|Wednesday, 21 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-03-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 12 March 2013 Issue No: 4308
 PM meets with Cyprus President: Conviction that Hellenism will emerge stronger from crisisGreek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras expressed his conviction that despite the difficulties it is going through, Hellenism will emerge from the crisis stronger and on its own feet, speaking to the press after a meeting in Athens on Monday with newly-elected Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who is on an official visit to Greece.
Samaras also stressed the need for a "common European policy on the exploitation of Greece's and Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and the advancement of this specific issues to their EU partners, given that the two countries' energy reserves are also Europe's energy reserves".
He said:"We discussed Cyprus' EEZ. In the past month major agreements were signed with companies, which reflect the opportunities opening up. Naturally, exploitation of the EEZ is an inalienable right of Cyprus".
On the Cyprus issue, Samaras said that whether the opportunity to promote a solution is exploited following Anastassiades' election will depend on the Turkish Cypriot side. He noted that no one can disregard the fact that Cyprus is a member country of the United Nations and that UN resolutions exist.
Samaras said that Hellenism is being sorely tried but ?will emerge stronger, with an enhanced political and geostrategic role", and predicted that Cyprus' efforts for funding from the European Union will prove fruitful.
Samaras and Anastassiades exchanged views on the economic crisis and this week's upcoming European Council, and noted his desire for coordination of the two governments' actions in the context of the shared views that characterise them.
He further noted that Greece and Cyprus have a "brotherly relationship", adding that no one can overlook the fact that Cyprus is Greece's fourth largest financial partner and that following the crisis in Greece the Cypriot market offered opportunities to many Greeks.
Anastasiades, in turn, thanked Samaras and added that they had a productive and fruitful discussion, which indicates the determination of the two sides for even closer cooperation.
He further conveyed the Cypriot people's gratitude for Greece's timeless support for the salvation of the Cyprus Republic. Through the dialogue, the bonds will continue and will grow stronger, he said, adding Cyprus' determination to take measures that will give strength to the country and enhance the understanding between the two countries.
"Hellenism is going through a crisis, but we've gone through worse and emerged standing tall. The 1974 destruction was converted into a financial miracle. The prospect is ahead of us. The crisis will comprise an opportunity to overcome any negative conditions," the Cyprus President concluded.
 'Cyprus top national priority' President assures newly-elected Cypriot counterpartGreek President Karolos Papoulias assured his newly-elected Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastassiades that the Cyprus issue is the top national priority for Greece, during a meeting in Athens on Monday.
Greeting Anastassiades at the Presidential Mansion, Papoulias congratulated the new Cypriot President on his electoral victory, and assured him that the Cyprus issue "is, for us, a top national priority", adding his conviction that the two countries' efforts and coordination will not only continue but deepen further so that the desired day of the reunification of the island republic, without a single occupation solder remaining on the island, will finally come. "And this will be a great victory for Hellenism, because the battle being waged by the Cypriot people is also a battle f Hellenism," Papoulias said.
Anastassiades, speaking "as the President of the Republic of Cyprus and as the leader of the Greek Cypriot community", said: "I wish to convey the gratitude of the Cypriot Hellenism for the timeless support of Greece", adding that he looks forward, through a peaceful dialogue, to a differentiation in the Turkish stance so that a solution that guarantees the human rights of all the (island's) inhabitants without exception and one that will rid Cyprus of the occupation will be attained, in a peaceful manner".
Anastassiades said he believes that Cyprus will have the support, "apart from Greece, which is given", of the European Union as well. "We are a full member, naturally thanks to the impeccable cooperation with Greece and the great contribution we had then, from the Greek political leadership and the Hellenic Parliament".
"We are now a member, we are obliged to apply the human rights and the European directives," he added.
The new Cyprus Presi8dent also addressed a message to Turkey that it is obliged to honor and observe all the commitments and obligations it has undertaken towards all the European states. "Consequently I cannot image who it would be possible for a solution to be found without it being founded on the fundamental principles, values, the human rights, as they are set out and protected in the rest of Europe," he said.
 Cyprus President meets Greek Parliament presidentCyprus Republic President Nicos Anastasiades, in Athens on an official visit and talks with Greece's state and political leadership, on Monday met Greek Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis. During the meeting, Anastasiades expressed the deep gratitude of Greek Cypriots for all that Greece has offered, both in protecting the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus and in its crucial efforts to join the European Union.
"At this time we are facing a series of problems. Unfortunately, the economic crisis has reached a point where it supersedes tackling our national issue and this because, without economic robustness, some might perhaps consider that we are vulnerable in terms of its management," Anastasiades said.
He expressed his certainty that through close cooperation between their respective Parliaments, as well as between their two governments, Greece and Cyprus will be able to overcome the difficulties and regain their lost dignity and pride.
Anastasiades said he looked forward to this continued cooperation "with you, as with all the political forces" in Greece. This was something that signalled a new era, he added, "marked by mutual respect, close cooperation, well-prepared actions so that we can see how, coming forth and dealing with the crisis initially, we will be able to tackle our major national issues, which is none other than the invasion and continued occupation."
Meimarakis assured the Cypriot president of the Greek Parliament's desire for cooperation, saying that he was ready to discuss and act together with the Cypriot side to find solutions via the United Nations.
Commenting on the economic crisis, Meimarakis said that this would not be affect the stance adopted by either Greece or Cyprus on issues of foreign policy or their stance in efforts to find a solution as this was defined by the Greek side and in UN resolutions.
Referring to Turkey's stance, the Parliament president said that "we are faced with a difficult neighbour, who shows his attitude and his refusal to contribute creatively and positively".
 Tsipras meeting with Cyprus President AnastasiadesGreece and Cyprus' fiscal problems were the focus of a meeting on Monday evening between main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras and visiting Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.
Tsipras, a SYRIZA announcement said, expressed his wish "that the Republic of Cyprus does not end up - like Greece - in accepting to implement an austerity program that will keep debt at unsustainable levels and will force society into poverty and misery, with the people being required to pay for debts that are not responsible for."
Tsipras added he wished "a viable solution to the Cyprus issue will not be jeopardised by the country's current fiscal troubles."
 PASOK party leader says Cyprus must be supported economicallyPASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, speaking after his meeting with visiting Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, said that "in the case of the economic problem of Cyprus and of the adjustment programme of Cyprus the relation between fiscal sovereignty and national sovereignty becomes noticeable much more intensely".
Venizelos said that Cyprus "must be supported economically, to recover fiscally" because, as he said, "the existence of the Republic of Cyprus is our first national priority".
Venizelos added that this was also the main topic of the discussion he had with Anastasiades.
"We are watching the issues, we are ready to help practically, because a solution must be found that will also allow Cyprus to breathe economically and allow us on the national issue to remain unyielding and steadfast on what constitute our national strategy and are also decisions of the UN Security Council".
 Independent Greeks party leader holds meeting with Cyprus President AnastasiadesIndependent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos held a meeting with visiting Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday afternoon, focusing on issues concerning the economic crisis Greece and Cyprus are experiencing.
Kammenos said after the meeting that he wished him "to resist in the face of the effort of Mrs. (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel to subdue the European peoples and include Cyprus in the memorandum as well".
Kammenos also said that the effort to include Cyprus in the memorandum and in a new 'Anan plan', that will be disastrous and the crime will then be a national one, cannot be combined in any way".
Lastly, possibilities of cooperation with countries apart from the creditors were also discussed.
 PM: 2013 will be a turning point for GreeceThe year 2013 will be a turning point for Greece, when it will get past the worst of the recession and start its recovery, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said as he launched a B2B networking event that began in Athens on Monday. The Greek prime minister appeared confident that "Greece will make it" and repeated promises that there will be no new austerity measures.
Delivering the opening address at the event "Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth: Promoting Business Partnerships in Greece" taking place at the Demokritos National Centre for Scientific Research, Samaras also backed the adoption of a 15 pct uniform tax for all enterprises.
He stressed that Greece, despite the difficult times it was going through, was favourable for the growth of businesses and that the road leading to an exit from the crisis passed through business and enterprise.
"There will be no more austerity measures. Now is the time to continue the course for an exit from the crisis, to accelerate structural changes, modernise the public sector and stamp out bureaucracy," he said. The key issue, he added, was for Greece to remain "anchored" within the sphere of credibility.
The prime minister identified the problems with liquidity and the need to boost business enterprise as the main issues for Greece, noting that the recapitalisation of the banks will ensure their viability.
"With rising confidence, the flow of deposits returning to banks is growing, while liquidity is also increased as the state gradually pays off its debts to private citizens," Samaras said.
The prime minister went on to announce the launch of a programme providing guarantees that, through recycling, will amount to 1.5 billion euros and be able to support export activities, as well as a programme of letters of guarantee that is due to be implemented.
In presenting the government's actions to boost liquidity and entrepreneurship, Samaras emphasised the vital role that private initiative and free competition, rid of the 'protectionist' attitudes of the past, will play in this effort.
He particularly emphasised the importance of new investment legislation, saying that this will foster innovative ideas and initiatives that will change the climate, and stressed the need for a 'contract' between the state and people that wanted to create. Among others, the prime minister announced that the government was preparing 25 measures to simplify exports, while simultaneously abolishing a series of obstacles that created problems, stressing that the new law will "strike at bureaucracy and bring investments".
On the issue of taxation, Samaras noted the need for a simpler system with tougher penalties for transgressors, which made use of technology and offered lower taxation rates in order to provide incentives.
"The priority is to stabilise high budget surpluses and, as we make the taxation system reliable, to be able to lower the rates," the prime minister underlined, saying that he was deliberately making this statement at a time when the EC-ECB-IMF troika was in Athens and "we are living hours of upheaval" in order to send a message to the representatives of Greece's creditors.
Over 500 Greek and foreign businesses have registered for the event that will also be addressed by Antonio Tajani, European Commission vice-president and Industry & Entrepreneurship Commissioner, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and Rural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris.
 KKE on PM's addressThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a statement on Monday commented negatively on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's address at the event "Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth: Promoting Business Partnerships in Greece".
"The prime minister's new praises in favour of entrepreneurship are attempting to conceal that this policy currently demands even cheaper working people, with the abolition of collective labour agreements, permanent insecurity and unemployment for the young people, provocative tax exemptions and incentives for the big businessmen that the working class families will pay again. These are the supposed 'innovative' ideas that the Strategic 'Europe 2020' also anticipates," the statement said.
KKE added that "there can be no negotiating in the interest of the people, that the government, (the main opposition) SYRIZA and the other parties of the 'euro-oneway path' promise, within the walls of the EU and the economy that serves the needs of capital".
 PM Samaras holds telephone conversation with Democratic Left party leaderPrime Minister Antonis Samaras held a telephone conversation on Monday afternoon with Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis.
According to reports by AMNA, the two men discussed all the crucial issues the government is negotiating with the troika in light of the prime minister's meeting with representatives of the creditors on Tuesday.
According to the same reports, Kouvelis insisted and explained to the prime minister, at whose initiative the telephone conversation took place, the disagreement of the Democratic Left on the extension of the payment of the special real estate tax (EETHDE), through the Public Power Corporation (DEH), and stressed that an increase in instalments for overdue debts is necessary, as well as the observance and implementation of the mobility plan on the public sector's restructuring, as Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis has planned.
 Venizelos: Societies can't bear more burdens, we must take advantage of thisPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Monday said that the government should remain adamant in its positions regarding the issues it is discussing with the EC, ECB, IMF troika, speaking to Real FM private radio.
He also said that the three parties that comprise the coalition government must agree on specific handlings in order to finish with unemployment, the relief of overindebted households and the initiatives in the real economy.
Venizelos noted that during his meeting with the lenders' representatives, the troika appeared more subdued. "All of them, they and their chiefs, can see what is happening," said Venizelos and referred to the Italian elections as well as the fact that "the societies can't bear anything else. This is something new and we must take advantage of it".
The PASOK leader said that the troika has understood that there is no room for additional measures and that the society, the government and the real economy can't bear them.
Also, Venizelos said that it is the troika's huge mistake not to allow the arrangement of debts to the Tax Bureau and the social security funds, from which there would be an inflow of revenues, adding that the banks should not be phobic to an arrangement for overindebted households. He said that a draft law tabled by his party to parliament foresees a better way to deal with the issue.
On the possibility of reduction of the VAT rate in the restaurant sector, Venizelos said that when you cut revenues from one source then you must find them from another source, but explained that the reduction in VAT revenues would be counterbalanced by the increased turnover that will result in restaurant businesses.
Venizelos ruled out the possibility of additional taxes on real estate properties adding that we will not proceed with auctions and foreclosures because this is a 'barbarous attitude'.
 Coalition partner DIM.AR opposes extending property surtaxThe Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party, the smallest member of Greece's coalition government, on Monday issued an announcement expressing strong opposition to rumoured plans to extend an emergency property surtax levied through electricity bills. According to press reports, the EC-ECB-IMF troika is pushing to extend this tax for another year.
DIM.AR stressed that a planned Uniform Real Estate Tax would generate the same result, be fairer and generate more tax revenue. At the same time, it will also expand the tax base, so that all real estate ownership is taxed, and lower the tax burden for 80 percent of the populations, introducing measures to protect the unemployed.
In its announcement, DIM.AR stressed that it cannot accept an extension of an unfair tax levied in the name of questionable efficiency.
"The government's promise for a gradual correction of injustices must be implemented," the announcement said.
 Gov't spokesman: No mention of word 'layoffs' at TroikaGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said Monday that the negotiation was continuing with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders over the extraordinary real estate surtax that is collected via PPC electricity bills, but that no mention of the word "layoffs" was made during the Troika's meeting at the finance ministry.
"As concerns the surtax, the deliberation is continuing. It is also a matter of preparing the system for the uniform tax (on real estate holdings)," Kedikoglou said Monday morning on private VIMA radio station, replying to speculation that the Troika is asking for the surtax to continue being collected via electricity bills in 2013.
With respect to the public sector and the civil servants in breach of their duties, Kedikoglou said: "We are dealing with chronic weaknesses and an inherent reaction to change. One example: For 2 1/2 months I have asked for the exit of the employees in breach of duty from ERT (national television) but nothing has happened. The relevant council has not yet been convened, despite the fact that ERT is not facing cases with judicial parameters as other services are facing, in which case an issue of the relevant director exists. If I am not mistaken, we are speaking about 13 employees. But the matter is not progressing...Daily effort and persistence is necessary to change the system, and rest assured that we will do it," Kedikoglou said.
However, regarding layoffs of civil servants, Kedikoglou stressed that the word 'layoffs' was not voiced at all during the Troika's meeting at the finance ministry. He said that the civil servants' mobility plan, combined with the number of retirements, which is "very big" --given that in the last two years "many more have left on retirement -- will lead to a much more functional and efficient public sector, Kedikoglou said.
Asked on the prospect of a government reshuffle, Kedikoglou said that "we have other, urgent priorities..let's stay at that...It is at the Prime Minister's discretion to decide when and how such moves will be made".
 Troika nearing agreement with Greek ministersAn agreement between the finance ministry and the EC-ECB-IMF troika over an arrangement to provide relief to over-indebted households and settle overdue debts to social security funds seems to be in its final stage, according to finance ministry sources.
A Development ministry official who attended a meeting on Monday evening at the Finance Ministry said that "the troika is taking a step backwards toward our positions as far as an arrangement for indebted households' loans is concerned. There will be a new meeting tomorrow with the troika experts."
A Labour Ministry source added that there was "no pending issue with our ministry. There is no final agreement yet, but we are on the way to achieving a settlement."
The same official said that the ministry was "pleased with the positive response to a realistic and viable proposal," made by the Labour ministry with regard to debts owed to social security funds.
"Our target is to arrive at a final agreement tomorrow," during a fresh meeting with the troika experts, the same official said.
Interior minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Labour minister Yiannis Vroutsis left the meeting, which continued late Monday evening between the troika and the government's financial staff.
 Meeting with troika heads begins at Finance ministryA broad ministerial meeting with the the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders, began at the Finance ministry on Monday evening, focusing on resolving pending issues in negotiations between the two sides.
A senior Greek Finance ministry official said shortly before the meeting that "we want to close as many issues as we can. It is necessary that we make a good preparation for tomorrow's (Tuesday) meeting with the prime minister".
Participating in the meeting are Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras, Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis and other government officials.
 Troika negotiations with Administrative Reform ministry to continue"Negotiations with the (EC-ECB-IMF) troika continues," sources from the Administrative Reform ministry said on Monday, commenting on the talks between the minister, Antonis Manitakis and representatives of Greece's international lenders, focusing on a plan relating to suspension and mobility of public servants.
Manitakis, the sources said, has delivered to the troika a public service reform plan, but some technical issues remain open.
The leadership of the ministry has engaged in a race to overcome troika's objections to include 25,000 public servants initially under a suspension plan and thereafter to a mobility scheme, which is among the terms of the loan agreement signed by Greece.
 Kahn: Conditions in Greece significantly improvingVIENNA (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Conditions in Greece are greatly improving and there is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel, Austrian EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, told the AMNA in an exclusive interview, in which he referred to his positive impressions gained during a recent visit to Greece.
Hahn suggested that "in Greece, starting from the government, there is a push, things evolve, and - despite the fact that much remains to be done - the situation is improving, even though this is not felt by everyone, and the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming more and more real and it definitely is."
The commissioner said he has been asked by serious foreign investors to provide information on Greece, as many of such entrepreneurs are keen in investing in the country, especially in the tourism and food production sectors.
Kahn also noted that in response to the interest shown by foreign investors in Greece, the government ought to create the proper conditions that will allow for easier and more attractive access for such investors to the country.
 Third resignation over PPC chargesSecretary General for Industry at the Development Ministry Spyros Efstathopoulos on Monday tendered his resignation over the case of charges against former Public Power Corporation (PPC) board members of alleged mismanagement in 2007, and will be replaced by up-to-now secretary general for consumers George Stergiou.
This is the third resignation in the case in just three days, as finance ministry general secretary Georgios Mergos and Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund (HRADF) President Takis Athanassopoulos, both of whom face charges in connection with a case of alleged mismanagement involving the former board of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) in 2007, tendered their resignations on Saturday.
The charges concern a contract signed with METKA for the construction of a PPC plant in Aliveri and a natural gas pipeline needed to operate the plant. Based on the public prosecutor's findings, the PPC board had been aware at the time of signing that there were problems with obtaining a licence for the natgas pipeline and that the work could not be completed on time, leading to losses in revenue, premature payment and additional borrowing costs.
Mergos and Athanassopoulos were both members of the PC board of directors at the time the PPC contract with METKA was signed for the Aliveri project.
Efstathopoulos, a New Democracy (ND) party official, served in several government positions in the period 2004-2009 and was secretary general for industry at the development ministry up until his resignation. He joined the PPC board of directors in June 2007, just a month before the signing of the disputed contract with METKA.
An Athens public prosecutor on Friday slapped criminal charges, aggravated by laws for those found guilty of public-sector embezzlement, on the entire former board of the PPC and the heads of the company METKA over an agreement signed in 2007, through which PPC allegedly incurred damages amounting to 100 million euros.
 SYRIZA-EKM MP Manolis Glezos hospitalizedVeteran leftist politician and main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM) MP Manolis Glezos has been hospitalized with a respiratory tract infection, his party announced on Monday. He underwent medical tests to determine the exact causes of the illness
As a result of his health condition, Glezos was unable to attend an event in Athens' Nikea district on Sunday.
 Development Minister Hatzidakis: 'Greece becoming country of investment opportunities'Greece got the highest ranking of 8.2 - on a 0-10 scale - among 20 European countries, in the Euro Plus Monitor produced by the Lisbon Council and Berenberg Bank to track adjustment progress in the Eurozone, as well as Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said on Monday.
"Greece remains the best-performing country among eurozone members and three more, on the adoption of measures to handle public debts, on extroversion, labour cost and reforms," Hatzidakis said, addressing the B2B networking event at the Demokritos National Centre for Scientific Research in Aghia Paraskevi, Athens.
He noted that Greece ranks first on fiscal adjustment and structural reforms, where it received a perfect score (10 out of 10), according to OECD figures. As regards external adjustment, the country's recent performance was very good, ranking fifth.
"This new report is a confirmation that we are on the right track. But above all, it sends a message to investors that Greece is becoming a country of investment opportunities, despite the fact that there is still a lot to be done, not as far as austerity measures are concerned, but in the structural reform front," he underlined.
He noted that a development ministry-sponsored draft law deregulating road passenger transport will be unveiled before the end of the month, while a new legislative framework on market operation will be passed soon, modeled after European standards. He said regulations are being prepared in collaboration with the OECD to support exports, adding that funding programmes are being implemented through the Hellenic Fund for Entrepreneurship and Development (ETEAN
S.A.) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), also noting government efforts for the establishment of an investment fund.
He underlined that "the situation in Greece and the eurozone, particularly in the south, is undoubtedly crucial. Figures on employment and economic growth are still alarming. Citizens and enterprises alike have reached their limits. On a European level, we have to combine the existing fiscal adjustment measures with new policies that will boost cash flow and social cohesion."
Addressing the same event, Central Union of Chambers of Commerce (KEE) and Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) president Konstantinos Mihalos noted that the recapitalisation of the banking system, even though absolutely essential, is not enough to ensure that market liquidity will be restored.
Mihalos added that "the resources channeled to the banks are destined - and are adequate - to make up for the lost capital, mostly as a result of the exchange of state bonds."
"To solve the problem," he said, "bank deposits will have to return to the domestic banking system as soon as possible, while their exclusion from international markets will have to be lifted."
 Greek banks' recapitalization plan must be completed by June, Commisisoner saysA recapitalization of the Greek banking sector must be completed by June, Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship said here on Monday.
Addressing the B2B networking event Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth: Promoting Business Partnerships in Greece organized by the European Commisison and the Secretariat General for Industry in Athens, the EU Commissioner noted that without economic growth it was impossible to win over a crisis.
"We need real economic, more internal market, industry, we need more SMEs," Tajani said, adding that Greek citizens have done many sacrifices which could become useless unless "we combine the Ecofin with a competitiveness council with the aim of adopting decisions with micro-economy". The Italian EC vice-president ended his speech with the phrase "We are all Greeks".
 Greece reports primary budget surplus of 463 mln euros in Jan-FebThe Greek government on Monday reported a primary budget surplus of 463 million euros in the January-February period this year, after a surplus of 368 million euros in the corresponding period in 2012 and a budget provision for a deficit of 1.353 billion euros.
The state budget recorded a deficit of 813 million euros in the two-month period, after a shortfall of 495 million euros last year and a budget provision for a deficit of 2.630 billion euros, Finance Alternate Minister Christos Staikouras said on Monday.
Net budget revenues totaled 8.610 billion euros in the January-February period, up 665 million euros from a budget target (7.945 billion), while net regular budget revenues totaled 7.726 billion euros, up 2.8 pct from a budget target.
The minister said that VAT proceeds fell short of budget targets by 8.1 pct, other consumption tax proceeds were 33.2 pct lower than expected, car registration duties fell 57.9 pct and energy tax proceeds fell short by 3.9 pct. On the other hand, income tax proceeds exceeded budget expectations by 18.7 pct and property tax proceeds were 33.1 pct higher than anticipated.
Public Investment Programe's revenues totaled 884 million euros in the two-month period, up 454 million euros from budget targets helped by increased capital flows from the EU. Budget spending totaled 9.422 billion euros, down from a budget target of 10.575 billion. Regular budget spending were 832 million euros lower from a budget target, or 3.4 pct down from the same period in 2012. Spending on interest rose by 413 million euros in the January-February period.
Commenting on the data, Staikouras said provisional figures showed that Greece continued successfully its necessary fiscal consolidation course, adding that constant attention was needed to evaluating policies and intensifying efforts to achieve all goals.
 Greek GDP shrank 6.4 pct in 2012The Greek economy shrank by 6.4 pct in 2012, after a 5.7 pct drop in the country's Gross Domestic Product in the fourth quarter, following declines of 6.7 pct in the first quarter, 6.4 pct in the second and 6.7 pct in the third quarter of the year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
In current prices, the country's GDP was 47.267 billion euros in the fourth quarter, falling to levels last seen in the second quarter of 2005. The government forecasts an economic recession of 4.5 pct this year.
The statistics service, in a report, said that fourth quarter data were slightly better than initial forecasts (5.7 pct from 6.0 pct) and said that the new falling in the country's GDP reflected both a big fall in private investments and a shrinking consumption. Private investments fell by 10.3 pct in the October-December period, while households' consumption spending fell by 9.6 pct (the general government's consumption spending fell by 5.8 pct).
On the other hand, the country's trade deficit shrank by 17.5 pct, with exports falling by 4.8p ct and imports falling by 8.1 pct in the fourth quarter of 2012. Exports of goods rose 2.7 pct and exports of services fell 13.9 pct, while imports of goods fell 8.5 pct and imports of services eased 6.3 pct.
 Greek gov't cash balance shows a deficit of 1.388 bln euros in Jan-FebThe Greek central government' s cash balance showed a deficit of 1.388 billion euros in the first two months of 2013, compared with a surplus of 647 million euros in the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that ordinary budget revenue amounted to 7.483 billion euros, down from 8.198 billion euros in the same period last year. Ordinary budget expenditure amounted to 9.309 billion euros from 8.380 billion euros in January-February 2012, the central bank said.
 Development of privatisations projects within targetsIoannis Emiris, managing director of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund-HRADF, rejecting reports on Monday referring to delays in the privatisations programme, said that "there are no failures in the privatisations programme's development. The delays have been decreased to a minimum and the development of the projects is within targets".
Emiris added that "the change of the president of HRADF does not affect the procedure, since the immediate coverage of the post has been scheduled by Mr. Stelios Stavridis. Moreover, we published the invitation today on the showing of interest for the sale and renting of 28 public buildings. Consequently, comments referring to the blocking of projects lack a logical basis".
Stelios Stavridis, chairman and chief executive of Athens Water, is to replace Takis Athanasopoulos as president of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund. His appointment needs ratification by Parliament.
 HRADF launches sale&lease back of 28 public buildingsThe Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) on Monday launched an invitation to submit the expression of interest for a sale and lease back tender of 28 public buildings, including the building of the police headquarters in Athens, several police stations, the building of Hellenic Statistical Authority, government ministries and tax agencies.
The transaction covering the 28 real estate property assets will be made in two portfolios of similar size. The investors which will be chosen will buy the buildings and sign long-term leasing contracts with the Greek state, with the Greek state having the option of buying the buildings at the end of the contract.
Under the first phase of the process, interested parties will have to submit their interest in writing by April 19 and prove they fulfill the criteria set in the invitation. The state phase of the process will include submission of binding offers.
Stelios Stavridis, chairman and chief executive of Athens Water, will replace Takis Athanasopoulos as president of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund. His appointment needs ratification by Parliament.
The Finance ministry, in a statement also said that Antonis Vartholomeos, a member of Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund' board was proposed to replace Stelios Stavridis as chairman and chief executive of Athens Water. His place in HRADF board will be covered by George Koutsoudakis, a member of an experts' council of the fund.
The properties in the sale and lease back programme are:
General government agencies, Piraeus
Secretariat General of Information Systems, Moschato
Thessaloniki Police Headquarters, Thessaloniki
Hellenic Police Forensic Science Division, Athens
Hellenic Statistical Authority, Piraeus
Secretariat General of Mass Media, Kallithea
Ministry of Adm. Reform & E-Governance, Athens
Ministry of Culture, Athens
General government agencies, Thessaloniki
Alexandroupoli Tax Office, Alexandroupoli
Agioi Anargyroi Tax Office, Agioi Anargroi
Pallini Tax Office, Pallini
Glyfada Tax Office, Glyfada
Kifissia Tax Office, Kifissia
Athens Police Headquarters, Athens
Ministry of Education, Maroussi
General government agencies, Maroussi
Immigration Attica, Athens
Ministry of Justice, Athens
Gen. Chemical State Laboratory, Athens
Xanthi Tax Office and Chemistry, Xanthi
Athens A Tax Office, Athens
Athens IZ Tax Office, Athens
Korinthos B Tax Office, Korinthos
Halkida B Tax Office, Halkida
Serres Police Headquarters, Serres
Athens Tax Office, Athens
Holargos Tax Office, Holargos
 Labour ministry suspends 18,228 pensions with unidentifiable recipientsThe labour ministry on Monday announced the temporary suspension of 18,228 pensions whose recipients, in a recent census, could not be identified since they had neither a social security number (AMKA) nor a tax identification number (AFM) in the electronic governance social insurance system IDIKA.
"The findings are, unfortunately, very big and significant and prove the extent of the lawlessness, either through omissions or deliberately, that has existed for years," said Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, who had earlier ordered these pensions suspended. In comments on the results of the census, he described the effort underway at the ministry to set the social insurance system in order as "titanic".
He stressed that the ministry, in dealing with the problems, "will hold those responsible to immediate account, whatever their background," and that the legislation soon to be tabled in Parliament would make this clear to everyone.
Even though the suspended pensions represent only 0.4 percent of the total 4,412,797 pensions paid out each month in Greece, ministry officials expressed grave concern that they managed to "slip through the net" during previous censuses of pensioners. They have not ruled out the existence of organised rings operating within the social insurance system itself.
The largest discrepancies were found in the larger social insurance funds - such as IKA, the civil servants' fund and the farmers' fund OGA - but were these were not absent in smaller funds as well.
For example, 8,577 pensions to unidentifiable recipients were paid out by IKA, 3,266 by the civil servants' fund out of a total of 446,930, and 2,874 by the farmers' fund in a total of 745,629 pensioners.
 Shipping minister attends delivery ceremony of two tankersShipping Minister Kostis Mousouroulis attended a ceremony on the delivery and reception of two Dynamic Positioning Shuttle Tankers (D.P. Shuttle Tankers), at South Korea's Sungdong shipyards on Monday, at the invitation of Tsakos maritime company.
The two vessels hoisted the Greek flag and will have Greek crew.
"By the simpler procedures presented a few days ago to attract ships to the Greek register, we are sending a strong message of support to the Greek merchant fleet and the Greek flag. Today's event just shows that the message has recipients and fills us with optimism. We shall keep up our efforts in this direction with the aim of invigorating the national economy and the creation of new jobs," the minister said.
The Shipping ministry recently presented the new plan on the national register's modernisation, with the use of new IT solutions and reduction in the signatures time required until now for the issue of a ratifying registering act.
 Japanese interest in tourism investments in GreeceJapan's interest in Greece as a destination of tourism investments, was confirmed during a meeting between the president of the Committee on Europe and Tourism of Japan's Industries Federation, Shinichi Yokoyama with Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni who is on an official visit to Japan.
During the meeting, Kefaloyianni referred to the government's reform efforts, underlining the improvement evident in many economic indexes.
Presenting Greece's national plan on tourism, she stressed the important role that tourism plays in the country's economic recovery.
 "New TT Hellenic Postbank S.A." board announcedThe managing board of the "New TT Hellenic Postbank S.A." was announced on Monday by its sole shareholder, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF).
Georgios Kontos is the New Hellenic Postbank president
Haralambos Siganos is the vice-president and CEO (executive member) and Dimitrios Vlahos is deputy CEO (executive member). Board members are Georgios Xifaras (executive member), Evangelos Athanassiou and Dorotheos Samoladas, both independent non executive members and Ioannis Filos independent non executive member.
 Hellenic Petroleum subsidiary wins tender in TAP projectAsprofos, a subsidiary of Hellenic Petroleum Group, won an international tender to offer engineering consultancy services to the basic design of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project in the section from Kipi, Evros, to Thessaloniki, with a total length of 400 km.
E.ON New Build & Technology GmbH is the designer of the land pipeline project. The contract with Asprofos will have a duration of one year. The company will employ 25 engineers. Asprofos will take over licensing procedures and the drafting all technical surveys of the Greek part of the pipeline.
 TITAN not considering moving its HQ abroadTITAN cement group in an announcement on Monday clarified that is not considering moving its headquarters abroad from Greece.
In a terse announcement, the cement group underlined that "Regarding recent publications in newspapers and electronic media, TITAN group reiterates that is not in its intentions to move its HQ abroad".
On Sunday in an article in Die Welt's Sunday edition, the cement group's managing director Dimitrios Papalexopoulos said that TITAN is examining the possibility of moving its headquarters abroad as one of future options the company has to deal with the current crisis that has reduced demand to 1960s levels.
Papalexopoulos was quoted by Die Welt's Sunday edition as saying, "We are a company with a 110-year history in Greece, and this tradition brings great responsibility. But nobody knows whether the situation will stabilise in the long term or whether the crisis has indeed passed. That is why we must be ready for every alternative."
 Turnover in hotel/restaurant/transport sector down in Q4Greece's turnover index in the hotel and restaurant sector dropped 21.6 pct in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday. The statistics service, in a report, said the index was down 70.9 pct in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, after a 67.2 pct drop recorded in the same period in 2011.
The statistics service also said that the turnover index in the transport sector fell 4.6 pct in the fourth quarter of 2012 after a 3.5 pct decline recorded in the same period in 2011. The index was down 5.9 pct in the October-December period compared with the previous quarter of 2012. The air transport turnover index rose 9.3 pct in the fourth quarter, while the turnover index in the logistics sector fell 1.2 pct.
 Business Briefs-- Hellenic Exchanges SA on Monday said its net after tax profits totaled 11.8 million euros in 2012, down 45.2 pct from the previous year.
 Greek stocks end sharply lowerGreek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market to new lows and minimizing its gains from the start of 2013 to 2.4 pct. The index fell 2.38 pct to end at 929.69 points, off the day's lows of 927.56 points. Turnover remained a disappointing low 42.236 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 2.19 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.12 pct lower. The Commerce (2.69 pct) and Banks (0.58 pct) sectors moved higher, while Raw Materials (6.0 pct), Financial Services (5.28 pct) and Industrial Products (4.46 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
National Bank (3.25 pct), Folli Follie (2.69 pct) and Alpha Bank (0.69 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while MIG (6.99 pct), Ellaktor (6.90 pct), Viohalco (6.48 pct) and Intralot (5.96 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 107 to 47 with another 16 issues unchanged. Mathios (28.1 pct), Tzirakian (25 pct) and Dias Fish Farms (19.74 pct) were top gainers, while Ideal (28.81 pct), Kathimerini (19.97 pct) and Levenderis (15.62 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.26%
Personal & Household: -3.60%
Raw Materials: -6.00%
Travel & Leisure: -2.23%
Food & Beverages: -2.39%
Financial Services: -5.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, National Bank, HBC Coca Cola and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.87
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.45
HBC Coca Cola: 20.02
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.81
National Bank of Greece: 0.83
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.32
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 9.19 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 9.33 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.68 pct and the German Bund 1.49 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were almost unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.54 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.43 pct, the six-month rate was 0.32 pct, the three-month rate was 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.50 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 42.297 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 18,723 contracts worth 28.757 million euros, with 30,061 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 79,882 contracts worth 13.540 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Cyprus Bank's contracts (16,513), followed by National Bank (15,714), Alpha Bank (7,955), Piraeus Bank (7,855), MIG (7,031), OTE (3,336), PPC (1,319), OPAP (3,488), Cyprus Popular Bank (2,134), Ellaktor (2,532), Folli Follie (1,656), Intralot (1,158), Sidenor (435), Hellenic Petroleum (269) and Mytilineos (1,070).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.318
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.568
Swedish kroner 8.450
Japanese yen 126.78
Swiss franc 1.254
Norwegian kroner 7.550
Canadian dollar 1.355
Australian dollar 1.289
 Ways to exploit precious polyphenols from olive treatment waste being soughtA 'treasure' found in the waste arising from the processing of olives and production of olive oil is being sought by scientists in Greece and other Mediterranean countries, who are trying to isolate precious polyphenols, a substance with drastic preventive action against several type of cancer and chronic illnesses, strong anti-oxidant properties and a preventive action to the development of certain micro-organisms and plants.
Today, synthetic polyphenols are used widely as food additives but have been found to cause side-effects, which has turned the food industry to natural polyphenols, the price of which could reach 3,000 euro per kilo, depending on the quality.
Given the high phytotoxicity of the waste remaining after processing at oil press facilities, which are usually dumped in ravines, gullies and isolated areas, the scientific interest gives potential for the maximum possible exploitation of the precious components of the waste from olive processing and minimizing the environmental impact.
In that direction, the ongoing collaboration between the Institute of Chemical Reactions and Energy Resources (IDEP) of the National Centre for Research and Technological Development (EKEETA) with table olive processing companies, has been enhanced with a collaboration with companies involved in the energy exploitation of biomass and waste, and olive kernel oil production, aiming at an integrated management of olive press waste.
Using innovative methods, IDEP is seeking to extract the very useful polyphenols from the waste and produce components that may be added to animal feed (due to their high content in fat and oily substances), and even use residue from olive oil, biomass for burning, and clean water for irrigation, IDEP Natural Resources and Alternate Forms of Energy Laboratory (EFEM) director Prof. Anastasios Karambelas told AMNA.
He further said that under this integrated planning, no burden on the environment will arise from the waste, even from the non-exploitable biomass that will remain after burning, while the energy produced will be used to power the olive processing units themselves.
The ultimate target is to generate commercially exploitable products with great value on the market but with minimum environmental impact, thus solving a long-standing problem of the waste.
Laboratory testing has already managed to concentrate polyphenols into a commercial form, while the next step will be to use the result in a pilot unit.
 Five of seven fugitives from Feres jail arrestedFive of seven fugitives that broke out on Sunday from Feres jail in Evros were recaptured on Monday following an organised police operation.
Three of them, an Algerian, an Iraqi and an Egyptian, swam across Evros River and were arrested by the Turkish authorities on the opposite shore, while the other two who were hiding in the area of Poros were located by local police
The escape was discovered during a roll-call on Sunday morning, where seven inmates were found to be missing. A subsequent search revealed that bars had been cut, possibly using files, in a corridor leading to the exercise yard. From there, the missing inmates are presumed to have climbed over the wall and escaped.
Trade unionists for the police force have noted that the Feres jails are not a permanent prison facility but designed for the temporary holding and transfer of inmates, who should be serving their sentences at the Komotini prison. They also stressed that the police force has never officially accepted delivery of the specific facility.
Seven police officers serving in Feres jail were suspended
The fugitives face charges for criminal offences such as drug-dealing and migrant trafficking. The master-mind of the prison break is believed to be a Turkish drug dealer, one of the two escapees still at large.
 Super League resultPanionios Athens beat Atromitos Athens 1-0 at home in a game played for the Super League on Monday evening.
Standings after 25 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 66
2. Asteras 50
3. PAOK 49
4. Atromitos 41
5. Panathinaikos 35
6. PAS Yiannina 35
7. Xanthi 31
8. Panionios 31
9. Levadiakos 29
10. Platanias 27
11. OFI 27
12. Veria 27
13. Panthrakikos 26
14. AEK 26
15. Aris 25
16. Kerkyra 20
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 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 7C and 21C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens with westerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 10C and 19C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 8C and 18C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: "Retired military officers: Caged animals".
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "OPAP (Greek football prognostics, numerical lottery and sports betting games operator) privatisation a hot potato".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Two heavy signatures for major contracts by former PPC senior executives facing penal charges".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pension at the age of 55 for 300,000 laborers".
ESTIA: "A Political moratorium is mandatory".
ETHNOS: "Who give asylum to civil servants who have breached their duty".
IMERISSIA: "Five-front battle".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Privatisations bomb in government's talks with the troika (EC, ECB, IMF)".
VRADYNI: "The traps in the income tax statement forms".
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