|Sunday, 20 May 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-01-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 15 January 2013 Issue No: 4270
 Greek government examines ways to boost investmentsThe Greek government is determined to help attract new investments in the country and to improve the competitiveness of Greek enterprises. The issue was discussed during a meeting on Monday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with the presidency of Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, the finance minister said: "We discussed ways towards improving competitiveness in the industrial sector, it's a first step and we will continue discussions".
Commenting on a journalist's questions on whether the country has fulfilled all prerequisites for the disbursement of the next tranche of rescue aid, Stournaras said: "We are fulfilling them, slowly".
Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said the meeting exchanged views over liquidity in the economy, strengthening competitiveness and investment climate in the country, with the government offering reassurances that actions will be taken to establish a positive environment for investments.
SEV's president Dimitris Daskalopoulos, told reporters he offered to the Prime Minister three lists: the first on investments totaling 12 billion euros by the 100 largest enterprises made during the crisis; the second presenting 250 innovation proposals; and the third listing 220 business activities in cutting-edge technologies. "These are lists of health and creation," Daskalopoulos said, adding these lists offered evidence that we could be optimistic about economic developments in the country.
 SEV president on necessary changes, reformsHellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos requested from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, during the meeting at the Maximos Mansion also attended Finance and Development Ministers Yannis Stournaras and Kostis Hatzidakis and SEV officials, the completion in the next two years of the necessary changes and reforms "that are either tottering or stagnant", privatisations, the opening of all markets, the utilisation of public property, the radical restructuring of public administration, the regrouping of the first stage sector, the speeding up of procedures in justice and educational reform.
An extensive discussion was held on the situation currently prevailing in the economy and the need was stressed for the shaping of a realistic and permanent climate of optimism that will come, as it was underlined, only by the economy's restarting.
On the part of SEV, Daskalopoulos stressed the significance of the burdens sustained by industry over the past year and which, as he announced, reach up to 35 percent (taxes, environmental costs, etc). The SEV president also said that solutions exist in the framework of EU legislation that must be utilised.
 Schaeuble to Tsipras: No alternative to austerity programmeBERLIN (AMNA - F. Karaviti)
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble stressed that there was no alternative to the tough austerity reforms currently being implemented in Greece, during his meeting on Monday with Greece's main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras.
A German finance ministry source quoted by Reuters said Schaeuble "told Mr. Tsipras unequivocally that there is no alternative to the ... implementation of the economic adjustment programme. Minister Schaeuble urged Mr Tsipras to back the path embarked upon."
In statements after the meeting, Tsipras described his meeting with the German finance minister as friendly, useful, constructive, and a "good start", even though their differences remained wide.
During the roughly hour-long meeting with the German finance minister, Greece's main opposition leader insisted that the tough austerity policies imposed on Greece had failed.
"The austerity memorandums had been rejected by life itself. Now we must deal with their impact: poverty, unemployment, the rise of fascism. This nightmare must not return or spread across Europe," said Tsipras. Greece's main opposition leader called for an "alternative economic policy" and social justice that would allow vital reforms to rebuild the state and reorganise production to have duration. "Our vision is to see Greece exiting the crisis with its people standing on their feet," he said, adding that the country must be freed from the mistakes of the past and of the establishment forces responsible for leading it to this point.
Sources close to both men later assessed the results of the meeting as positive and useful, even though there was no shift in position on either side in terms of ideology or political strategy.
SYRIZA officials said that Tsipras had taken pains to stress that his party wanted Greece to remain in the Eurozone and believed that a Greek exit from the euro would benefit neither Greece nor Germany, while creating problems for the common currency.
He outlined SYRIZA's position for an exit from the crisis in three ways: firstly through a primary surplus achieved by eradicating tax evasion, higher taxation of wealth and making revenues and spending equal to the European average; secondly through structural reforms combined with transparency and thirdly by management of debt, through a European Conference on Debt for all the EU countries currently embroiled in the debt crisis and plunged into austerity and recession.
Another issue raised by the Greek delegation during the meeting, SYRIZA sources said, was that of a forced WWII Nazi occupation loan and the relevant initiative on this issue launched by Manolis Glezos, which Tsipras said had SYRIZA's support.
The German finance minister, on his part, made it clear that Greece must fulfill the commitments undertaken under the terms of bailout loans in order to remain in the Eurozone and pointed to the recent Standard & Poors upgrade in Greece's credit rating as evidence that austerity reforms were delivering the desired result.
 Tsipras: Stance on austerity has been vindicatedBERLIN (AMNA/F. Karaviti)
Greek main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he felt vindicated by the recent change of tone of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding austerity, in an interview on the webpage "euobserver" appearing on Monday, hours before he was scheduled to meet with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in the German capital.
On his imminent meeting with Schaeuble, Tsipras said that he did not intent to change his opinion on the austerity demanded of Greece by the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and IMF 'Troika' of Greece's lenders. "I don't believe that Mr. Schaeuble believes that after this meeting I will be convinced to support the Troika's programme. It is a good opportunity, though, for us to exchange views," he said, adding that "the first step to exchanging views under normal circumstances would be for us to agree with respect to the present situation, and the present situation is that the Troika's programme is a failure".
According to the web report, Tsipras wants to reform the current programme much beyond the changes agreed last year that gave Greece two additional years to achieve its targets, and also calls for full write-off of the debt.
"Austerity is like a bad medicine for the patient. We must stop the austerity," Tsipras said, noting that the IMF itself recently acknowledged that it had made mistaken estimates of the repercussions of the cutbacks. "That is why we feel vindicated after three years of criticizing the programme," he said.
 Armed attack against ND Headquarters in AthensUnknown individuals fired against the New Democracy (ND) headquarters on Syggrou Avenue in central Athens at 3:00 a.m. on Monday.
Police who rushed to the scene found nine kalashnikov automatic rifle shells on the pavement outside the ND headquarters.
According to ND, a bullet was found in Prime Minister and ND leader Antonis Samaras' office, which had shattered a window, hit the ceiling, then a wall, and ended up on the floor of the office.
According to later reports a second Kalashnikov bullet was found on the roof of the building
Meanwhile, a burned car was later found in the coastal Athens district of Paleo Faliro, which according to police was used in the attack.
The counter-terrorism squad is conducting an investigation.
According to early information, the attackers were two, and are believed to have shot at the ND headquarters at 340 Syggrou Avenue from the traffic islet separating the two lane directions before fleeing in a car, believed to be the torched vehicle found later in Paleo Faliro, that was possibly driven by a third accomplice.
Police believe that the torched car is the escape car as it fits the description of the escaped car given by eye-witnesses. The vehicle had been reported stolen on Sunday night from Metamorphossi district.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou made a plea to all the political to assume their responsibilities.
"There is no 'good' or 'bad' violence. Violence is one and must be ostracized from our society", he said and spoke of "an attempt to instill terror in our society" and of attacks that target democracy".
 PM Samaras: 'Democracy cannot be terrorised'"Democracy cannot be terrorised," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stressed on arriving at the New Democracy party's head office in Synggrou avenue in Athens on Monday.
"You can shoot a man, or a building, as they did. But you cannot shoot Democracy. Let those who should hear this, therefore, take note: Democracy cannot be terrorised," he said.
Samaras made the statement in the wake of an attack on the party's headquarters on Monday morning, in which an unidentified man fired a series of shots against the building using a Kalashnikov automatic weapon.
 SYRIZA on attack against ND offices; Tsipras speaks on phone with PMMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who is currently in Berlin, on Monday telephoned Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to express his support over the early-morning armed attack against New Democracy's headquarters in Athens.
Meanwhile, SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis, speaking on public television NET on Monday, said that SYRIZA absolutely condemns the attack against the ND headquarters. "Such actions disorient the people from the burning issues of the conjuncture, spread the fear among the citizens and intimidate the public opinion. From what I hear from the government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, I see that the necessary calm does not exist," said Skourletis and referred to "an attempted plan of tension, division and of targeting SYRIZA".
 PASOK leader contact with PM; party statement on attackPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Monday had a phone contact with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to whom he expressed his support over the armed attack against the New Democracy (ND) offices in Athens. According to sources the two officials will meet to discuss ways to deal with similar incidents.
Meanwhile, the PASOK party issued an announcement on the attack in which it refers to "criminal methods of the underworld" that indicate "that rings exist that are ruthlessly playing with violence and are directly aimed against the democratic state".
Moreover, the party's announcement noted that "condemnations only of the terrorist action, or the police doing its job, are not enough".
"The condemnation must come in unison from the Greek society, and at the same time all the political forces that respect democracy and the just state must reach agreement and cooperate amongst themselves", PASOK added.
PASOK further accused main opposition SYRIZA of attempting to take political and party advantage of the phenomena of violence. "No one has the right to use the phenomena of violence for political and party exploitation and the irresponsible and historically-ignorant statements of SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis prove how dangerous and impasse-making are the minced words and the ambivalences".
 DIMAR condemns attack against ND headquartersDemocratic Left (DIMAR) party in an announcement on Monday unequivocally condemned an early morning terrorist attack against New Democracy's (ND) headquarters, saying such actions targeted society and constituted a serious issue for democracy.
"Such incidents," says DIMAR announcement, "constitute a serious issue for our democracy and are turned against the society."
?The unanimous condemnation of the phenomena of violence from the entire political world is necessary at this hour. It is mandatory that a strong democratic political front is created that will isolate those who terrorize. Violence is fascism," added DIMAR, one of the junior parties participating in the three-party coalition government.
 Independent Greeks: Recent violence aims at creating fear, destabilizing the countryThe Independent Greeks party on Monday attributed the recent spate of violence, culminating with the armed attack against the New Democracy (ND) Headquarters in Athens earlier in the day on "interests that aim at disorienting the public opinion, creating fear and destabilizing the country".
A party announcement said that on the day that the "unconstitutional concession of the country's national sovereignty and asylum was being discussed and voted on in parliament, some quarters chose that violence will be the top issue".
It said that benefiting from this were "those who seek the destabilization of the country and the cultivation of fear, and those who want the Greek people to be absent from parliament today, in the hours that the surrender of Greece to its lenders is being voted".
KKE leader: 'We condemn individual terrorism and bomb attacks, but the issue is where they are targeted at and from where they originate'
"Condemnation is self-evident, such actions are not at expression of displeasure or punishment, while today's episode indicates an escalation," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said Monday morning on private MEGA television station, referring to a pre-dawn armed attack against the New Democracy (ND) headquarters in Athens.
Referring to an early morning statement by ND secretary Michalis Kefaloyannis calling for condemnation of "violence by the extremes and extreme actions", she said that ND would do better to "seek out the purpose of such actions", adding that the KKE does not align itself with the exploitation of such actions to "put the popular indignation into one bag". She said that some quarters are speaking of violence "and each one means whatever he wants, given that they consider the strikes and guarding of the strikes, including struggles, as violence".
"We condemn individual terrorism and bomb attacks, but the issue at hand is where they are aimed and from where the originate, and in addition we do not care about who 'signs' (with 'revolutionary' names)," Papariga continued, adding that "the issue occupies us greatly, as there is interest in putting the people in a plaster cast".
She said that the clash between ND and main opposition SYRIZA was "ridiculous" and reproduces a two-party clash, adding that "the harsh clash should be over the content of policy and its substance", and opined that ND and SYRIZA do not have major differences.
On the Lagarde list, she said that this confirmed that capital and profits existed that are produced in Greece and that stagnant capital also existed that could not find a field of investment for more profit. "There will be some kind of recovery, but its cycle will include the sperm of the next, deeper crisis," Papariga predicted, adding that any recovery will b accompanied by cheap labor and elastic relations of non-permanent work for the working people
 Parliament condemns attack on ND HeadquartersThe parliamentary parties on Monday condemned an early-morning attack against the New Democracy (ND) Headquarters in Athens, before beginning a debate on an omnibus bill containing several Legislative Acts that are "prior actions" for the disbursement of January's installment of the EU/IMF bailout loan to Greece.
"New Democracy will continue on its own course, effort and contribution to democracy. No terrorist act can intimidat4e us, and our effort to restore law and order will continue unobstructed," ND parliamentary spokesman MP Makis Voridis said, adding that ND expects similar statements of condemnation of violence and terrorism from the entire political world, so that the unanimity of all the political forces in the condemnation of such phenomena may be shown.
"We unequivocally condemn these actions, which undermine democracy and the country's course. This is SYRIZA's steadfast position which it adheres to not only in words but also in actions, raising a wall against such phenomena," main opposition SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Panayiotis Lafazanis said.
"Once again, some sides decided, with armed action, to strike a blow against democracy. We unequivocally condemn the fact that certain sides come tine and again with such actions," PASOK parliamentary spokesman Mihalis Chryssohoidis said, noting that Greece is now the only European country to have such phenomena, which strike a blow at the heart of the country, in other words at investments and social tranquility.
"It is self-evident, and our duty, to condemn any attack, the more so against a parliamentary party," Independent Greeks parliamentary spokesman Terrence Quick said, adding that a continuity of coincidences need to be discussed. Parliament, he said, has a heavy programme beginning with the Villa Amalia affair, the fire-bomb attacks on journalists' homes, the fire-bomb attack on the home of government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou's brother, and today's attack against the ND headquarters.
Ultra-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) parliamentary spokesman Christos Pappas opined that the three-party government "benefits from the bizarre violence of the past few days", adding that his party condemns all forms of violence "because it has known first-hand what violence means, with tens of bomb and murderous attacks against its cadres".
Democratic Left (DIMAR) parliamentary spokesman Nikos Tsoukalis called the recent escalation of violence "an extremely worrisome phenomenon", adding that "a verbal condemnation does not suffice, but rather an integrated plan is needed and it is the duty of all the political forces to resoundingly state their determination to comprise the democratic political arch against this phenomenon".
The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) of this attack is self-evident, KKE parliamentary spokesman Thanassis Pafilis said, noting however that "what is happening, objectively, is a disorientation of the people". He added that, especially, the attack on the ND is more complex with regard to both the purpose and the symbolism.
 US condemns recent violent acts in GreeceNEW YORK (AMNA/G.Panagiotou)
The US government condemns the "recent violence in Greece," Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters here on Monday during a regular briefing of the press.
Responding to a question regarding "terrorist attacks" against journalists, last week, and New Democracy party headquarters on Monday, Nuland said "we obviously condemn the recent violence in Greece."
She called on Greek citizens to express their views by "protesting peacefully," adding that "resorting to violence is never justified."
 PM Samaras to hold meeting with PASOK, Democratic Left leaders on TuesdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras will be having a meeting at the Maximos Mansion at 6 p.m. on Tuesday with PASOK party president Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis.
According to reports, the recent cases of violence will be discussed among other things, that heightened with the attack on the offices of the New Democracy party in Syngrou avenue and the shots at Samaras's office in the building.
 European Commission satisfied with ratification of tax bill by Greek ParliamentBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)
Simon O'Connor, a spokesman for Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn, on Monday expressed the European Commission's satisfaction over the ratification of the tax bill by the Greek Parliament late last week.
Rehn's representative stressed that the tax bill's ratification constitutes a considerable step towards the simplification of the Greek tax system and the widening of the tax base. He added that the tax issue as well as the increase in rates of the PPC constitute two of the most important prerequisites for the disbursement of the next tranche of the loans to Greece to be approved, amounting to 9.2 billion euros in January. He further said that the approval of the disbursement will be decided by the EFSF's board.
Lastly, as regards Cyprus, O'Connor assessed that Pimco's report on the state of the country's fiscal system will be ready soon.
 Finance ministry's omnibus bill ratified in ParliamentThe Finane ministry's omnibus bill was ratified in principle and in its articles, following rollcall ballots called for by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party and the Independent Greeks party.
- The bill was sanctioned in principle by 166 deputies out of a total of 290 present, it was voted against by 123 deputies, while one deputy declared "present".
- Article 35 (labour issues) was ratified by 151 deputies, voted against by 136 and 3 declared "present".
- Article 31(arrangements for private education) was ratified by 165 deputies, voted against by 122 and 3 deputies declared "present".
- The rest of the articles for which a rollcall vote was called for were ratified by 166 deputies, voted against by 121, while 3 declared "present".
Discussion of the finance ministry's new omnibus bill began before the Parliament plenum on Monday but not without criticism from the junior coalition parties, PASOK and Democratic Left (DIM.AR), who criticised the ministry for including non-urgent measures that would now have to be voted using urgent procedures without time for the required processing.
The opposition parties, meanwhile, have accused the coalition of violating democratic rules and circumventing Parliament, as well as "demoting Greece to a debt colony" due to the many instances in the bill where the country waives clauses guaranteeing state property against claims by the country's creditors.
 PASOK leader accuses SYRIZA of 'flirting' with violence, denies that bill undermines sovereigntyAddressing Parliament during the debate on the urgent finance ministry omnibus bill on Monday, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos accused the main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) party of "political bewilderment friendly toward terrorism" and of 'flirting' with acts of violence. He also dismissed claims that the omnibus bill in any way undermined the country's national sovereignty and that the agreements with Greece's creditors placed national resources such as oil, natura gas or monuments at risk.
"At a time when we should display national unity and social cohesion - and must be the greatest possible consensus and alignment condemn such [phenomena of violence] as a society and a political system - we are seeing another picture: a bewilderment that is friendly toward acts of violence. A flirtation with acts of violence, a tendency toward praising them," he said.
Venizelos said that PASOK, one of the two junior parties in Greece's coalition government, considered reforms an absolute necessity for the country's recovery and therefore supported the omnibus bill, but not some of the measures that had been "thrown in".
 Minister's planned comment on terror strike prompts SYRIZA walk-out from ParliamentMain opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) walked out of Parliament on Monday after Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias announced his intention to talk about Monday morning's terror strike on the New Democracy party's offices during a debate on the finance ministry's omnibus bill.
Both SYRIZA and the opposition Independent Greeks party vociferously protested the minister's plans, on the grounds that they were eating up the time available for discussion of the bill, which has been tabled as urgent and had to be rushed through Parliament with minimal debate.
MPs from the opposition parties also criticised the addresses given by several government ministers that they said had greatly restricted the time alloted to opposition MPs.
Addressing Parliament, Dendias said that the main opposition had walked out "because they do not want to hear what I have to say" and that he was making an "a heartfelt appeal" for the political world to support the public order ministry's efforts.
"It is no one's right to break, loot and throw petrol bombs. These are unacceptable practices in any country," Dendias said.
The minister's intervention came in the wake of a spate of attacks, including the shots fired at the offices of the senior coalition government party ND in the morning, the petrol bomb thrown at the house of government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou's brother and petrol bombs lobbed at the houses of five journalists.
 Dep. FM meets with Van RompuyDeputy Foreign Minister Constantinos Tsiaras, who is paying an official visit to Egypt, met on Sunday with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy who was also in Cairo.
During his meeting with Rompuy, Tsiaras noted that the common decisions taken regarding the implementation of the stability programme, had given the opportunity to Greece and to Europe to prove that the eurozone should be rescued, and expressed the hope that 2013 will be the year that will signal the start of development in Greece.
On his part, Van Rompuy praised Greece's efforts and described as 'a miracle' what the country has achieved in the recent months, adding that not only Greece but also the entire eurozone must continue on the same path, and estimated that 2013 will be the last difficult year.
The Greek official, who arrived in Egypt on Saturday, had a series of meetings with Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and All Africa, members of the Greek community and representatives of the business world with the aim to activate the Chambers of the two countries.
Van Rompuy was in Egypt reciprocating Egypt President Mohammed Morsi's visit to Brussels in the context of the EU-Egypt deliberations regarding economic support to Egypt.
 Greece's European Commissioner meets Greek presidentGreek European Commissioner Maria Damanaki on Monday paid a visit to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. As she left the meeting, Damanaki said their talks had focused on developments in Europe and the prevailing climate concerning Greece in Brussels, following the adoption of the new bailout memorandum.
According to Damanaki, the climate in Europe concerning Greece was improved because "the worst has been avoided".
She stressed that it was now Greece's turn to take action and present its own proposals for growth, effective public administration and the way the banking system works, rather than leaving these things up to its creditors.
 FM Avramopoulos meets SG of AKEL partyGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos received on Monday visiting secretary general of Cyprus' ruling leftwing AKEL party Andros Kyprianou. Talks focused on the Cyprus problem and current developments in the European Union.
Kyprianou was also received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
 Meeting between SYRIZA, AKEL delegationsAn announcement by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) said that Monday's meeting between delegations of SYRIZA and Cyprus' left wing AKEL party confirmed the "comrade and sincere relations between the two parties".
The two delegations discussed the political situation in Greece and Cyprus, while an extensive discussion was held on the negotiations between Nicosia and the troika and the issue of research for natural gas in Cyprus.
SYRIZA's delegation, according to the announcement, showed special interest in the founding of a Hydrocarbons Fund that is being promoted in Cyprus that will concern investments for the creation of the necessary energy infrastructures, while AKEL's delegation expressed its concern over the ongoing Turkish Cypriot and Turkish intransigence.
 SEEMO expresses concern over attacks against Greek journalistsVIENNA (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
The Organisation of Mass Media of Southeastern Europe (SEEMO), headquartered in Vienna, in an announcement on Monday expresses concern over the bomb attacks against the homes of journalists in Athens on January 11.
According to the Organisation's secretary general Oliver Vujovic, this is "a new alarming escalation of violence against the media and journalists in Greece. SEEMO is concerned over the number of violent incidents and the various forms of pressure that is being exercised on journalists in Greece over the past 12 months and calls on the Greek authorities to investigate these cases urgently and find the culprits."
 Greece has great potential to advance, Stournaras saysGreece "has great advancing potential," and "its economic diplomacy and international relations can help in attracting investors and entrepreneurs interested in domestic production," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told an event organized Monday by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), during which an award of excellence was given to former prime minister Lucas Papademos.
Stournaras said the government has started laying the foundations for a new and modern state, of rational structures, clear legislation and swift processes.
"If we can manage to exceed the primary results in 2013, up to 70% of that excess can be distributed to social groups in real need", he stressed, adding that "European perspective, growth, employment, innovation, competition and focusing on export activity, should be the targets uniting Greek people... I am convinced that we'll do just fine, as we Greeks always show the best in us at the worst of conditions."
Referring to former premier, Stournaras said "Papademos will be among the personalities that history will reward for their contribution to Greece."
 Development minister on liquidity in the market"Liquidity, the economy's lifeblood, should be urgently boosted in the market is as businesses are suffering from a lack of it," Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, told the board of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) on Monday evening.
The minister placed emphasis on the completion of banks' recapitalisation saying that in any case the ministry, to the degree corresponding to it, is developing parallel actions and continuing on the path of structural changes "so that our economy will become competitive, extroversive, friendly to investments and entrepreneurship. For the preconditions to be created for new jobs, new opportunities and possibilities for businesses".
Hatzidakis referred to the problem facing import-export businesses with letters of guarantee to suppliers, saying that from April the programme on providing guarantees for overseas trade will be implemented.
The minister also placed great importance on ESPA, saying that the target for absorbing funds agreed for 2013 stands at 3.89 billion euros, bigger and even more ambitious than last year's. He said he was optimistic "because we achieved the target for the second half of 2012 and we are moving, already, above the EU average".
 Greece unveils 456-mln-euro support programme for SMEsThe Greek government on Monday unveiled a new programme, worth 456 million euros, for the support of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the sectors of tourism, commerce and services.
The programme was announced by the secretary-generals of Investments, Industry and Tourism, G. Giannousis, Sp. Efstathopoulos and G. Pyrgiotis.
Speaking to reporters, the three ministry officials stressed that the program aimed to support existing enterprises and create 10,000 new ones, along with 4,000 new job positions. The programme, backed by Community funding, envisages offering support that is between 40-60 pct of the investment budget, depending on the geographical region. The program will cover investments on equipment, building facilities and environmental protection equipment.
 Suspension of tax bureau offices to be completed in MarchThe Finance Ministry has completed the second part of its plan for the merger of the Tax Bureau offices around the country.
The plan foresees the suspension of the operation of 51 Tax bureau offices, in fulfillment of a Memorandum commitment for the operation of a total of 120 Tax Bureau offices throughout the entire country in 2013 from 290 offices in 2011.
Moreover, the dematerialization of the car circulation sticker and payment of the circulation fees only via banks and post offices brought substantial profits to the state and the citizens, a Finance Ministry announcement said.
According to the Finance Ministry 1,130 million euros were collected by January 8 against 1,080 million euros in the same period in 2012.
 Four banks pay back the state ? 555.6 millionThe Greek government has received ? 555.6 million by four Greek banks, which got a capital boost, as shown in a letter by the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), tabled in parliament on Monday by alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.
Staikouras specifically informed the parliament that on December 12, 2012, Eurobank paid the Greek state ? 154 million, while Piraeus Bank paid ? 133 million, National Bank ? 115.6 million and Alpha Bank ? 153 million.
The letter was tabled in parliament in response to former parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis' accusation of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras that he refrained from providing details regarding the recapitalisation operation of Greek banks, as well as of when the banks would pay back the funds owned to the state as a result of their first recapitalisation.
"The government legislated and enforced the specific initiative in spite of the main opposition's estimations to the contrary," Staikouras said.
 New fiscal bill to impose car tax as of 2014Cars with engine capacity of 1,929 cubic centimeters or over will be taxed 5-10 pct annually as of 2014, according to provisions in the fiscal policy bill expected to be voted in Parliament on Monday.
The measure will affect cars circulating this year and the tax will be based on criteria already in use as personal exemptions (tekmiria) by tax services. Cars over 10 years old or those belonging to people who are handicapped will be exempt from the tax. A similar tax, of 10 pct, is expected to be levied on private yachts, airplanes, helicopters, gliders, and pools, whether indoor or outdoor.
The bill also includes a provision for a special tax of 6-10 pct on foreign currency imported by shipping companies. The annual measure, which will last four years, does not include coastal passenger ships and merchant ships on domestic routes.
 Undeclared work rose to 36 percent in Greece in 2012Undeclared work has reached 36 percent in the country, rising as much as 44 percent in some regions, while 42 percent of uninsured workers were foreigners without legal documents, a report on "black" labour in 2012 said on Monday.
The report was conducted by inspectors of the special agency of insurance control of the country's Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) and was based on inspections made during the previous year. The report said that from a total of 19,083 inspections made in 2012, 1,038 enterprises did not reported on their workforce. The report also said that 22,006 workers were undeclared (out of a total 60,796 in the inspections), or 36 percent. The inspection agencies imposed fines totaling 11.9 million euros.
Undeclared work was 30 percent in 2011, while the percentage of uninsured foreign workers was 40 percent during the same year.
Markos Tountas, director general of the agency, speaking to AMNA attributed this development to higher taxation and high levels of social insurance contributions. Also, long-term unemployment and unregulated illegal immigration in the country created a new large category of workers with limited demands who are seeking jobs in the unofficial labour market, he noted.
 Agreement signed for tram line extension to Piraeus, development ministry saysThe construction firm Themeli and Attiko Metro SA have signed a contract for the extension of the tram line from the terminal at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro to the port of Piraeus, the development ministry announced on Monday. Work on the project is due to begin in March and is due to be completed by February 2015.
The agreement, delayed by four years, was signed on Monday in the presence of Development, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Alternate Development Minister Stavros Kalogiannis, as well as Piraeus Mayor Vassilis Mihaloliakos.
Once complete, the journey from the PFS to Piraeus will take roughly eight minutes and serve an estimated 35,000 passengers each day. The 5.4-kilometre extension will include 12 additional stops and the total budget has been reduced from 91 million euro to 61 million euro, with funding from the EU's National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and the Attica 2007-2013 operational programme.
 Geniki Bank to issue 350-mln-euro convertible bond loanA Geniki Bank extraordinary general shareholders' meeting on Monday approved a board plan to issue a convertible bond loan of up to 350 million euros through a private placement. Under the plan, Geniki Bank' s older shareholders will waive their right to participate in the bond loan.
 Ad spending down 15 pct in 2011Advertising spending fell by 15 pct in 2011 to 1.6 billion euros, as a deep economic recession led businesses to cut their operating expenses, a report by Media Services said on Monday.
The report showed that ad spending in television fell 2.9 pct in 2011, while in radio stations the decline was 29.3 pct, in magazines ad spending fell 22.3 pct and in newspapers it dropped by 17 pct.
In the first half of 2012, advertising spending totaled 586.49 million euros (a decline of 29.6 pct). Mobile telephony operators were the biggest client of the ad business in Greece with a market share of 6.1 pct on advertising spending in 2011 (more than 97 million euros).
The report said that the bankruptcy of Mass Athens at the end of 2011, followed by the closing down of Upset and two other ad companies seeking protection from their creditors (Leo Burnett and Ashley and Holmes) highlighted the sector's problems during the last two years.
Accumulated turnover of the 161 enterprises in the sector totaled 841 million euros in 2011, down 15.5 pct from the previous year, while pre-tax results showed a loss of 19.13 million euros, after profits of 3.10 million euros in 2010.
 Business Briefs-- One in five enterprises in Greece is run by a woman, while 9.0 pct of the most profitable enterprises also have a woman at the helm, a report by ICAP Group showed on Monday.
-- Kalliopi Vernadaki on Monday was appointed new chief executive at Jumbo Group, the company said in a statement.
 Greek stocks end down on profit takingGreek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as investors took profits after the composite index of the market touched the psychologically critical barrier of 1,000 points during the session, for the first time since end-August 2011. Bank shares were at the focus of profit taking selling, while other blue chip stocks, such as Hellenic Petroleum, Motor Oil and Coca Cola Hellenic, offered support.
The index fell 1.17 percent to end at 968.29 points, after rising as much as 1,000.05 points early in the day. Turnover was a strong 88.947 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.52 percent and the Mid Cap index dropped 6.55 percent. The Oil (2.38 percent), Food (1.63 percent) and Telecoms (0.18 percent) sectors scored gains, while Health (8.87 percent), Technology (7.31 percent) and Banks (6.88 percent) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Motor Oil (2.85 percent), Hellenic Petroleum (2.08 percent) and Titan (2.0 percent) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (12.26 percent), Piraeus Bank (9.39 percent) and Ellaktor (8.0 percent) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 125 to 49 with another 22 issues unchanged. Pegasus (20 percent), Eurobrokers (19.78 percent) and SPI (19.4 percent) were top gainers, while Fieratex (22.73 percent), Varvaresos (19.67 percent) and Alsinco (19.67 percent) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.38%
Personal & Household: -2.18%
Raw Materials: -4.93%
Travel & Leisure: -0.47%
Food & Beverages: +1.63%
Financial Services: -5.03%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, OTE, National Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.36
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.41
HBC Coca Cola: 17.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.33
National Bank of Greece: 1.26
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.67
Bank of Piraeus: 0.30
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose to 10.14 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.69 pct and the German Bund 1.55 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.56 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.33 pct, the three-month rate was 0.19 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.07 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 20.067 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,079 contracts worth 8.565 million euros, with 36,137 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 52,362 contracts worth 11.502 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (10,354), followed by Alpha Bank (10,029), Piraeus Bank (7,423), Cyprus Bank (1,931), MIG (4,572), OTE (3,822), PPC (2,805), OPAP (2,273), Eurobank (1,762), Ellaktor (1,270), Intralot (2,277), Mytilineos (777), Hellenic Exchanges (391) and Sidenor (581).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.354
Pound sterling 0.843
Danish kroner 7.574
Swedish kroner 8.747
Japanese yen 120.89
Swiss franc 1.242
Norwegian kroner 7.472
Canadian dollar 1.335
Australian dollar 1.282
 Arrest warrant issued for wife of Alapis executive in relation to Proton Bank bad loans caseAn arrest warrant was issued on Monday for a prominent Greek female lawyer linked to former Proton Bank main shareholder Lavrentis Lavrentiadis and married to an Alapis executive who is also facing charges in the case concerning bad loans made by the bank amounting to 700 million euros. This is the seventh arrest warrant issued in connection with the ongoing investigation.
Sources said the arrest warrant will soon be converted into an international arrest warrant as there are indications that the suspect has fled abroad and was issued after she failed to appear to testify before the magistrate investigating the case when summoned.
The charges against the lawyer include forming and joining a criminal organisation, fraud, legalising income from illegal activities and breach of faith. She was also a non-executive member of Proton Bank's board and a lawyer for several firms owned by Lavrentiadis and Petros Kyriakidis, a third suspect now wanted based on an international arrest warrant.
Witnesses have claimed that the lawyer was the "right hand" of both Kyriakidis and Lavrentiadis, and helped provide legal cover for various illegal activities related to the bad loans of 700 million euros given by Proton Bank to companies controlled by Lavrentiadis.
Four people have so far been remanded in custody in connection with the case, in addition to Lavrentiadis himself, including a well-known professor of economics and former bank executives.
 Terror suspect released pending trial, denies chargesA 29-year-old student arrested as a suspected member of the terror group "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" was released after testifying before an appeals court magistrate on Monday. With the agreement of both the examining magistrate and public prosecutor in charge of the case, he was forbidden to leave the country or to interact with others facing charges in relation to the same terror organisation and asked to report to a police station at regular intervals.
The 29-year-old also faces charges for weapons possession.
The student has denied the charges against him and disputed the findings of DNA tests carried out on genetic material found on the guns hidden on university campus premises. His lawyer claimed the DNA is compatible with at least another eight people and has asked for a new expert inquiry.
The suspect has also claimed health issues and supplied documentation affirming his status as a students but also work stamps showing that he has been working in the past few years.
 Airlift for three-year-old transplant patient to RomeGreek authorities on Monday set up an emergency airlift from Athens to Rome for a three-year-old girl needing a heart transplant at a hospital in Italy's capital.
Following a request from the ambulance service EKAB, Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos ordered that a Greek Air Force military aircraft take off from the airbase at Elefsina to carry the girl to Rome. The cost of the airlift will be covered by EKAB.
 Super League resultAsteras Tripoli beat Kerkyra 1-0 away in a game played for the Super League on Monday evening.
Standings after 17 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 45
2. PAOK 35
3. Asteras 31
4. Atromitos 29
5. Levadiakos 24
6. PAS Yiannina 23
7. Panionios 22
8. Panthrakikos 21
9. Panathinaikos 21
10. OFI 20
11. Platanias 18
12. Xanthi 18
13. Aris 16 14. Veria 16
15. AEK 15
16. Kerkyra 12
NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures between 2C and 18C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens with southerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures between 5C and 17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 4C and 11C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Tax Bureau to impose 'large fines' on professionals and businesses".
ESTIA: "The positive aspects of the tax bill".
ETHNOS: "Additional taxes for 9 of 10 tax payers".
IMERISSIA: "Cosco surprise proposal for OLP (Piraeus Port Authority)
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Heavy penalties against tax evasion on the horizon".
TA NEA: "Double surtax for PPC and private vehicles".
VRADYNI: "The traps of the new tax system".
6 DAYS: "Landmines made in England".
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