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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-04-10

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

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

Wednesday, 10 April 2013 Issue No: 4331

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't to meet with troika again on Wednesday
  • [02] Manitakis leaves meeting with troika; states 'no problem in our relations'
  • [03] Troika did not demand civil servants' layoffs, Manitakis associates say
  • [04] Finance Ministry issues clarification on National Bank-Eurobank merger
  • [05] Energy issues dominated meeting with troika, environment ministry sources say
  • [06] PASOK leader says public administration issues the big 'thorn' after meeting with Troika
  • [07] Coalition government is cornered by troika, SYRIZA says
  • [08] Figures on the course of abolition or mergers of organizations to be presented by April 20
  • [09] Dep. FM: Greece aiming for export-driven, open economy within euro
  • [10] FinMin briefs EU member-state envoys
  • [11] Foreign minister forwards GAO report on war reparations files to State's Legal Council
  • [12] President Papoulias receives AHEPA delegation
  • [13] Foreign Minister Avramopoulos meets with AHEPA delegation
  • [14] PASOK's Venizelos met with EEA board members
  • [15] KKE strongly criticises government policy on illegal migration
  • [16] KKE party on civil employees' layoffs
  • [17] KKE 19th Congress opens Thursday
  • [18] Tax administration will remain in public sector, tax office staff assured
  • [19] UN envoy Nimetz delivers new proposal on fYRoM name issue
  • [20] Former PM Papandreou submits note to investigating committee probing 'Lagarde list' case
  • [21] Doctors, management condemn Chryssi Avgi raids in state hospitals
  • [22] Public hospital doctors, Evangelismos Hospital personnel reactions to Chryssi Avgi practices
  • [23] Sea patrols intensified after Syrian developments
  • [24] Greece records first negative inflation rate in 45 years
  • [25] National Bank, Eurobank boards meet later on Tuesday
  • [26] National Bank being led to declline and selloff, union charges
  • [27] Prosecutor orders investigation based on ICIJ report on offshore companies
  • [28] Record numbers of tourists expected in 2013, hoteliers' union president tells ANA-MPA WebTV
  • [29] HRADF: Nine investment groups submit expressions of interest in exploitation of property in Paliouri, Halkidiki
  • [30] Greek company wins European award for growth and employment
  • [31] Greece raises 1.3 bln euros from T-bill auction
  • [32] Greek export growth uneven among product categories
  • [33] Exports rose 6.1pct in February
  • [34] Industrial production down 3.9 pct in Feb
  • [35] Vote on investment bill postponed to Wednesday
  • [36] Inauguration of Invest in Greece's Investors' Ombudsman service
  • [37] Shipping ministry sources deny troika behind 40 mln euro cuts in subsidies
  • [38] Seamen's strike on April 16.
  • [39] Intracom Defense Electronics signs 18-mln-dollar Patriot contract with Raytheon
  • [40] Business Briefs
  • [41] Greek stocks jump 5.72 pct, bank shares recover strongly
  • [42] Greek bond market closing report
  • [43] ADEX closing report
  • [44] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [45] Antiauthoritarians clash with believed ultra-right members in Patras
  • [46] 15-year-old doing well after brain surgery in German clinic
  • [47] Arrest for drug dealing on Crete
  • [48] 5R quake jolts Lakonia prefecture
  • [49] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [50] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Gov't to meet with troika again on Wednesday

    The meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the government's economic staff with the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika of Greece's international lenders was concluded close to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis had left the meeting earlier.

    A new meeting will be taking place at 12 noon on Wednesday in the framework of negotiations for the disbursement of the two tranches (of the 2.8 billion euros that is the "remainder" of the big tranche of last December and the 6 billion euros that must be given for the first quarter of this year).

    [02] Manitakis leaves meeting with troika; states 'no problem in our relations'

    Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis departed from a meeting between the Greek government and the troika representing Greece's lenders on Tuesday, while Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and his team at the ministry stayed on to continue negotiations with the country's creditors.

    In statements to the press after Stournaras accompanied him to the elevator, Manitakis said: "We are discussing the final points. There is a joint position, there is no problem in our relations."

    Questioned about the stance adopted by the troika, Manitakis said the representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) had not asked for additional figures but for clarifications that he would provide.

    "I don't want to anticipate what the outcome of the talks will be; they have been underway for a month and a half, in any case," he added.

    Manitakis had earlier had a 40-minute meeting with DIM.AR leader Fotis Kouvelis, during which they reviewed issues relating to public sector reform and the troika's demands for the immediate removal of all staff found guilty of misconduct. Manitakis had received the troika's recommendations for the immediate removal of public sector staff in writing.

    Kouvelis reiterated DIM.AR's full support for the proposals made by Manitakis and noted that the troika's proposals contain no new elements and are not in alignment with the government position prepared by the administrative reform ministry.

    During a regular DIM.AR Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, with the participation of the party's MPs, discussion had focused on developments in negotiations with the troika and the cancellation of a planned merger between Eurobank and National Bank of Greece. The meeting confirmed the party's positions and handling, while a decision was made to voice DIM.AR's reservations and proposals openly where these existed.

    [03] Troika did not demand civil servants' layoffs, Manitakis associates say

    No new issue was raised by the troika on the issue of reforming the public sector and even more so it did not demand the removal of 20,000 employees, as certain reports had mentioned in the past days, according to associates of the Administrative Reform minister who spoke following the meeting held with the representatives of the country's creditors at the Finance Ministry on Tuesday.

    The discussion between the two sides was limited to the government's commitment towards the country's creditors and to the medium-term programme, something that the government has fulfilled, the Administrative Reform ministry said. Also, it briefly referred to the issue of those civil servants accused of misconduct, about whom Manitakis stated that it is up to the government to remove them without delays.

    Lastly, associates of Manitakis stress that there was never any personal differences with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

    [04] Finance Ministry issues clarification on National Bank-Eurobank merger

    In an announcement released late Tuesday night, the Finance Ministry clarified that there was no official exchange of correspondence between the troika lenders to Greece and Greek authorities. There there was an exchange of emails requesting additional clarifications from Greece, the ministry said, but no objections to the merger of the two banks

    The ministry responded to claims that the troika had blocked the mergers.

    It also said that there is absolutely no disagreement between or problem in the relations between the Ministry of Finance and the National Bank's managing director, Alexandros Tourkolias. "Any such press reports are entirely untrue," the ministry said.

    [05] Energy issues dominated meeting with troika, environment ministry sources say

    Energy issues dominated a meeting held on Tuesday between Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou and officials representing the troika of Greece's lenders, environment ministry sources said.

    The meeting focused on developments relating to the deficit of the electric power market operator, a draft bill for renewable energy sources, liquidity problems on the market and the model to be chosen for privatising the Public Power Corporation (PPC).

    The ministry has already announced its intention to bring a new package of measures to eradicate the deficit in the account for funding RES, which may run to 700 million euros this year and reach 1.3 billion euros in 2014.

    Among the commitments made by Greece under the terms of the memorandum is to fully deregulate power prices after June for all consumers, apart from vulnerable groups, and a new change in PPC rates from May to reflect the cost of power.

    [06] PASOK leader says public administration issues the big 'thorn' after meeting with Troika

    The big 'thorn' is the public administration-related issues, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday, after a meeting with the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders, noting that "we must overcome this matter, within the context of the

    Constitution and lawful order, and under the supervision of the authoritative courts".

    "Our fundamental target is to avoid any thought of additional fiscal measures," Venizelos said, adding that "we will not take (such additional measures)...society, the economy and the political system cannot endure any more".

    In that same context, however, "we shore up the country against additional measures when we give proof of our reliability with the structural changes" added Venizelos, a junior partner in the three-member coalition government.

    Asked whether the civil servants' mobility issue is "in the hands" of Administrative Reform and e-Governance Minister Antonis Manitakis, Venizelos explained that the matter is not at all a "personal" one but concerns the entire government, the country and society, and that all issues were being dealt with by the parliamentary majority, with agreement among the three party leaders backing the government.

    Venizelos further opined that it is "very important" for the Troika to meet directly with the Democratic Left (DIMAR) party, the other junior partner in the coalition government, as this would "help greatly in pinpointing the issues as each side sees them, because we must do everything necessary for completion of the process".

    The PASOK leader and the Troika discussed all issued covered in the negotiations with the government in a one-hour meeting at the PASOK headquarters.

    Venizelos noted that the meeting took place in agreement with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, given that PASOK's target is to always support the government's efforts in the negotiation with the partners and, with its intercessions, to facilitate the speedy completion of the process, dispel the uncertainty and send the message that Greece, inside an uncertain Europe, has definitively taken the road to exiting the crisis.

    "It is not possible that every 2-3 months the same scene repeats itself, that we have the same uncertainty over the tranche and for the disbursement of the tranche to be the focal point of the public and economic life," he said, stressing that "growth, social cohesion, and the optimism needed for Greece to stand on its own...should be the focal point".

    He said that from his discussions with the Troika, it arose that the big "thorn" is public administration, adding that the Troika was not dealing with these matters from a fiscal, but rather from a restructural, viewpoint.

    "On this issue depends our credibility, the response to whether here in Greece we want deep changes, reforms, a different state that can function in an investment-friendly, growth-friendly and citizen-friendly way," Venizelos continued, stressing that "we must give an affirmative reply", that "we are not afraid of the changes".

    "We need to overcome this issue...the procedures must move forward and be procedures of disciplinary assessment and professional assessment," he said, adding that "these will give us credibility both at home and internationally".

    "Our fundamental goal is and should be to avert any thought of additional fiscal measures", he said, noting that "we will not take them, society, the economy and the political system cannot endure them" and added that "we shore up the country against additional measures when we give examples of credibility in the structural changes".

    Venizelos said he would discuss these matters both with the Prime Minister and with DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis, "with whom we are in regular contact", adding that it is very important for a direct meeting between DIMAR and the Troika to be held as this would help in pinpointing how each side sees these matters, because "we need to do everything necessary for the process to be completed".

    As for the postponement of the merger of National Bank of Greece (NBG) with Eurobank, two of Greece's four systemic banks, "the final decision has not been taken," noting that the final decision on the merger will be taken by the Hellenic Fiscal Stability Fund (HFSF) when the recapitalisation of the two banks is completed.

    He said the fact that the recapitalisation (of the systemic banks) will be completed in the following days was "very important", noting that the target is a steady banking system, and stressed that it is "absolutely clear, from every respect" that "the deposits are totally secure in their entirety". Venizelos added equally clear was his own message that "with National Bank as the backbone, there must always be a pylon of state interest, which is in real contact with the interests of the country".

    As for the special surtax on real estate, he anticipated that "a solution that is mutually acceptable will be found", while regarding the arrangements for payment of debts to the social security funds and the Tax Bureau "we have the impression that a satisfactory solution will be found".

    On unemployment, Venizelos said that the Troika very well realises the need put forward by PASOK's relevant proposal for a major programme against unemployment, adding that "it is up to the government to submit an integrated, far-reaching programme to deal with it".

    He said he exercised the greatest possible pressure on the problem of the overindebted households, as this would "help both the households and the banking system".

    Asked whether the administrative reform and banking issues could put the governmental cohesion at risk, Venizelos replied in the negative, and citing the special real estate surtax "which has become a single tax on real estate", said "we showed that solutions can be found".

    Venizelos further said that the recent experience in Cyprus should make the Greeks wiser, stressing that "there is no alternative solution, there never was".

    As for the situation in Europe, he said that the problems faced at its core are such that oblige it to make jittery decisions, and therefore "Greece should move in the direction of exiting the crisis and we must find ourselves as quickly as possible in the safest possible position".

    "If someone wishes to move outside the euro, he must make his choice outside the euro and tell the people that the cost, the sacrifice, the pain, will be much greater. This is the dilemma, everything else is embellishment, demagogy, lies and delusions," he warned.

    [07] Coalition government is cornered by troika, SYRIZA says

    The only purpose of the government's talks with the troika is to create the impression among the people that there is actually a negotiation going on, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) said on Tuesday.

    A party statement underlined that, while the economy and society are suffocating because of the austerity programmes being implemented, both the government and the troika are determined to carry on with their common and pre-decided plan for layoffs in the public sector, privatisations and the demolition of labour rights.

    "All the rest is happening just to fool the people," SYRIZA added, noting that "aside from their minor differences, that do not touch the core of the implemented policy, the three government partners have their hands tied behind their backs as a result of the memorandum commitments they have undertaken. They have no alternative proposal, no solution that will help the country overcome the impasse into which it was led by the memorandum policy."

    SYRIZA underlined that only a government determined to have as a priority the needs of the society and not the capital holders' or the lenders' needs, can put an end to the downhill course the country has entered because of the memorandum.

    [08] Figures on the course of abolition or mergers of organizations to be presented by April 20

    Eight government ministries will have to inform the ministry of administrative reform by April 20 on the progress made in the abolition or mergers of agencies and organizations under their jurisdiction, according to a circular published on Tuesday.

    Specific figures, which will pinpoint any delays in the implementation of the necessary procedures, will have to be submitted by the ministries of development, justice, defence, environment, education, tourism and Macedonia-Thrace. The procedures in question were launched last January with the adoption of legislative regulations for the abolition of eight organizations and 197 public legal entities.

    The circular underlines that these are commitments undertaken by the government within the framework of the reform measures promoted in the sector of public administration.

    [09] Dep. FM: Greece aiming for export-driven, open economy within euro

    Greece will succeed in exiting the crisis while remaining within the euro, with a strong democracy and outward-looking Greek enterprises as its guideline, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas stressed on Tuesday at an event reviewing the country's economic diplomacy in 2012 and its plans for 2013.

    "We know that the power of a country is based chiefly on its economy. It is based on the firms that plan their activities in terms of an international presence and formulate their strategy in the light of globalisation," Kourkoulas emphasised.

    He stressed that the era of growth fuelled by domestic consumption and 'cheap' credit was over, never to return, while its results were known to all: "a constantly widening balance of trade, plunging competitiveness and restriction of exports." Only those who exposed themselves to global competition had any hope of survival in a world where the terms 'domestic market' and 'protection' had lost their former meaning, he added.

    The minister underlined that any exit from the crisis must necessarily go via the mechanisms of the euro and the European Union, rejecting all other options as 'catastrophic'.

    "This is the only way we can safeguard democracy. Only in this way can we push back extreme ideologies, such as those that plunged Europe into a bloodbath and are unfortunately reappearing in our country. This is the real wager of our age," Kourkoulas said .

    The minister stressed that the foreign ministry would not allow the country's current difficulties to have a negative impact on foreign policy and warned those "betting" on such an outcome that they were mistaken. "The government and the Greek people will prevent any such attempt," he said.

    Kourkoulas also expressed optimism about the future course of Greek exports, noting that the first positive messages were already apparent since exports had jumped significantly in recent years.

    This was also confirmed by foreign ministry general secretary for international economic relations Panagiotis Mihalos, who said exports had risen 13.9 percent in 2012 relative to 2011, rising to 27.6 billion euros, or 13.8 percent of GDP.

    [10] FinMin briefs EU member-state envoys

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday briefed the 27 ambassadors of EU member-states on the Greek economy's present state and prospects, as well as his opinions regarding the architecture of the eurozone. He was speaking during a lunch hosted by Irish Ambassador to Greece Charles Sheehan, in the framework of the current Irish EU presidency.

    During the lunch, a broad debate was held on the country's negotiations with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika representing Greece's international lenders, develop-ments in the Greek banking sector, the government's programme of privatisations as well as on the Cyprus' crisis in view of Friday's Ecofin informal meeting in Dublin.

    [11] Foreign minister forwards GAO report on war reparations files to State's Legal Council

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday officially forwarded to Legal Council of State President Fokionas Georgakopoulos the confidential report compiled by a General Accounting Office working group concerning files contained in

    Greece's archives relating to WW I and WWII war reparations claims. A foreign ministry announcement said the file was forwarded to Georgakopoulos for legal evaluation, processing and to substantiate the Greek State's claims, asking him to submit an opinion.

    [12] President Papoulias receives AHEPA delegation

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday met with visiting Hellenic American Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) representatives and called on them to urge US businessmen to invest in Greece and boost the tourism sector.

    Welcoming the delegation at the Presidential Mansion, Papoulias noted that "big progress" has been made by Greece, underlining that "a lot more can be done by the end of the year".

    President Papoulias said early signs indicate that "this year will be a good year for Greek tourism" and referring to American tourists he added that "our American friends will find no other country to be more beautiful". He also referred to the important intervention made by US President Barack Obama, who called on Berlin to help Greece in these crucial times.

    President Papoulias also thanked AHEPA for the assistance offered to fellow Greeks in need in a very tough period for Greece.

    [13] Foreign Minister Avramopoulos meets with AHEPA delegation

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday met with a visiting Hellenic American Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) delegation, headed by its president John Grossomanides. The delegation included AHEPA members from the United States and Canada.

    Avramopoulos congratulated the AHEPA president on the initiatives undertaken by the organization soon after the economic crisis erupted in Greece.

    The talks focused on AHEPA's contribution in the efforts to promote the comparative advantages of the Greek economy, attract foreign investors from the United States and Canada and boost the tourist flow from those countries.

    [14] PASOK's Venizelos met with EEA board members

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, a junior partner in the coalition government, met on Tuesday with Professional Chamber of Athens (EEA) board members and repeated his party's positions in favour of the independence and financial substance of the chambers of commerce as legal entities of public law and as advisers to the State.

    The meeting focused on issues concerning National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) programmes and business initiatives that can be undertaken by the country's chambers to help their members with new ideas for programmes, clusters, joint ventures, common infrastructure and collaborations with banking institutions, among others.

    [15] KKE strongly criticises government policy on illegal migration

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday strongly criticised the government's policy on illegal migrants, in response to a hunger strike at the Amygdaleza Detention Centre.

    KKE called for dignified and sanitary conditions in places used for the temporary detention of illegal migrants and demanded that all detention centres be shut down.

    According to KKE, travel documents should be issued for those wishing to go to other countries, a stance of disobedience should be adopted to the Dublin II and Schengen agreements and EU policy should be rejected.

    In addition, reliable and speedy procedures should be introduced for asylum seekers and the Xenios Zeus mass police crackdown on illegal migrants should end, the KKE statement underlined.

    [16] KKE party on civil employees' layoffs

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Tuesday, stressed that "the government and the troika are using the employees accused of misconduct to justify the thousands of layoffs of civil servants, that they have already scheduled, with the aim of eliminating every sense of stable labour in both the public and private sector. The civil servants must realise that their fate is common with the working people in the private sector".

    KKE added that "the working people in both the private and public sector have a duty and interest to struggle jointly for the right to stable work, with modern rights for all, for a safety net to be spread for all the unemployed, no working class family to remain unprotected from the tax raid on the working class income".

    [17] KKE 19th Congress opens Thursday

    The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) opens on Thursday, with a presentation of the KKE Central Committee's recommendations by party leader Aleka Papariga.

    According to an announcement by the KKE press office, the Congress follows four months of discussion of the pre-Congress texts with party organisations, the KKE's youth organisation KNE and thousands of working people, adding that the Central Committee's text of Positions and the party's new Programme were approved in voting by 96.8 percent of the party's members, while the new party Constitution was approved by 97.3 percent of the members.

    Messages of solidarity have been sent to the KKE Central Committee from 66 Communist and Labor parties from all over the world, the press office added.

    [18] Tax administration will remain in public sector, tax office staff assured

    In a meeting with the tax office employees national union federation POE-DOY on Tuesday, the political leadership of the finance ministry assured them that tax administration will remain in the public sector.

    The union federation conveyed the workforce's demands and were briefed on the need to redistribute the existing personnel and for tax offices to shed their involvement in activities not related to taxation, in order to free human resources that can then focus on the work of tax inspections and collecting tax revenue.

    Last Friday, POE-DOY had announced plans for a warning strike on April 23, in order to "condemn the unfair tax policy with the constant imposition of 'head taxes', keep tax office services in the public sector and protect all permanent jobs in the sector.

    [19] UN envoy Nimetz delivers new proposal on fYRoM name issue

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The UN Secretary General's personal envoy Matthew Nimetz announced on Tuesday, following his joint meeting at the international organisation's headquarters with the representatives of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) that he delivered a new proposal to the two sides on the issue of the name.

    As Nimetz said, his proposal will be examined by the governments of the two countries and he is expected, after the Orthodox Easter, to either visit the region or new meetings to be held in New York.

    [20] Former PM Papandreou submits note to investigating committee probing 'Lagarde list' case

    Former prime minister George Papandreou submitted a note to the investigating committee probing the case of the "Lagarde list", whose sessions began on Tuesday evening.

    According to reports, Papandreou's note is composed of a few pages and the spirit of its content revolves around the standing order, that he says he had given to all his associates, in the direction of cracking down on tax evasion.

    The reports also said that the former prime minister mentions in his note that he was "never briefed, nor did I request to be notified on the content or on any other issue regarding the list", while at another point he says: "I remind that I personally was recently a victim of the rumours developed publicly, as well as of the uncontrolled scenario talk and conspiracy talk that prevailed in relation to the so-called Lagarde list, when, with surpise and anger, I faced the conscious in my view attempt by some to involve my mother Margaret Papandreou in the case, for obvious political expediencies. Justice will soon have a say in this case".

    [21] Doctors, management condemn Chryssi Avgi raids in state hospitals

    The management of Kalamata Public Hospital on Tuesday reacted angrily to Monday night's unauthorized raid on the hospital by opposition ultra-right Chryssi Avgi members - headed by party MP Dimitris Koukoutsis - ostensibly for the purpose of checking whether undocumented migrant women are working illegally as private nurses.

    A hospital statement condemned the raid as "unacceptable, arbitrary and impermissible," stressing that actions seeking to substitute for the functioning of the competent authorities have no place in a democratic and well-governed state.

    Referring to the problem of undocumented private nurses, the hospital management underlined that the issue is "monitored and checked on a daily basis, in close cooperation with the responsible authorities, including the Social Insurance Fund (IKA-ETAM), the police, the prosecutor's office, the Hellenic Labour Inspection Corps (SEPE) and the Private Nurses' Union".

    [22] Public hospital doctors, Evangelismos Hospital personnel reactions to Chryssi Avgi practices

    Chryssi Avgi's "racist and fascist practices" in public hospitals were also categorically condemned in a Federation of Hospital Doctors of Greece (OEGNE) resolution issued on Tuesday.

    "The repeated efforts made by the fascists to consolidate their presence in the sector of public health using terrorizing raids and racist blood donations, and also, by setting up 'clinics', cannot be tolerated by hospital doctors, health sector personnel and democratic citizens," the OEGNE resolution underlined.

    In response to a request for information made by Chryssi Avgi concerning staff shortages in Evangelismos Hospital, its personnel called on the hospital's management to refuse access to information requested by "the racist Nazi sympathizers," saying that they are not welcome on the hospital's premises.

    Public Order minister denies use of private firm to guard Parliament

    Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikolaos Dendias on Tuesday denied that Parliament had ever enlisted the aid of any private agency to provide security services or training.

    Dendias said that all police activity relating to Parliament was exclusively handled by the Greek Police (ELAS) via Parliament's Security Service, replying to a questions submitted by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA-EKM) MPs Irene Dourou, Thodoris Dritsas and Dimitris Tsoukalas.

    The question concerned press reports that the government had contacted the private security firm Academi to undertake to guard Parliament.

    [23] Sea patrols intensified after Syrian developments

    The Greek Port Authority and Coast Guard have intensified their patrols in the eastern Aegean Sea, as developments in Syria have led to a spike in illegal immigration in the eastern parts of Greece.

    Their joint action department, the directorate to protect sea borders, said that in the first quarter of the year, 880 people had been arrested, over 31 for the same quarter in 2012. Arrested traffickers were 13 in the first quarter this year, over one in the same quarter last year.

    The majority of the illegal immigrants and traffickers are Syria and Afghanistan nationals.

    Financial News

    [24] Greece records first negative inflation rate in 45 years

    Greece recorded its first negative inflation rate in the last 45 years in March, with the consumer price index falling to -0.2 pct, from 0.1 pct in February, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The last time Greece reported a negative inflation rate was in May 1968 (-0.3 pct).

    The statistics service, in a report, noted that the inflation rate turned negative in March despite a 26.9 pct increase in heating oil price and a 12.3 pct increase in electricity rates. The report noted that fresh potato prices rose 27.9 pct in March, fresh fish prices rose 2.7 pct and fresh fruit rose 2.3 pct, while dairy/eggs rose 0.6 pct and meat prices edged 0.4 pct higher. Tobacco prices also rose by 5.9 pct, along with clothing/footwear (2.1 pct), while air travel cost jumped 23.7 pct. On the other hand, pharmaceutical prices fell 14.6 pct, household services fell 8.4 pct, computer prices dropped 5.7 pct, car prices eased 5.3 pct and telephone service prices fell 5.1 pct.

    The inflation rate was 1.7 pct in March 2012 and up 2.5 pct in March 2013 from February 2013.

    The durable/household goods and services index recorded a 3.5 pct decline, the health index fell 4.6 pct, the transport index eased 2.1 pct, communications were 5.1 pct down, leisure/cultural prices index fell 2.9 pct, the education index fell 4.0 pct and the hotel/restaurant/coffee index was down 1.2 pct in March. On the other hand, the food/beverage index rose 0.3 pct, the alcohol/tobacco index was up 4.8 pct and the housing index rose 8.0 pct.

    Greece's harmonized inflation rate fell to 0.2 pct in March, from the same month last year.

    [25] National Bank, Eurobank boards meet later on Tuesday

    The boards of National Bank and Eurobank were to convene on Tuesday to discuss their future policy following Sunday's decision by the Bank of Greece to temporarily suspend their merger process and to move on with separate recapitalization schemes.

    The two banks were at the final stage of a merger process, with the plan to proceed with a recapitalization of a single group, shortly after their legal merger in early June.

    The two boards are expected to activate procedures for separate share capital increase plans and to set the dates for extraordinary general shareholders' meetings.

    National Bank requires 9.7 billion euros under its recapitalization plan, while Eurobank needs 5.8 billion euros. In case the two banks failed to cover the minimum participation of the private sector, 10 pct of total recapitalization, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund will fully cover their share capital increase requirements and will take control of the banks.

    [26] National Bank being led to declline and selloff, union charges

    The union of National Bank employees (SYETE) charged that the stalled National Bank-Eurobank merger is "a plan to take over the National Bank in order to fully control the Greek economy and treat the assets of insurance funds and old shareholders with disdain."

    In an emergency press conference called by the union, its president Giorgos Giannakopoulos said that so far no permission has been granted to private investors to participate in the National Bank's capital increase, which meant there is no opportunity to old shareholders to participate by 10 pct in the bank's increase of capital.

    This, he said, is a requirement to keeping the bank under Greek control. He added that insurance funds should also be allowed to participate in an increase in capital.

    SYETE representatives charged that the National Bank, the flagship of economic growth, is intentionally being led to its decline, breakup and finally its selloff.

    Labour minister says no government intervention in social security Funds on National Bank recapitalization issue

    Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, speaking after his meeting Tuesday with the head of the European Commission's Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach, stressed that "the Funds have autonomy in the taking of decisions", replying to a question on the participation of social security Funds in the recapitalization of the National Bank.

    "As the government we would not direct a certain Fund in any case to make or not to make such an action. Our position is that the social security agencies have the possibility to decide assessing the amount of their availables in the framework of the interest of the agency and its insured," the minister concluded.

    [27] Prosecutor orders investigation based on ICIJ report on offshore companies

    A wide-ranging investigation into possible tax evasion through offshore companies connected to Greek citizens has opened by order of the First Instance Court head prosecutor, Panagiota Fakou.

    The investigation was ordered following a publication last Thursday by Ta Nea newspaper of a global report by the International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

    The report, "Secrecy For Sale: Inside The Global Offshore Money Maze" - drawing on 2.5 million secret files and described as perhaps "the largest cross border journalism collaboration in history" - had prompted a comment on the same day by Finance Ministry Secretary General for revenues Haris Theoharis, who said the ministry would examine the evidence and take appropriate action.

    Most of the offshore companies of Greek interest included in these secret files are based in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. The report revealed a total of 107 offshore firms owned by Greek interests, of which only 4 were listed in the country's tax registers - as required in the case of companies economically active or having property assets in Greece.

    Of the other 103, 18 are associated with individuals who have listed their residence as being beyong the Attica prefecture. But 33 of the 107 list as shareholders or managers individuals who live within prefecture - in Kolonaki, Piraeus, Glyfada and the norther suburbs.

    Individuals named are linked with law, shipping, maritime and construction offices, the food and information services, and a dance studio.

    [28] Record numbers of tourists expected in 2013, hoteliers' union president tells ANA-MPA WebTV

    Roughly 17 million tourists are expected to arrive in Greece this summer, bringing direct revenues of roughly 11 billion euros into the country's coffers, the president of the Panhellenic Hoteliers' Federation Yiannis Retsos said in an interview with ANA-MPA WebTV on Tuesday.

    Retsos said the largest percentage of visitors was expected to arrive from Russia, though higher traffic is also expected from countries such as Germany, where arrivals had "collapsed" in recent years.

    In spite of the upbeat predictions, hotels and the tourism sector were not immune to the ill effects of the crisis affecting all areas of the economy, he added, blaming excessive taxation and especially high VAT on restaurant services. He underlined the need to reduce VAT for restaurants from 23 percent currently to 13 percent, in order to boost growth in tourism-related enterprises.

    The interview can be seen in full on ANA-MPA WebTV.

    [29] HRADF: Nine investment groups submit expressions of interest in exploitation of property in Paliouri, Halkidiki

    Nine international and domestic investment groups have expressed interest in the exploitation of a property in the Paliouri Area in Halkidiki, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) said on Tuesday.

    HRADF noted "high interest" in the property, without, however, releasing further details.

    The deadline for the submission of expressions of interest expired on April 5, with the submission of offers by nine investment groups.

    [30] Greek company wins European award for growth and employment

    Mega Sprint Guard, a Greek security services and product company, was awarded as one of the top five companies in Europe with the biggest growth and employment rates in Europe. The Greek company was awarded during a special ceremony held in the European Parliament.

    Mega Sprint Guard began its activities in 1994 and was awarded for managing to improve the quality of its services and the number of its workforce during a period of large unemployment in the country. The award, offered by Europe 500 and IESE Business School, was received by the company's president and chief executive Roula Tahtaridou and vice-president Panagiotis Pappas.

    [31] Greece raises 1.3 bln euros from T-bill auction

    Greece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issue raising 1.3 billion euros from the market at a stable interest rate. The Public Debt Management Organization, in a statement, said that the interest rate of the issue was set at 4.25 pct, unchanged from the previous auction of same securities in March 5.

    Bids submitted totaled 1.6 billion euros, 1.6 times more than asked sum, and the organization accepted non-competitive bids worth 300 million euros. The auction was made with the market's primary dealers and settlement date was set for Friday, 12 April. The organization will also accept additional non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum by Thursday, 11 April.

    [32] Greek export growth uneven among product categories

    Greek exports grew by 6.1 pct in February, totaling 2.130 billion euros, including oil products, but fell by 3.7 pct excluding exports of oil products, the Panhellenic Exporters Association said on Tuesday.

    In a report, analyzing official data over the country's merchandise trade, the Association said that counterbalancing forces were pressuring the country's external trade, which maintained positive growth rates of exports but at the same time several product categories recorded negative trends, while imports continued rising.

    Exports grew by 11.9 pct in the 12-month period from January 2012 to February 2013, while excluding oil products exports grew by only 0.9 pct. EU member-states accounted for 42 pct of total Greek exports, while Third country accounted for 58 pct, but excluding oil products, the EU accounted for 67 pct of exports and Third countries for 33 pct. Exports to third countries fell by 18.9 pct, while exports to the EU rose by 6.1 pct (excluding oil products).

    Exports of olive oil soared 221.2 pct, while fresh fruit and vegetable produce exports grew by 10.6 pct. Oil products accounted for 40.7 pct of total Greek exports in February, up from 38.6 pct in February 2012.

    On the other hand, exports of industrial products fell 10.3 pct, beverage/tobacco were down 18.7 pct and raw materials fell by 30.3 pct.

    Imports grew for the third consecutive month in February totaling 3.892 billion euros, mainly from third countries (up 21.4 pct), while imports from the EU fell 11 pct.

    [33] Exports rose 6.1pct in February

    Greek exports rose by 6.1 percent in February, while imports, after 7 months of decline or negligible rise, increased by 5.4 percent, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said Tuesday.

    ELSTAT, in a report, said that "the total value of exports-dispatches for the 12-month time period of March 2012 - February 2013 increased by 11.9% compared to the corresponding 12-month time period of March 2011 - February 2012.

    The total value of imports-arrivals for the 12-month time period of March 2012 - February 2013 increased by 3.4% compared to the corresponding 12-month time period of March 2011 - February 2012.

    The total value of exports-dispatches in February 2013 amounted to 2130.4 million euros against 2007.8 million euros in February 2012, recording an increase of 6.1%.

    [34] Industrial production down 3.9 pct in Feb

    Greek industrial production fell 3.9 pct in February, with manufacturing production easing by 0.4 pct, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the industrial production index was down 8.6 pct in February 2012 and attributed this year's fall in production to an 1.1 pct decline in mining production, a 0.4 pct decline in manufacturing production (leather/footwear -20.4 pct, furniture -24 pct, textiles -16.6 pct, food -1.0 pct, while clothing rose by 14.1 pct, beverages rose 3.0 pct and tobacco was up 16.5 pct).

    The electricity production index fell 14.4 pct in February, while the water production index eased 1.3 pct.

    The industrial production index fell 4.1 pct on average in the first two months of the year, after a 7.7 pct decline recorded in the corresponding period in 2012.

    [35] Vote on investment bill postponed to Wednesday

    Parliament posponed the scheduled voting on the new investment bill in full, after disagreement on an article related to the breach of trust of bank managers who approve loans to the public sector.

    All opposition parties and one deputy each from PASOK and Democratic Left called on the government to cancel the article. The voting will be held by roll call at 12 noon on Wednesday, following a request by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).

    [36] Inauguration of Invest in Greece's Investors' Ombudsman service

    The Investors' Ombudsman, a new service of the Invest in Greece Agency, is set for inauguration.

    The Investors' Ombudsman, which is envisaged to facilitate speed up all types of investments in Greece above two million euros, is part of a wider framework of actions by the government to boost investment incentives in Greece and is introduced with the Development Ministry's new law on "Establishing a Growth-Friendly Environment for Strategic and Private Investments".

    Invest in Greece CEO Stephanos Issaias and Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure and Networks deputy minister Notis Mitarakis will present the new service at a press conference on Wednesday.

    [37] Shipping ministry sources deny troika behind 40 mln euro cuts in subsidies

    Senior Shipping Ministry sources told the ANA-MPA that the rescheduling of subsidised coastal shipping lines (low-traffic ones) will improve the effectiveness of the network, determine the needs of the local societies and redefine the terms and criteria of scheduling.

    They also denied press reports on pressures by the troika on cutbacks amounting to 40 million euros in subsidies.

    There was never any such discussion at any level with the troika and it is known that funds registered in the ministry's budget for 2013 amount to 84.2 million euros (49.2 million at the Aegean Aegean General Secretariat and 35 million euros in the central service of the Shipping Ministry, the sources said, expressing their scepticism over the expediency of such information.

    The rescheduling of the subsidised network of coastal shipping communication (low traffic lines) were released to public consultation on Monday for a period of two months.

    It is noteworthy that out of the 35 subsidised coastal shipping lines the 13 belong to the Aegean and Island Policy General Secretariat and the remaining 22 to the Shipping ministry.

    The budget for the low-traffic lines in 2013 was decreased by 10 percent to 83.5 million euros, from 94 in 2012.

    [38] Seamen's strike on April 16.

    Ships will remain docked at ports throughout the country on Tuesday 16 April as seamen will stage a 24-hour strike in protest of an Omnibus bill by the Merchant Marine Ministry on "restructure and other provisions" .

    [39] Intracom Defense Electronics signs 18-mln-dollar Patriot contract with Raytheon

    Intracom Defense Electronics, a member of Intracom Holdings Group, on Tuesday announced it was expanding its cooperation with Raytheon, with the signing of a contract, worth 18 million US dollars, for the production of sub-units of anti-aircraft Patriot systems for a third country. The contract will be completed in the first quarter of 2015.

    Intracom Defense Electronics has signed a series of contracts worth more than 320 million euros since 2006.

    [40] Business Briefs

    -- Mega Sprint Guard, a Greek security services and product company, was awarded as one of the top five companies in Europe with the biggest growth and employment rates in Europe.

    [41] Greek stocks jump 5.72 pct, bank shares recover strongly

    Greek stocks staged a spectacular recovery in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market soaring 5.72 pct to end at 876.54 points, boosted by strong buying interest in bank shares and other blue chips.

    Eurobank's share price soared 29.44 pct, gaining more than 50 pct in the last two sessions, boosted by market's optimism that the bank's management will manage to raise the private capital needed to remain under private control. National Bank's share price also recovered, gaining 1.07 pct.

    Turnover was a slightly improved 64.157 million euros. The Big Cap index soared 6.46 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 6.56 pct higher. All sector indices moved higher, with Financial Services gaining 12.15 pct, followed by Health (11.32 pct), Utilities (11.19 pct), Travel (11.0 pct) and Banks (4.70 pct). All blue chip stocks scored gains, led by Eurobank (29.44 pct), MIG (20.28 pct), Piraeus Bank (16.46 pct), Ellaktor (13.25 pct), Metka (12.83 pct) and OPAP (12.0 pct). Broadly, advancers led decliners by 105 to 38 with another 24 issues unchanged. Lambrakis Press (145.38 pct), Eurobank (29.44 pct) and Audiovisual (27.98 pct) were top gainers, while Kreka (19.69 pct), Selonda (19.29 pct) and HOL (17.09 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +7.87%

    Commercial: +4.31%

    Construction: +5.81%

    Oil & Gas: +2.40%

    Personal & Household: +6.76%

    Raw Materials: +10.04%

    Travel & Leisure: +11.00%

    Technology: +5.87%

    Telecoms: +6.46%

    Banks: +4.70%

    Food & Beverages: +3.84%

    Health: +11.32%

    Utilities: +11.19%

    Financial Services: +12.15%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, HBC Coca Cola, National Bank and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.65

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.72

    HBC Coca Cola: 20.25

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.41

    National Bank of Greece: 0.47

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.23

    OPAP: 7.00

    OTE: 5.27

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.19

    Titan: 13.08

    [42] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 10.49 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 10.68 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.74 pct and the German Bund 1.25 pct. Turnover was 11.0 million euros, of which 10 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.0 million euros was a sell order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.54 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.44 pct, the six-month rate was 0.33 pct, the three-month rate was 0.21 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.

    [43] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 2.55 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 20.503 million euros.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,536 contracts worth 8.834 million euros, with 26,258 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 58,245 contracts worth 11.669 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (24,662), followed by Alpha Bank (8,715), Piraeus Bank (4,668), Eurobank (2,099), MIG (1,774), OTE (5,100), PPC (3,134), OPAP (1,277), Mytilineos (1,434), GEK (1,780), Ellaktor (628), Intralot (937) and Sidenor (219).

    [44] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.323

    Pound sterling 0.864

    Danish kroner 7.567

    Swedish kroner 8.502

    Japanese yen 130.85

    Swiss franc 1.238

    Norwegian kroner 7.598

    Canadian dollar 1.343

    Australian dollar 1.263

    General News

    [45] Antiauthoritarians clash with believed ultra-right members in Patras

    One person was arrested and 18 were detained in clashes that broke out in central Patras late Monday night after a group of anti-authoritarians stormed a cafe believed to be frequented by members of the ultra-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) party near Psila Alonia Square.

    The two sides initially argued verbally then started throwing rocks at each other, and the scuffles soon spread to the side streets.

    MAT riot police who rushed to the spot used chemicals to repel the crowd.

    The anti-authoritarians then set up road blocks with trash bins, which they set on fire, while a second group of anti-authoritarians that attempted to join the first group was blocked by police.

    According to police, the man arrested is a 30-year-old foreign national who was recently released from prison.

    The incident ended in the first hours of Tuesday.

    Damage has been caused to parked cars, according to police sources.

    [46] 15-year-old doing well after brain surgery in German clinic

    A 15-year-old boy who was airlifted to Hanover, Germany, via government aircraft for brain surgery has been transferred to a ward following brain surgery completed late Monday.

    Doctors at the German clinic removed a cavernous angioma from the student's brain in an operation that could not be performed in Greece. Following surgery the boy was in a recovery room and transferred to a regular ward on Tuesday. Doctors believe he will need to remain in the clinic for about a month, during which he will start physical therapy.

    Following a request by the health minister, the young patient was flown to Hanover on the prime minister's aircraft, to guarantee special cabin pressurization conditions during flight.

    [47] Arrest for drug dealing on Crete

    A 42-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in Heraklion, Crete charged with drug dealing.

    A search of his house revealed three packets of cocaine totaling 3.6 grams, a revolver and bullets as well as a precision scale, two counterfeit 50 euro banknotes and 5,000 euros in cash deriving from drug dealing.

    On his possession, police found a packet with 1.3 grams of cocaine.

    The suspect will be sent before Heraklion prosecutor, facing charges of drug dealing, illegal possession of weapons and counterfeit banknotes distribution.

    [48] 5R quake jolts Lakonia prefecture

    A moderate earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale jolted Lakonia prefecture, southern Greece, early Tuesday but no damage was immediatley reported.

    The earthquake, which was felt as far as Athens, was recorded at 6.36 a.m., with its epiicentre in the sea region off Neapolis and an epicentral depth of 10 kilometers

    Geology professor Efthymios Lekkas told ANA-MPA that the quake was normal for the region, located near the southern Peloponese arch.

    Weather forecast

    [49] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-6 beaufort.

    Temperatures between 6C and 23C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 11C and 22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 11C and 18C.

    [50] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: "National misadventure...".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Panic over the banks!".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Pardon-paper for the grey loans".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "National Bank-Eurobank merger postponement causes turbulence in government".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The new landscape in banks for depositors and shareholders".

    ELLADA AVRIO: "Golden boys' cartel sank us".

    ESTIA: "Margaret Thatcher made history".

    ETHNOS: "All buildings lacking permits constructed before 1975 to be legalised".

    IMERISSIA: "On a tight rope".

    KATHIMERINI: "The next moves in the banking sector".

    LOGOS: "Cracks in the banking system".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Wound to social security funds' portfolios".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "PAME (Labour organisation affiliated to Communist Party of Greece) calls unions for general strike on May 1".

    TA NEA: "Margaret Thatcher, that bloody woman!".

    VRADYNI: "Arrangement for the old buildings constructed without permits".

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