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

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

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

Friday, 30 November 2012 Issue No: 4235

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't unveils plan to repay 9.3 bln euros in state debts to private sector
  • [02] Once the 2011 debts are repaid, the state will begin repaying debts generated in 2012.
  • [03] Pension funds, hospitals, biggest debtors to private sector
  • [04] PM briefs president; 'Time now for hard work'
  • [05] SYRIZA on PM's statements after meeting with Papoulias
  • [06] SYRIZA proposal on first Memorandum fact-finding committee rejected in Parliament vote
  • [07] Parliament holds heated debate on SYRIZA motion for fact-finding commission on conditions that led to Memorandum
  • [08] PASOK leader sees 'new start' for Greece in Parliament speech
  • [09] Ind. Grks leader attacks coalition gov't
  • [10] KKE leader supports proposed Parliament probe into Memorandum
  • [11] SYRIZA-EKM nationwide conference to begin on Friday
  • [12] Acquittal of ethnic Albanian commander 'no surprise', KKE says
  • [13] Labour minister holds talks with German ambassador
  • [14] Archbishop, defence minister hold meeting on boosting Church-armed forces cooperation
  • [15] PM Samaras to attend memorial service of late Cyprus president Papadopoulos
  • [16] Research, technology discussed in meeting between relevant SG, Ukrainian envoy
  • [17] Greek mission in Afghanistan completed
  • [18] 'Greece has entered a new era,' Hatzidakis tells Capital Link event
  • [19] PM delivers message to investor forum in NYC
  • [20] Greece tops Eurozone's adjustment progress indicator
  • [21] Joint Greece-China inter-ministerial meeting in Beijing; embassy hosts investment seminar
  • [22] Greece-China tradeshow inaugurated by Dep. FM in Beijing
  • [23] Meeting between FinMin and Greek Banks Union directorate concluded without agreement
  • [24] Eurogroup decisions on loan mark end to speculation: Alpha Bank report
  • [25] IMF welcomes Greek bond buy back announcement
  • [26] Ministry to lease non-agricultural land for major investments
  • [27] Budget revenues from income tax up 4.4pct in Jan-Oct
  • [28] Olive oil production posts substantial increase
  • [29] Folli Follie registers rise in sales, revenues for Jan.-Sep. 2012
  • [30] Business Briefs
  • [31] Stocks end down on Thur.
  • [32] Greek bond market closing report
  • [33] ADEX closing report
  • [34] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [35] Research in 'Antikythera Wreck' area
  • [36] Virtual art guiding tour at New Acropolis Museum
  • [37] Noted linguist details similarities between Doric Greek, ancient Macedonian in Melbourne lecture
  • [38] Vovos released on bail after testimony for overdue state debts
  • [39] Cancer patient at hospital placed under arrest for illegal migration
  • [40] Authorities intercept illegal consignment of copper
  • [41] Olympic Games Museum exhibits to return on Sunday
  • [42] Rainy on Friday Politics

  • [01] Gov't unveils plan to repay 9.3 bln euros in state debts to private sector

    Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Thursday assured that a substantial proportion of the state's 9.3-billion-euros figure in outstanding debts to the private sector will be paid by the end of the year, while unveiling the repayment timetable during a press conference.

    The state owes 9.3 billion euros to the private sector, of which seven billion euros of the debt was generated in 2011, while the remaining 2.3 billion euros concerns debts of state organisations generated in 2012.

    Staikouras said repayment of outstanding state debts to the private sector would be gradual, targeting at complete repayment by end-2013.

    He said priority would be placed on the repayment of the debts generated up to end-2011, with the focus on payment of the retirement superannuities of 40,229 retired civil servants totaling 1.384 billion euro, debts to pharmaceutical companies that near 2.0 billion euro, and tax rebates totaling 738 billion euro.

    [02] Once the 2011 debts are repaid, the state will begin repaying debts generated in 2012.

    "The government the importance for the economy of the repayment of the outstanding state debts, which must be done speedily, simply and with transparency," Staikouras said.

    He assured that with the disbursement of December's installment of the outstanding tranche of the EC-ECB-IMF bailout loan to Greece, the Greek government will be in a position to repay a substantial proportion of these debts.

    [03] Pension funds, hospitals, biggest debtors to private sector

    Pension funds and state hospitals have the largest overdue debt to the private sector, owning 4.492 billion euros and 1.790 billion euros, respectively, a report by the State's General Accounting Office stated on Thursday.

    The report said government ministries (934 million), local government authorities (971 million), other state legal entities (385 million) and VAT returns (738 million) added to a total overdue debt of 9.310 billion euros to the private sector.

    The Defense ministry had the biggest overdue debt among government ministries (378 million euros), followed by the Transport ministry (150 million) and the Development ministry (124 million).

    The National Tourism Organization had the biggest overdue debt among the state's other legal entities (44.8 million euros), followed by the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) (52 million), Themis Constructions (39.7 million), Hellenic Railways (32.8 million) and the National Opera (8.0 million euros).

    [04] PM briefs president; 'Time now for hard work'

    "This is not a time for gloating and complacency. It is the time for hard work to vindicate the sacrifices of the Greek people," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday after being received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, whom he briefed on the decisions regarding Greece, taken at the Eurogroup meeting on Monday.

    "I briefed the president on the Eurogroup decisions. This is not a time for gloating and relaxation. It is the time for hard work to re-start the engine of the economy, so that there will be growth. It is the time for hard work, to vindicate the very great sacrifices of the Greek people," Samaras said.

    [05] SYRIZA on PM's statements after meeting with Papoulias

    Main opposition SYRIZA on Thursday accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of following a "strategy of defeat and submission", commenting on the premier's statements after his meeting with President Karolos Papoulias, during which he briefed the latter on the Eurogroup decisions affecting Greece.

    "It is not necessary for Mr. Samaras to continue 'the hard work' that has brought us to this point. His devotion to the Memorandum and his submission to our creditors and the country's absence from debates regarding European developments, comprise the triptych of his strategic defeat and submission", SYRIZA said in an announcement, underlining that "to this policy, the only appropriate unity is that of the people and youth, for the reversal of the memorandums and the forging of a new strategy that will focus on the needs of the society".

    [06] SYRIZA proposal on first Memorandum fact-finding committee rejected in Parliament vote

    A proposal submitted by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party for the creation of a fact-finding committee to probe the country's inclusion in the first EC-ECB-IMF Memorandum was rejected in Parliament on Thursday, with 167 votes against and 119 in favour.

    Fourteen deputies were absent from the vote.

    [07] Parliament holds heated debate on SYRIZA motion for fact-finding commission on conditions that led to Memorandum

    The parliament plenary on Thursday opened a heated debate on motion tabled by main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and 70 other party MPs for the establishment of a parliamentary fact-finding commission to probe the circumstances that led Greece to take recourse in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the signing of the subsequent Memorandums and investigate possible criminal accountability of government members, past and present, in the affair.

    The debate is expected to wind up at approximately 5:00 on Thursday afternoon, at which time a roll-call vote will be held on the motion.

    MPs of New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR), which comprise the three-party coalition government, said their parties reject the motion, accusing SYRIZA of petty-party expediencies at a time that the country needs unity to overcome the crisis, while ND deputy Danis Tzamtzis said that ND will table its own motion for a fact-finding commission so that light will be shed on the issue without empathy and vindictiveness.

    Opposition MPs said their parties will vote in favor of the SYRIZA motion.

    Addressing the 300-member unicameral parliament, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras described the management of the crisis by the three-party coalition government as a "perpetual and ongoing crime against the Greek people", adding that SYRIZA has tabled the motion because it believes it is its duty to do what the majority of the Greek people desire, namely to seek out how a debt crisis turned into a national tragedy.

    He said it is the duty of parliament and all the political forces that "all the wrong policy choices that turned Greece into a guinea pig of the crisis will be revealed".

    "You tell us that our motion is vengeful and vindictive. It is, however, a motion that has to do with the present and the future, because what is happening today is a perpetual and continuing crime, and that is why you reject our motion. This stance reveals and proves that the Memorandum was not a solution of necessity but a choice," Tsipras said.

    He accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the ND and DIMAR deputies of stating on the one hand that they do not agree with the rationale of the Memorandum but on the other that they are forced to adopt this rationale, and blasted them for refusing to probe accountability in order to avoid judgment on their choices and responsibilities.

    Referring to the closely watched issue of the country's debt, questions over its sustainability and the prospects of a "buy-back", Tsipras said:

    "Dec. 13 is not far away. What will we achieve then? Has the debt become sustainable? Do you want to persuade us that goal of sustainability comes after 12 years of disaster, so that the debt stands at the point when we entered the (bailout) mechanism? But even if sustainability is achieved, an increase in GDP by 50 billion euros is needed. However, do to the recession we have had a constant reduction (in GDP), and you refer to an increase in GDP? But even if we overlook this, the write-off of the debt is unavoidable; you are simply giving Ms. Merkel time and becoming her cheerleaders," he said.

    [08] PASOK leader sees 'new start' for Greece in Parliament speech

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, president of a junior member of Greece's three-party governing coalition, on Thursday hailed the Eurogroup's decisions for Greece as a "new start" for the country. He was speaking in Parliament during a debate on main opposition SYRIZA's proposal for a Parliamentary examination committee to look into the events that led to Greece signing the first memorandum for bailout loans.

    He also attacked SYRIZA and said that the main opposition was saddened by the country's successes and "investing in impasse, destruction and the death of the country".

    "We will succeed and you will be isolated," he added, and underlined the government's commitment to creating the conditions for a national recovery - starting with the primary condition of stability in politics and the state.

    "We, in PASOK, are guarantors of both the political and social stability of the country and we are proud because we are standing and will rise together with the country," he added.

    Criticising SYRIZA's proposal for an investigation into how Greece came to sign the memorandum, he accused the party of lapsing from "political to prosecutorial speech" and seeking responsibilities in the past.

    [09] Ind. Grks leader attacks coalition gov't

    Opposition Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos on Thursday attacked the coalition government during a debate on a proposed Parliamentary investigation into events leading to the signing of the Memorandum for bailout loans. Speaking in Parliament, Kammenos was particularly scathing about the stance adopted by New Democracy, which he accused of covering up for the PASOK government of George Papandreou and Evangelos Venizelos.

    Kammenos also claimed that while he was investigating the issue of the CDS and the possible links with Papandreou's brother, some people had asked him to keep quiet in order for them to drop a civil suit filed against him for 15 million euro.

    "In the name of a good political climate you are asking us to cover them up? Why? Did we spend it together?" Kammenos asked.

    The Ind. Greeks leader said he disagreed with main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras when he said that the parties of the ruling coalition would enter a "footnote" in history.

    "We want to send you to the dock for the accused and we want to get back the money that speculators stole with you support," he added.

    [10] KKE leader supports proposed Parliament probe into Memorandum

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday indicated that her party will support a proposal for a Parliamentary examination committee to look into the events that led to Greece signing the first bailout memorandum, while speaking in Parliament.

    She stressed, however, that her reasons were not the same as those of main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) that tabled the proposal.

    "There are certain clues and evidence that suit the role of the examination committee, such as the 'haircut' imposed on pension fund reserves. I have to say, however, that SYRIZA is literally making a mockery of the role and mission of the Examination Committee with the overall issues it raises. The overthrow of the capitalist system is made a mockery when it is made the object of an examination committee," she said.

    Papariga also noted that Parliament could just as easily arrange a seminar, rather than an examination committee, on how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was brought in since it was not a "penal" issue.

    [11] SYRIZA-EKM nationwide conference to begin on Friday

    The main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA-EKM) party will take the first step to becoming a uniform party rather than a loose coalition of separate component factions with the start of its nationwide conference on Friday, which will take place over the weekend at Faliro's 'Peace and Friendship' indoor stadium with 3,400 delegates taking part.

    The weekend conference will make decisions on the form of the new party and its organisation, while the next step will be concluded with the holding of a founding conference in the coming spring.

    The conference will be launched on Friday with a speech by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, while Aristidis Baltas will present a draft proclamation of the new party and Sofia Sakorafa a new organisational plan. On Saturday, the delegates elected in about 550 assemblies throughout the country will present their positions, while on Sunday afternoon there will be elections, including that of the Central Political Committee to lead SYRIZA until the spring founding conference.

    According to SYRIZA, after the registration process was completed, the party's members increased to 35,000 and had virtually tripled relative to the past.

    [12] Acquittal of ethnic Albanian commander 'no surprise', KKE says

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday issued a strong criticism over the acquittal of former commander of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Ramush Haradinaj by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, or ICTY.

    The ethnic Albanian was undergoing a retrial on charges of war crimes committed against Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo.

    "It comes as no surprise that ICTY has acquitted Haradinaj on the grounds of insufficient evidence for the murder-provocations and the illegal arms and drugs trades," the party said.

    "It would have been a surprise if the US and EU-appointed court could have seen the blatant crimes and ruled accordingly. These are the bodies that supporters of capitalism present as being independent and just," KKE added.

    [13] Labour minister holds talks with German ambassador

    Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis held a meeting on Thursday with German ambassador to Greece Wolfgang Dolt, focusing on changes and reforms that are being promoted in the Greek labour market and of undeclared labour.

    Dolt was briefed during the meeting, also attended by deputy minister Nikos Panayiotopoulos, on the recent reforms and the Labour ministry's legislative work.

    Also examined were ways of upgrading the labour inspectors corps and the combatting of undeclared labour, combined with the handling of illegal immigration. The minister and the German ambassador also agreed to the creation of a steadfast cooperation framework between the Labour ministries of Greece and Germany.

    [14] Archbishop, defence minister hold meeting on boosting Church-armed forces cooperation

    Archibishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece on Thursday had a meeting with Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos to discuss ways to further improve cooperation between the Greek Church's non-governmental organisation 'Apostoli' and the armed forces for the support of vulnerable social groups.

    [15] PM Samaras to attend memorial service of late Cyprus president Papadopoulos

    NICOSIA (AMNA/A. Viketos)

    Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has accepted an invitation from the family of late Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos and will be making a memorial address at his fourth annual memorial service.

    According to an announcement by the Tassos Papadopoulos Studies Centre, the memorial service will be held on Sunday December 9, at 9 a.m., at the Aghios Nikolaos Church in Kato Deftera, near Nicosia.

    [16] Research, technology discussed in meeting between relevant SG, Ukrainian envoy

    The Secretary General for Research and Technology (SGRT), Vassilis Maglaris, held talks on Wednesday with Ukrainian ambassador to Greece Volodymyr Shkurov.

    During the meeting, which was held at the general secretariat for research and technology, issues of mutual interest as well as preparation of a new programme and intensification of cooperation between research foundation of both countries were discussed.

    [17] Greek mission in Afghanistan completed

    The Greek mission in Afghanistan has been completed, with the return of the Afghanistan Special Composition Brigade to Greece from Kabul, which is part of the Defence ministry's expenditures cutbacks framework, as it was announced on Thursday evening by the National Defence General Staff.

    All the material and equipment that was in Afghanistan returned together with the repatriated members, while the saving of money from the departure amounts to 6,800,000 euros compared to 2011 and 7,700,000 euros compared to 2010.

    Seven trainer pilots remain in Afghanistan to train Afghan pilots in C-27J aircraft, who will be departing on completion of their mission.

    A total of 3,295 members participated in the Greek Afghanistan force, with a stay duration of between 3-6 months.

    Financial News

    [18] 'Greece has entered a new era,' Hatzidakis tells Capital Link event

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greece has entered a new, hopeful era, Greek Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks minister Costis Hatzidakis told a reception Wednesday night in New York at the Harvard Club in New York.

    The reception was held in the context of the 14th annual Capital Link Investor Forum titled "Building a new Greece", which opens Thursday at the Metropolitan Club with Hatzidakis as the keynote speaker, and messages by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and European Commission Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach via webcast.

    Hatzidakis acknowledged the "significant contribution" of the overseas Greeks and the support that has been forthcoming from them to the country of their origin, stressing that "Greece is not a lost cause, and this was proved by the Greek people with their immense sacrifices".

    "Now, the hour of hope and growth has come," he added.

    Hatzidakis put special weight on the structural changes and the legislative framework for investments, underlining the "fast track" process that facilitates interested investors in the speedy acquisition of the required licenses.

    The minister further noted the re-start of the major infrastructure projects, the promotion of investment collaborations and the growth opportunities in Greece, and stressed that "Greece's stay in the eurozone is non-negotiable".

    During the banquet the "Capital Link Leadership Award" for 2012 was presented to Greek-Australian Andreas Liveris, chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, for his leading role as a founding member of the Hellenic Initiative, which he created together with four other distinguished businessmen for the purpose of supporting Greece and improving the country's image internationally.

    Liveris explained that the Hellenic Initiative is a global, non-profit, non-governmental organisation the vision of which is, through the generosity of the Greek Diaspora and phil-Hellene community, to provide substantive encouragement and financial reinforcement for the preservation of Greek organisations and programmes and to inspire a business development that will enable the Greek people to secure the long-term prosperity of the country.

    Liveris called on all the Greeks abroad and phil-Hellenes to use all their abilities and capabilities to help the Greek people, particularly the vulnerable social groups.

    Likening the present situation in Greece with the Great Depression in the US in the past, Liveris stressed the need of simultaneously achieving relief, recovery and reform, so as to reverse the climate in Greece.

    Parallel to the main Forum session, there will be one-on-one meetings between Greek government officials, companies. management and investors.

    While in New York, Hatzidakis will have several meetings with businessment, investors and officials of the Greek American community, and will be received by Archbishop Demetrios of America.

    Hatzidakis will also pay a visit to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Friday, in the context of "Greek Day on the NYSE".

    [19] PM delivers message to investor forum in NYC

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P.Panagiotou)

    The Greek people have been subjected to "painful sacrifices" over "tough but necessary measures," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in a videotaped message to the 14th Annual Investor Forum-Greece, organised by Capital Link on "Building a New Greece" in New York City on Thursday.

    Samaras said it was necessary to build a business environment that would attract investment and development. "Greece is not alone in this effort," he added, "and we can count on other European Union members and on allies and friends like the economic and business community of the US."

    Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, who attended the conference, spoke on Greece's new perspectives and laid emphasis on structural changes and the legislative framework for investments, especially for a speedier process of granting operation licences.

    [20] Greece tops Eurozone's adjustment progress indicator

    Greece tops the list detailing the performance of the 17 eurozone members, according to a report by the Lisbon Council think tank, made public on Thursday. However, the overall picture of the Greek economy is not good, as a result of widespread speculation over the last two years vis-?-vis the country's presence in the eurozone.

    Specifically, Greece posted the largest adjustment progress indicator (8.2) and presented the greatest change within a period of one year (1.6), followed by Ireland, Estonia, Spain and Portugal.

    Greece recorded the lowest fundamental health indicator in the eurozone (3.6, with a 0.6 improvement), while the top positions were occupied by Estonia, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands.

    The 2012 Euro Plus Monitor, the authoritative competitiveness ranking, jointly published each year by Berenberg Bank and the Lisbon Council, ranks the 17 eurozone countries on a range of key macro-economic indicators. It provides a comprehensive view of progress - and retreat - throughout the European currency zone. Specifically, this innovative ranking is based on two key indicators: 1) the Fundamental Health Indicator, which looks at individual countries' overall economic health, and 2) the Adjustment Progress Indicator, which measures the speed with which countries are adjusting to the challenges posed by the financial and economic crisis.

    [21] Joint Greece-China inter-ministerial meeting in Beijing; embassy hosts investment seminar

    BEIJING (AMNA)

    The foreign ministry's general secretary for international economic relations and development cooperation, Panagiotis Michalos, represented the country at the 11th joint Greece-China inter-ministerial meeting here this week, followed by a meeting with the director of the foreign investment and economic cooperation department of Chinese commerce ministry, Wang Shenyang.

    The high-ranking Chinese official reportedly referred to the excellent prospects for an increase in Chinese investments in Greece following this week's closely watched Eurogroup decision in Brussels.

    On his part, Michalos emphasised the efforts being made by the Greek government to rejuvenate Greece's recession-battered economy, calling on Chinese investors to increase their presence in the east Mediterranean country.

    Michalos also referred to the need for a direct Beijing-Athens flight, a long-standing goal of successive Greek governments.

    The Greek official accompanied Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on his official visit to China, which included a round of meetings with Chinese leadership and business executives.

    The visit by the delegation also coincided with an investment seminar organised by the Greek embassy in Beijing, in cooperation with China's commerce ministry and Lazard Bank China, with the participation of the Invest in Greece agency.

    Michalos also met with Lou Jiwei, the president of the China Investment Corp. (CIC), the largest investment agency in the country that now boasts the world's second largest economy.

    Labour sector legislation in Greece, reactions amongst Greek society to recent measures, the tax regime in the country and the state of the domestic banking sector dominated talks, along with the Samaras government's privatisation plan and efforts to attract FDIs.

    CIC manages assets and capital worth 400 billion euros.

    [22] Greece-China tradeshow inaugurated by Dep. FM in Beijing

    BEIJING (AMNA)

    The 1st Business to Business (B2B) Tradeshow of Greece-China was inaugurated in Beijing by Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Thursday.

    The tradeshow includes numerous Greek companies specialising in olive oil, wine, cheese and honey products, among others.

    Kourkoulas, who is in the Chinese capital to attract new investments in Greece, said there was strong interest expressed by major Chinese investors in importing Greek products.

    "We are trying to improve the existing framework, but in the end it is private initiative and action that counts," he said, calling on entrepreneurs in both countries to take advantage of bilateral cooperation prospects.

    The event isorganised by the Greece-China Institute of Economic & Cultural Action with the support of the Greek embassy.

    [23] Meeting between FinMin and Greek Banks Union directorate concluded without agreement

    The meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the directorate of the Hellenic Bank Association on Thursday, focusing on the participation or not of local banks in the bonds repurchasing programme, was concluded without statements being made by the two sides.

    According to reports from bank officials, an agreement was not reached during the meeting since the troika (EU, ECB and IMF) disagrees with the "credit backing" if the Greek banks participate in the programme.

    [24] Eurogroup decisions on loan mark end to speculation: Alpha Bank report

    The Nov. 27 Eurogroup decisions are a milestone for Greece, regardless of the difficulties the fiscal adjustment programme might present in its implementation, according to an Alpha Bank economic bulletin issued on Thursday.

    These decisions ended all "wishful thinking" for a "disorderly default" in Greece, the bank analysts noted, including assertions that the country would be unable to implement the fiscal adjustment programme and thus be forced to leave the eurozone.

    Greece will emerge from the crisis stronger with reinforced credibility, competitiveness and economic growth, while maintaining its dignity and winning international respect, they added. The right conditions are present that will allow the return of economic fluidity, as bank deposits registered a further increase in October for the fourth consecutive month.

    [25] IMF welcomes Greek bond buy back announcement

    WASHINGTON (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will wait for implementation of a Greek bond buy back process before moving on with internal procedures to reach a decision over the release of a next tranche of an aid to Greece, Gerry Rice, the IMF's spokesman said here on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, the IMF spokesman declined to comment in response to a press question on whether the Fund was considering a "plan B" in case the bond buy back programme was not successful.

    Rice reiterated that the agreement reached in a Eurogroup meeting was "significant and specific" and that these measures could help to bring Greek debt back to a sustainable path, and welcomed the European partners' commitment to bring the country's debt below 110 pct of GDP by 2022, something dependent on the "full implementation" of the programe by Greece.

    He also referred to "significant efforts" made by the Greek government to promoting fiscal and structural reforms. Rice also welcomed an announcement by Greek authorities to begin, next week, a bond buy back process. The IMF spokesman said IMF director Christine Lagarde will not participate in the next Eurogroup meeting.

    [26] Ministry to lease non-agricultural land for major investments

    The agricultural development and foods ministry on Thursday announced that it is going ahead with the long-term lease of four parcels of uncultivated land to be used by major investments in production, each exceeding three million euro. In the first phase of the project the land put up for lease covers 216 hectares, with a tender underway for the signature of 25-year leases.

    So far, a number of investors have expressed interest and submitted business plans whose total value exceeds 200 million euro and might create more than 300 jobs.

    Agriculture minister Athanassios Tsaftaris noted that Greece might soon become a model of a modern competitive economy, "because the flexibility of its economy allows it".

    The leasing of non-agricultural land owned by the ministry, as with the distribution of agricultural land to the unemployed and young farmers, was made possible through a law on the management of the ministry's properties. According to the ministry's estimates, there are at least 10 large land parcels owned by the ministry that could be used to house major investments.

    [27] Budget revenues from income tax up 4.4pct in Jan-Oct

    Budget revenues from income tax rose to 10.9 billion euro in the 10-month period January-October this year, marking a 4.4 percent increase against 10.5 billion euro in the corresponding year in 2011, according to figures submitted to parliament by deputy finance minister George Mavraganis on Thursday.

    Of that sum, 8.2 billion euro are revenues from income tax on natural entities, 1.3 billion euro from income taxes on legal entities and another 1.3 billion euro from income taxes on 'special categories'.

    According to the Finance Ministry document, revenues from income tax on natural entities increased by 23.4 percent in the 10-month period this year, while revenues from income tax on legal entities fell by 38.8 percent and revenues from income tax on 'special categories' declined by 15.5 percent.

    Also, revenues from property taxes rose to 2.3 billion euro in the 10-month period, of which 1.9 billion euro came from the extraordinary surtax on real estate that is collected via electricity bills (EETIDE), posting a whopping 483.9 percent increase over the same period last year.

    Budget revenues from the Value Added Tax (VAT) fell by 11.1 percent to 12.8 billion euro from 14.4 billion euro in the corresponding period in 2011. Of the 12.8 billion figure, just 2.1 billion euro were from the petrol products sector, posting a 7.7 decline against the same period in 2011.

    Further, revenues from tax on tobacco fell to 614 million euro, posting a 14.7 percent decline against the 10-month period last year, while 10 billion euro are from the "sundry revenues", which fell 11.6 percent against the corresponding period in 2011.

    [28] Olive oil production posts substantial increase

    Olive oil production in Greece during the current harvesting season is expected to reach 350,000 tons, up from the same period in 2011, in which production reached 295,000 tons.

    According to a Panhellenic Confederation of Unions of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES) report, based on agriculture ministry data, local consumption of olive oil over the last three years was roughly 230,000 tons per year. Consumption has posted a 20,000-40,000 ton decline due to the economic crisis and consumers' turn to cheaper oils.

    Olive oil exports reached 100,000 tons and the prospects are very encouraging. Greek olive oil is exported to Italy, Germany, USA and Canada, while China and Russia are among the important emerging markets for Greek olive oil.

    The wholesale price per kilo in the current period will rise to 2.4 euros/kilo in comparison with the same period in 2011, when it fell to 1.85 euros/kilo.

    [29] Folli Follie registers rise in sales, revenues for Jan.-Sep. 2012

    Folli Follie, a manufacturer and distributor of jewellery, watches and fashion accessories operating in 25 countries, posted an increase in sales and revenues for the January-September this year, the company announced on Thursday.

    Sales were up by 8.5 percent, to 841.5 million euros, more than 77.5 million euros for the same period last year. Gross revenues increased by 8.6 percent to 417.5 million euros. Operational revenues reached 151.9 million euros over 142.7 million euros last year, showing an increase of 6.4 percent.

    Pre-tax revenues reached 114.2 million euros over 103.7 million in 2011, an increase of 10.2 percent year-on-year. EBITDA reached 171.9 million euros, an increase of 6.9 percent, with a margin of 20.4 percent over 20.7 percent for the same period last year.

    Increases were registered in sales of the jewellery, watches and accesories sector (18.5 percent, or 430.5 million euros) and in Travel Retail (5.1 percent or 240.8 million euros), while a decrease was registered in sales in multi-stores/malls (by 4.7 percent to 89.5 million euros) and in the wholesale/retail clothing and shoes sectors (by 8.6 percent to 77.7 million euros).

    [30] Business Briefs

    -- The Thessaloniki Port Authority on Thursday reported a spectacular 75.58-pct increase in its nine-month profits, saying its turnover rose 7.73 pct in the January-September period, evidence that the city's port remained productive despite a serious economic crisis and a deep recession hitting the country.

    -- Quest Holdings on Thursday said sales fell 10 pct to 202.8 million euros in the January-September period, down from 225.8 million euros in the corresponding period last year.

    -- Production costs by Greek manufacturing enterprises grew 4.0 pct in October this year, reflecting higher electricity prices and higher tax burdens.

    -- Ellaktor Group on Thursday said its after tax and minorities earnings totaled 9.02 million euros in the January-September period, after losses of 36.23 million euros in the same period last year.

    -- Viohalco Group on Thursday reported a loss of 39.1 million euros, or 0.1959 euros per share, in the January-September period, after losses of 25.1 million euros, or 0.1258 euros per share, in the corresponding period last year.

    -- Sanyo Hellas Holdings on Thursday said consolidated turnover fell to 7.6 million euros in the January-September period, down from 11.6 million euros in the corresponding period in 2011.

    [31] Stocks end down on Thur.

    Stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, unable to hold on to their initial gains as investors preferred to take profits. Traders said market sentiment remained nervous ahead of government decisions over a Greek debt buy back programe.

    The composite index of the market fell 0.80 pct to end at 816.16 points, off the day's lows of 813.48 points. The index was up 1.75 pct early in the session. Turnover was a thin 52.64 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.53 pct and the Mid Cap index dropped 2.07 pct. The Commerce (2.97 pct), Travel (0.53 pct) and Oil (0.41 pct) sectors scored gains, while Technology (4.19 pct), Telecoms (2.79 pct) and Constructions (2.49 pct) suffered losses. Cyprus Popular Bak (8.33 pct), Folli Follie (3.0 pct) and Cyprus Bank (2.68 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (3.55 pct), National Bank (2.80 pct) and OTE (2.78 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 74 to 63 with another 20 issues unchanged. Progressive (29.59 pct), Sato (18.18 pct) and Kreka (15 pct) were top gainers, while Fieratex (29.75 pct), Nutriart (18.68 pct) and Kathimerini (16.92 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -1.14%

    Commercial: +2.97%

    Construction: -2.49%

    Oil & Gas: +0.41%

    Personal & Household: +0.36%

    Raw Materials: -0.83%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.53%

    Technology: -4.19%

    Telecoms: -2.79%

    Banks: +0.20%

    Food & Beverages: -0.88%

    Health: +1.10%

    Utilities: -1.26%

    Financial Services: -2.10%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.57

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.53

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.55

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.50

    National Bank of Greece: 1.39

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.69

    OPAP: 5.04

    OTE: 3.84

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.37

    Titan: 12.85

    [32] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 14.94 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.31 pct and the German Bund 1.37 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 6.0 million euros, of which 5.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 1.0 million euros was a sell order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.58 pct, the six-month rate was 0.35 pct, the three-month rate was 0.19 pct and the one-month rate was 0.10 pct.

    [33] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.41 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 13.897 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,174 contracts worth 6.104 million euros, with 30,548 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 51,963 contracts worth 7.793 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (19,313), followed by Alpha Bank (13,816), Piraeus Bank (6,999), Cyprus Bank (1,913), OTE (1,250), OPAP (1,512), Cyprus Popular Bank (1,244), Eurobank (2,300), GEK (843), PPC (815), Ellaktor (310), Intralot (786) and Mytilineos (389).

    [34] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.318

    Pound sterling 0.822

    Danish kroner 7.572

    Swedish kroner 8.766

    Japanese yen 108.32

    Swiss franc 1.222

    Norwegian kroner 7.460

    Canadian dollar 1.307

    Australian dollar 1.261

    General News

    [35] Research in 'Antikythera Wreck' area

    The site of the Antikythera wreck was re-established during underwater archaeological studies conducted between 1-18 October by the Underwater Antiquities Ephorate with the cooperation and technological support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the largest oceanographic institution in the US.

    The studies focused on an archaeological review of the sea area of Antikythera island and the location of antiquities as well as the substantiation and re-establishment of the precise site of the famous 'Antikythera Wreck'.

    Intact and broken amphorae were found as well as ceramic items, as well as sections of the vessel's lead anchor, impressive that are indicative of how the ship sank.

    The wreck of the ancient cargo ship was discovered off Antikythera Island at a depth of 42 m (138 ft) before Easter 1900, by Elias Stadiatis, a Greek sponge diver.

    [36] Virtual art guiding tour at New Acropolis Museum

    The New Acropolis Museum will host the work of performing artists working utilising a "virtual reality" environment in an alternative museum tour called "Symphony of a Missing Room", held between Dec. 7 and 13.

    The performance is part of the international MIRfestival, which supports new artists combining performance arts and new audiovisual media to offer an alternative way of experiencing the arts.

    Swedish artists Christer Lundahl and Martina Seitl focused on transforming a tour of the New Acropolis Museum into an exploration of visitors' relationship with the arts.

    The artists will give five performances a day from Friday, Dec. 7 until Thursday, Dec. 13, except for Monday, Dec. 10, a day the museum is closed. Admission is free, but phone reservations are necessary.

    [37] Noted linguist details similarities between Doric Greek, ancient Macedonian in Melbourne lecture

    MELBOURNE (AMNA / S. Hatzimanolis)

    Noted linguist, lexicographer and academic Giorgos Babiniotis on Tuesday presented here research detailing how the ancient Macedonians had shaped a Greek dialect based on the structure of the Doric dialect, best known as the form of Greek spoken by the Spartans, among others.

    Prof. Babiniotis told an audience at the University of Melbourne that the ancient Macedonians used this dialect in spoken form, by ordinary people, while the Attic Greek dialect was used by the kingdom's royalty, such as King Philip II, in a bid to unify the rest of Greece, as proved by thousands of inscriptions unearthed over the decades by archaeologists.

    According to research launched in the early 20th century by German and British linguists, there are roughly 250 words, mainly nouns, found in texts dating from Homer's and Herodotus' eras that were identified by commentators in antiquity as originating from the ancient spoken Macedonian dialect.

    Babiniotis also emphasised that there was no "single ancient Greek language", but four main dialects, each used in the written literature of different eras. The Attic dialect replaced them after 480 BC.

    Babiniotis also touched on a decidedly contemporary political difference, whose aspects have often included "antique" references, stressing that the Bulgarian-Serb language spoken in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), the landlocked ex-Yugoslav republic that mostly lies to the north of where historical and geographical Macedonia is located, stressing that "we respect the language, history and traditions of the people in the neighbouring country. However, it is obvious, based on what I have already said, that the term 'Macedonian' they use to name their language causes confusion and is historically and culturally unacceptable.

    "Based on the analysis already made it has absolutely no relation with the (ancient) dialect of the Macedonians."

    The lecture was given in English at the university's Wright Theatre.

    [38] Vovos released on bail after testimony for overdue state debts

    Greek businessman Babis Vovos was released on bail and forbidden to leave the country after testifying before an examining magistrate for not paying outstanding debts to the state on Thursday.

    Vovos did not deny the debts referred to in the case, amounting to 1.1 million euro, but claimed that 503,000 euro of that sum concerning taxes on wages was not overdue. He claimed that the particular portion of the debt would become finally due in about a month and that he intends to take steps to secure a settlement before that time.

    The magistrate and public prosecutor handling the case agreed that Vovos should be released after posting 100,000 euro in bail and banned from leaving the country.

    [39] Cancer patient at hospital placed under arrest for illegal migration

    A foreign cancer patient that sought treatment at the 'Agioi Anargyroi' Hospital was placed under arrest after the hospital's management reported her for lacking legal residence documents, the hospital doctors' union reported on Thursday.

    The patient had been transferred from the Metaxa Cancer Hospital to undergo a major operation, which was performed and paid for by her relatives because she was not insured.

    But the hospital governor then reported her to police for lacking valid documents allowing her to be in Greece, so that the seriously ill patient was now being treated under guard.

    The action prompted the intervention of Deputy Health Minister Fotini Skopouli, who asked Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias to remove the police from the hospital and received assurances that the matter will be dealt with using the "required care and humanitarian approach".

    [40] Authorities intercept illegal consignment of copper

    Greek authorities on Thursday intercepted a truck with Bulgarian license plates carrying an illegal consignment of copper at Igoumenitsa port, following a check conducted by teams attached to the Epirus financial crimes squad (SDOE) regional branch.

    Because there were strong indications that the illegal load might be made up of stolen goods, it was confiscated and an agreement made the Igoumenitsa public prosecutor to conduct further investigation.

    [41] Olympic Games Museum exhibits to return on Sunday

    Artifacts and exhibits stolen from the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games at Ancient Olympia in February will be returned to the museum on Sunday and allow its collection to be presented complete, the Education, Religions, Culture and Sport ministry announced on Thursday.

    Weather forecast

    [42] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures between 7C and 21C. Rainy in Athens with southerly 6-7 beaufort winds and temperatures between 14C and 20C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 12C and 19C.

    The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Cabinet meeting and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' orders to his ministers, the anticipated regulation for the settlement of overdue debts and the race for the bonds buy-back, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    AVGHI: "The 'solution' a bubble - New looting of the social security funds".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Asphyxiation: Memorandum in every ministry"

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Regulation 'breather' for debts to Tax Bureau".

    ESTIA: "Channel of optimism".

    ETHNOS: "7 bln euros list".

    IMERISSIA: "Battle for the bonds".

    KATHIMERINI: "Plan for liquidity in the market".

    LOGOS: "The difficult stuff starts now".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "New favourable regulation for the overdue debts".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "They escalate the massacre of the people".

    TA NEA: "The 'Herod' tax (abolition of tax deduction for families with children) divides the government".

    TO PONTIKI: "Lies in installments".

    VRADYNI: "Pensions: All the changes for the professionals".

    6 DAYS: "Government leaves the social security funds without a cent".

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