday.
The 42-year-old, who was arrested on Wednesday by DIAS motorcycle police, confessed that he has robbed at gunpoint a total of 41 banks, 24 supermarkets and 10 state agencies, while his total loot in these robberies was 528,795 euros, 969,000 drachmas, 1,825 USD, 673 CYP and 40 GBP. In all instances he acted without an accomplice. In his early robberies he was armed with a shotgun but in the last six years he used a revolver and covered his face with hoods or motorcycle helmets.
He had no criminal record and, because he acted alone, it was difficult to be identify him and he therefore managed to elude police - in spite of the fact that he was repeatedly caught on security cameras.
During questioning he told police that he had started up a transport company in Bulgaria and admitted that he laundered part of the stolen money by using it to purchase a truck which he intended to register in the neighboring country.
He carried out his first robbery in 2001, when he targeted a branch of the Agricultural Bank in Athens' Agii Anargyri district and made off with 969,000 drachmas.
 Man arrested with 240 kilos hashish in his carPolice in Aitoloakarnania, western Greece on Thursday reported the arrest of a 49-year-old man caught transporting 230 kilos of hashish in the boot of his car. The man had bought the drugs in the Ioannina region and was taking them to Athens.
Acting on a tip-off, police spotted the car on the 103rd kilometre of the Antirrio-Ioannina national road near the village of Stanos, Amfilochia. The drugs, packed into parcels, were found during a stop and search.
An investigation is underway to uncover other individuals that may be involved in the case, since the man is believed to be part of a ring trading in large quantities of drugs in major Greek cities.
 Man arrested for hacking girl's social media account, posting child pornA 23-year-old Paleo Faliro resident has been arrested by police for hacking into computers and extracting personal data, as well as posting child porn and sexually harassing minors via the Internet. The arrest was made on Wednesday following a complaint made by a 43-year-old mother, who found that her daughter's profile on facebook had been hacked.
The 23-year-old is accused of gaining access to the underage girl's facebook account and impersonating her in order to talk with and sexually harass her friends, also minors. The 23-year-old asked several of the girl's friends to contact him via e-mail accounts where he had posted lewd photographs, which he also sent to the underage girls to comment on.
He is further accused of asking the underage girls to send him nude photographs of themselves and to give him their password for their facebook accounts.
Police managed to track him down and find his address, conducting a search of his home and finding a large number of files containing child porn on his computer. Authorities confiscated 12 CDs, a laptop and three hard disks that will be sent to police crime labs for further investigation while the suspect was led before an Athens first-instance court prosecutor on Thursday.
 Fire in Halkidiki placed under controlA major wildfire that broke out on Thursday in the Aghios Panteleimonas region in Sykia Halkidiki, northern Greece, was under control later in the afternoon.
More than 10 fire engines participated in the firefighting efforts assisted by aerial means as the fire raged in an inaccessible area.
 Greek high jumper again tests positive for banned substanceA second sample provided by Greek high jumper Dimitris Chondrokoukis has once again tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol, the Greek athletics federation SEGAS announced on Thursday.
SEGAS said that the Greek high jump champion would now face disciplinary sanctions foreseen under international rules for sport and is barred from competing in the London 2012 Olympics.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe coalition government leaders' meeting on Wednesday and the internal friction in junior coalition partner PASOK were the main front-page headlines in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "End to bogus pensions".
AVGHI: "End of performance - Venizelos (PASOK leader) disagrees with the measures, but does not want to bring down government - Democratic Left (DIMAR) seeking ways not to burden the financially weaker strata".
AVRIANI: "The political leaders' agreement on 11.5 billion euros measures at gunpoint".
DIMOKRATIA: "11.5+2 billion euros harsh measures - Pain for salaries and pensions".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The measures running in order to achieve extension".
ESTIA: "Taxpayers taken by surprise - More taxes for lower revenues in 2011 tax returns".
ETHNOS: "Leaders' agreement after the tempest".
IMERISSIA: "Agreement with hurdles".
KATHIMERINI: "Samaras' policy line prevailed".
LOGOS: "They disagree by agreeing".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Outline of agreement for 11.5 billion euro package of measures".
NIKI: "What our money will be worth with the eurodrachma".
RIZOSPASTIS: "KKE draft law for abolition of memorandums and loan agreement".
TA NEA: "After the leaders' hour comes the hour of the bill".
TO PONTIKI: "Recital of hypocrisy".
VRADYNI: "Loans to banks - The procedure for their partial or total write-off".
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