|Monday, 24 September 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-07-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 5 July 2013 Issue No: 4398
 Progress on all issues with troika, FinMin saysThere is progress on all issues, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with troika officials, the Greek Finance Minister said the meetings with the troika will continue on Friday and Saturday, even on Sunday if necessary.
"We are going towards a political agreement on Monday," Stournaras said.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Administrative Reform Minister, speaking to reporters, said "we will be ready on Monday", adding it was necessary to have a deal on the issue of the public sector. "Let me tell you categorically that there is no issue of raising the number of dismissals, beyond 15,000 agreed by the government," Mitsotakis added.
 Greece optimistic over agreement with troika by SundayThe Greek government on Thursday expressed its optimism that it would reach an agreement with the troika by Sunday, paving the way for a Eurogroup meeting on Monday to approve the disbursement of an 8.1-billion-euro tranche to Greece.
A top Finance Ministry official told ANA-MPA in the early morning hours after a marathon 5.5-hour meeting with the troika, "We expect the approval of the tranche in Monday's Eurogroup".
He said that the tranche will cover the country's needs while he dismissed reports alleging that the country's creditors threatened with a three-month freeze of funding. He underlined there was progress made in negotiations with the troika, noting there was a big reduction of the fiscal gap in the 2013-2014 period. He added that a reform in the public sector would not be an obstacle even if the two sides failed to reach a full agreement. He acknowledged, however, that Greece "is exposed" towards its creditors over this issue.
The ministry official said the government has proposed a total of 22 structural measures to close a gap in the health care system - worth 1.2 billion euros in the 2013-2014 period - adding that these measures "need time to be implemented". The government has also proposed a package of measures to close a gap in OAEE - the self-employed and professionals pension fund - to replace a troika proposal to impose a 0.2 per thousand contribution to companies' turnover. He stressed that there will be no cut in pensions.
The government will submit a new draft bill on Monday, which will include all prior actions demanded by the troika.
 German FM: 'We think Greece will make it'Greece is standing stable and this stability creates the necessary conditions for growth, said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday at a meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the Maximos Mansion also attended by government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
"As you know, we are in the middle of a lot of political and geopolitical turmoil in the region. But within this difficult circumstance, Greece is standing stable," Samaras said. "And this is very important, if you go back and think about it, a year ago who would have thought so? But the situation is in many ways alarming in terms of what is going on around the world and we hope things will get better. And this stability serves to create the necessary conditions for what we all want, just growth."
The PM also thanked Westerwelle for visiting and "for being a friend of Greece."
In his response, Westerwelle thanked Samaras for the invitation and hospitality and said, "My message is a message of respect, solidarity and encouragement. I think the ship starts when you are at coast, the sails are set into development in Greece, which will bring more prosperity in the future to the people of the country. That's the reason why we are here, to express our solidarity, to send a message of encouragement and that we think that Greece will make it."
Samaras referred to the meeting of Labour ministers in Berlin to deal with youth unemployment, which he attended on Wednesday, and said "I think it went very well. It' s a discussion that will continue in Paris later, so we are really focusing on this and that' s important also."
 Greece is on the road to success, Schaeuble saysThe government of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has achieved "remarkable progress" with regard to economic reforms, Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday, the AFP and Reuters reported. He added that such progress was demonstrated by the verified economic data from Greece.
The German minister said that he was "deeply convinced" that troika's report on the progress of reforms in Greece - which is expected to be presented to eurozone finance ministers at their meeting in Brussels on Monday - will be positive.
In addition, Schaeuble expressed his belief that Greece "is on the road to success" and would "continue to this direction."
 PASOK party leader holds meeting with troika headsGovernment Vice President, Foreign Minister and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos considers "unfair for Greece and the Greeks, who are making many efforts for an exit from the crisis, the impression being created every time the troika visits Greece, as only the open issues and the problems are highlighted."
Venizelos pointed this out during his meeting with the heads of the troika on Thursday evening, during which an inspection was made of the point where the discussions with all the individual ministries are.
According to an informal briefing by PASOK's office, "Mr. Venizelos stressed the need for the visits of the troika to function so that the country's big achievements are highlighted and the prospects that Greece has now for a final exit from the crisis and for regaining its position in Europe and the eurozone and not only the open issues and the problems being highlighted, which, as they are repeated many times, create an unfair impression and do not contribute to the encouragement of Greek society, that expects recognition of its sacrifices and tangible samples of growth".
Venizelos also insisted "on the fundamental position that neither the economy nor society can stand new fiscal measures and during the discussion an issue of new fiscal measures was not raised".
Before his meeting with the troika, Venizelos held a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
 PASOK spokesman: No new fiscal measuresBoth the government and PASOK have made it clear that there can be no new fiscal measures, PASOK deputy and party spokesman Odysseas Konstantinopoulos told ANA-MPA Thursday.
"On the other hand, we must proceed to reforms speedily, because without reforms we will not be able to make this great effort materialize," he warned.
Konstantopoulos said that the new policy agreement between main New Democracy (ND) and coalition partner PASOK "must not be based on our wants, but should be realistic and specialized."
In terms of relations between the two parties, he said that "collaboration is being evaluated on a daily basis, by everyone. We neither want to surprise anyone nor to be surprised by anyone."
The party spokesman said that "the restructuring of the public sector must move along. We have been slow in this sector, but in the near future we have to be decisive, to push this great reconstruction of the public sector."
(Konstantopoulos' full interview is available to ANA-MPA subscribers online.)
 Venizelos on official Cyprus visit on FridayGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will pay on Friday his first official visit to Cyprus since his appointment to his new post.
Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiadis will receive Venizelos, who will also meet with parliament president Yannis Omirou, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulidis and party leaders.
In the framework of his visit, Venizelos will be also be received by Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II.
 Public Order min concludes London visitLONDON (ANA-MPA/I. Karipidis)
Issues pertaining to immigration and public safety were the focus of a three-day official visit here by Greece's Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Dendias, which ended Thursday.
Dendias met among others with Home Secretary Theresa May Minister of State for Immigration, Mark Harper and Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz.
Before departing for Greece, Dendias told the ANA-MPA that he was very satisfied with the results of his visit to the United Kingdom. However, he stressed that Greece disagreed with all European Union member states, excluding Malta, on the Dublin III arrangements and no longer intended to vote for them, as it does not want to be responsible for handling asylum issues of all illegal immigrants entering the EU through Greece.
 Public tv broadcasts restart may be 'a matter of hours', minister to radioThe restart of public broadcasting could be a matter of hours, according to Pantelis Kapsis, deputy minister for public radio and television, speaking at the Vima radio station on Thursday.
During an interview, Kapsis said that he was still in talks with the former public broadcaster ERT personnel, the majority of whom he believed wanted to find an agreeable solution, but "time is running out" because of "the well-known trade unionist and political inflexibility."
Kapsis said that a draft law was being promoted in Parliament related to the staff's layoff compensation that would be calculated on the basis of the unified wage scale.
 Draft bill on new public broadcaster tabled in parliamentA draft bill was tabled in parliament on Thursday evening on the establishment of the new state broadcasting corporation to replace ERT, the former state radio and television recently shut down by the government.
The new public company to be owned and supervised by the state will be named NERIT SA (New Greek Internet Radio and Television), and will be administratively and financially independent.
Broadcasts will include a variety of objective and comprehensive news programmes, ensuring pluralist debate and covering all political views; they will seek social cohesion, highlight Greek culture and intellectual and artistic creation, preserve the quality of the Greek language and facilitate access to persons with hearing and vision problems.
As referred to in the bill, upon the recommendation of the Board, the Supervisory Board shall prepare the company's 10-year strategic plan, while the initial share capital is set at five (5) million euros. Revenues will come from fees (levied via electricity bills), advertising and other sources. ?
 Party funding control to be given over to independent committee, ministerThe government plans to remove supervision of political party-related funding from Parliament's jurisdiction, according to Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis.
Responding to main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP Maria Yiannakaki, Michelakis said the issue is important enough to be raised in the revision of the constitution, while Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has ordered a legislative initiative on party funding.
He said the government put emphasis on the in-depth review of the "source of wealth" (known as "pothen esches") statements of political personages, and was thinking of turning the task over to a special body consisting of judges from the top three courts of Greece.
Another issue being promoted, Michelakis said, is including financial crimes committed by ministers under the law related to embezzler of public funds.
Yiannakaki called on the government to activate the recommendations of the GRECO Committee of the European Commission, which had made 16 recommendations with an accompanying timeline for their application.
 Three parties to recommend prosecution of former finance minister over so-called Lagarde issueThree parties represented on the preliminary investigating committee are expected to find former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou liable for prosecution in the so-called Lagarde issue in the report they will present to Parliament President Vangelis Meimarakis Thursday.
The three committee representatives - from main New Democracy party, coalition partner PASOK and former coalition partner Democratic Left, or DIMAR - called Papaconstantinou on breach of trust, document falsification and breach of duty in the Lagade issue, which concerns possible tax evasion by Greek bank depositors abroad.
Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) did not want to be included in the recommendation to be submitted, charging that no draft recommendation was presented to the committee to give members a chance for discussion. Committee chairman Christos Markogiannakis told the press he ended the committee's last session on Thursday after SYRIZA deputies started calling him names, including "perjurer" and "prosecutor of the junta".
 ANEL wants investigation into liability of former PMs, Venizelos over Lagarde issueThe Independent Greeks (Anexartiti Ellines, or ANEL) party has proposed that former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou be criminally prosecuted over his liability in the so-called Lagarde list issue, on chages that include document falsifiation, breach of trust and collaboration in tax evasion.
ANEL also called for a special investigative committee to be set up by Parliament to look into the liabilities of PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, during his tenure as Finance Minister, and former Prime Ministers George Papandreou and Lucas Papademos.
The preliminary investigative committee of Parliament concluded its work today and planned to submit its conclusions Thursday which were voted on by a majority consisting of representatives from New Democracy, PASOK and the Democratic Left (DIMAR). It found Papaconstantinou liable for criminal prosecution on several charges, including breach of trust and falsification of documents.
 Health Ministry calls for investigation into press reports on ANEL party leaderThe Greek tax service, the financial crimes prosecutor and Parliament's "source of income" (pothen esches) committee must take immediate action to investigate reports in the daily Ta Nea published Thursday that allege the family of Independent Greeks (Anexartiti Ellines, or ANEL) party leader Panos Kammenos is involved in an offshore company, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said the same day.
Prompted by the publication, Georgiadis said, "All law provisions must be applied, finally....Whatever Kammenos kept saying all these years about his fighting offshore companies was a lie."
 Doctors are part of the health sector's future, ministerNo change in the health sector can succeed without the collaboration of doctors, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said after a meeting with the president of the Athens Medical Association, Giorgos Patoulis, on Thursday.
"I just have a simple message," Georgiadis said, "We cannot succeed without doctors' collaboration. We respect doctors - they are the direct suppliers of health, they are our colleagues and we depend on them to move the health sector forward."
 SYRIZA-EKM condemns new tax draft billMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM) on Thursday condemned the new tax draft bill saying that it is based on "the known recipe of unfairness and ineffectiveness".
An announcement by the party's economic policy sector underlined that "the government follows the same tactic of injustice, sloppiness and ineffectiveness, characterizing the memorandum taxation policy".
According to SYRIZA-EKM, "the suggested draft bill which, according to ministry of finance sources has not been finalized yet, includes new burdens for wage earners, increased taxation for small and medium incomes, reduced taxation for large incomes and many other anti-popular measures".
SYRIZA-EKM underlined the need for a taxation policy that will ensure taxation system stability and justice, while combating tax evasion.
 SYRIZA deputy Tatsopoulos sees positively a cooperation with patriotic ND and social democrats, on conditionsMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP Petros Tatsopoulos on Thursday did not rule out a post-election cooperation between his party and New Democracy (ND) or PASOK cadres.
Speaking in private radio Vima FM, he said that "if there are no political powers to cooperate with - whether they are called DIMAR (Democratic Left), whatever form it is in at that point, or from the Left or from the patriotic Right - for me it wouldn't be a taboo to cooperate with New Democracy (ND) patriots. For most of my comprades, it would be a taboo, and you can curse me for it, but it would not be a taboo for me to collaborate with a section of social democracy expressed through PASOK".
 Government spokesman replies to statements by SYRIZA cadresGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a statement on Thursday, referring to statements by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) cadres, "one of their deputies is dreaming of a coup. Their leader is living in a permanent persecution syndrome and is dreaming of civil wars. They are sliding even lower every day".
 SYRIZA deputy count rises to 72 as independent MP joins partyFormer independent MP Ioannis Michelogiannakis is now a deputy of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), bringing the number of its MPs to 72 as of Thursday, according to a letter by party leader Alexis Tsipras read in Parliament's plenum session on Thursday.
Michelogiannakis had been elected MP under the Democratic Left (DIMAR) party, which he subsequently left to become independent.
 SYRIZA leader addresses Patra public gathering"SYRIZA is the power of hope for a better tomorrow," main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras told an open political rally in the Peloponnese city of Patra on Thursday evening. He added: "we plan to rebuild Greece on solid foundations of social justice, meritocracy, democracy and prosperity."
Outlining SYRIZA plans, Tsipras said "we know how to support the weakest, those are gradually pushed into poverty, the unemployed, families which cannot meet basic needs and hundreds of thousands of indebted households." He emphasized that SYRIZA has a plan for a fair and transparent tax system that will take from the rich, not from the poor.
Commenting on Tsipras's speech, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that by "plans that exist but are not revealed" and by "money that will be found" somehow, the main opposition leader once again proved not only his ineffectiveness but also his recklessness.
 KKE's Koutsoumbas says EU frenemies' alliance responsible for the ordeal of the self-employedOpposition Communist Party (KKE) Central Committee general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Thursday said the course of the self-employed in the country was predetermined.
After meeting with the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) board, he said that responsible for this is "the capitalist economic crisis that has accelerated the process and has made the problems more acute, but most of all, our accession into the EU frenemies' alliance, as well as the gigantic size of the monopolies and the policies followed by all the governments that have ruled the country".
Koutsoumbas said that the people should form a great social alliance, a popular alliance, against the "rotten capitalist system that breeds monopolies and cruel measures targeting the self-employed and all the Greek people".
 KKE party on Snowden caseThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Thursday on the Snowden case, stressed that "the refusal of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy to allow the use of their air space and refuelling of Bolivia's presidential aircraft, putting its safety at danger, by invoking initially 'technical problems', as well as the investigations ultimately carried out by the Austrian authorities, to ascertain whether the former employee of the secret services of former technical contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden was on board the aircraft, constitute unacceptable and provocative acts".
The announcement added that "it is a development that reveals that the EU and its governments, amidst the intensification of competition between capitalist countries, and in order to serve their own interests, brush aside pretexts, diplomatic protocols and international treaties".
Lastly, it said "the competition, the electronic espionage and spying on each other are also aspects of capitalist exploitation, the dictatorship of monopolies which people must struggle to overturn."
 Alternate FinMin presents economic data of Greek defence industriesAlternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, addressing Parliament on Thursday, indicated that the restructuring and reorganising of defence industries constitute a one-way path for the government.
Staikouras described the situation in the Greek defence industries as "a reality that necessitates, further and above memorandums and economic policy programmes, the immediate, adequate and sustainable tackling of problems and not their concealing under the rug and referring the to the future".
The minister added that "the restructuring of the specific industries constitutes a one-way path, for both the present and the future of the companies and the working people, and of course for the safeguarding of public interest as well".
According to data presented in Parliament by Staikouras, the Greek Defence Systems are presenting prolonged loss-making activity, a decrease in turnover of 38 percent over the past years, negative own capital totalling 538 million euros and short and longterm commitments exceeding 1.1 billion euros.
The Hellenic Vehicles Industry had a pre-tax decrease amounting to 23 million euros on 2011, a decrease in turnover of 91 percent in the past years, own capital 77 million euros and total commitments amounting to 11 million euros.
The Hellenic Aerospace Industry had a pre-tax decrease of 27 million euros in 2011, a decrease in turnover of 11 percent in the past years, negative own capital totalling 277 million euros and short and longterm commitments amounting to 1.2 billion euros.
The issue was discussed in Parliament following a question tabled by Democratic Left deputy Vassilis Economou, who said that he accepts the data on the gloomy state of the Greek defence industries, but called on the government to send the administrations that led the three companies there to the prosecutor.
 Council of State rules constitutional and legal decree on rallies and gatheringsThe Council of State ruled that Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias's draft Presidential Decree arranging preconditions under which public gatherings and rallies will be carried out is constitutional and legal.
The controversial draft decree anticipates that gatherings will be carried out in a way that traffic and the city's social and economic life will not be upset, except to the extent that is absolutely necessary. In cities having a population exceeding one hundred thousand inhabitants the occupation of the entire street is not permitted as well as the complete stoppage of traffic by very small rallies "in relation to the importance of the specific street for serving the city's traffic and social and economic life".
 Former PM on fiscal transactions taxFormer prime minister and Socialist International president George Papandreou, in a statement on Thursday termed as "a decisive step of great political importance" the ratification by the European Parliament, and with a big majority, the report by vice president Anny Podimata on the imposition of a tax on fiscal transactions.
This issue had been processed by a relevant Committee of the Socialist International and Papandreou had raised it at EU organs, during his premiership tenure and Podimata raised it at the European Parliament.
Papandreou said the effort must be continued in two directions: "Firstly to the leaderships of the countries of Europe, so that the final decision can be taken by the European Council as soon as possible for the immediate implementation of the measure, at an initial stage, in the EU's 11 member-states that have accepted it and we hope from the EU's member-states in their entirety soon. Secondly, to leaderships beyond the EU, including the G20, to enable the implementation of the measure to be adopted at international level".
 Deputy FM: No problem reported by Greek community in EgyptDeputy Foreign Minister responsible for Hellenes Abroad Akis Gerontopoulos said on Thursday that "no problem had been reported until now by the Greek community in Egypt....The developments in Egypt are continuing but I reiterate that no problem has been reported by the Greek community".
Gerontopoulos also stressed that government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is "watching closely the developments in Egypt. We are in contact with the Greek community," he added.
 EcoGreens to hold refounding congress Saturday and SundayThe EcoGreens party will hold their refounding congress at Electra Palace in downtown Athens on Saturday and Sunday to set out a new programme and reconstruct the party, which in the 2009 national elections had sent a deputy to the European Parliament.
In an announcement, the party said it wanted to redefine its political priorities, especially in view of the crisis and the European Parliament elections in 2014.
 PAME rally at Syntagma Square on July 11PAME, the Communist Party of Greece-affiliated labour union, will hold a rally at 8:00 p.m. at central Syntagma Square on Thursday, July 11. The action was called by the union's Attica Prefecture branch, with participants coming from throughout Attica.
 Norwegian company completes seismological research for oil, gas in Greek watersThe Ionian Sea and the area south of the island of Crete are promising in terms of hydrocarbon research, Norwegian-based PGS said on Thursday in a preliminary assessment of its seismological exploration in these areas.
PGS presented the fast-track results at the Environment Ministry, where company representatives said a report on the in-depth processing of the data collected would be ready between December 2013 and January 2014.
The company said its purpose was to understand the structure of the seabed and locate oil beds ahead of the state's initiating a tendering for research expected in mid-2014, to give oil companies data to decide whether they were interested in conducting further research for oil and gas, and whether it would be in their interest to submit tenders for drilling licences.
PGS has covered 12,500 kms of seismic lines, while another 6,000 km have been covered in previous explorations.
The state did not provide funds for the research, but it will receive betweem 10 and 50 percent of PGS's revenues from the sale of data to oil companies, depending on the volume of data made available.
 Greece expects 11 bln euros in revenues from two oil exploration contractsThe Greek government on Thursday awarded exploration and exploitation rights of hydro-carbon fields in Ioannina and the Patras Gulf, with estimated oil reserves of around 250-280 million barrels.
The Environment, Energy and Climate Change Ministy, in a statement said that its evaluation commission, after completing its assessment on all bids submitted in the tender, unanimously agreed that Energean Oil and Gas/Petra will be awarded the land region of Ioannina, while Hellenic Petroleum/Edi-son/Petroceltic will be awarded the off shore region of the Patras Gulf.
Evaluation of another tender for the off shore region of Katakolo will continue with results expected in the next few days or weeks.
The ministry estimates that oil reserves in the Patras field are around 200 million barrels, in the Ioannina field 50-80 million barrels and in the Katakolo field around 3.0 million barrels. Estimated revenues from the two fields awarded are around 11 billion euros in a period of 25 years.
 Tourism Ministry launches online campaign to raise awareness about the importance of tourismThe new Tourism Ministry's communications campaign to promote the importance of tourism to Greeks in the tourism sector and the general public, "Greece, the richest country in the world," was presented Thursday by Minister Olga Kefalogianni.
Kefalogianni said this would be a good year for tourism but warned that "good years are not given, they come again and again with a lot of effort, planning, and persistence, and group work.
She encouraged Greeks to "show our best self, prove our love for our country, remind visitors how welcoming we are, advertise our professionalism and promote Greece's treasure in values, history and memories" and noted that "the brand name 'Greece' is very powerful, and will survive any crisis."
The campaign consists of four videos that will be gradually uploaded online and show up in electronic media, in an attempt to raise public consciousness and attract a greater number of tourists to Greece.
 Health Minister Georgiadis welcomes LILLY-Vianex pharmaceutical dealHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Thursday welcomed a deal reached between global pharmaceutical company LILLY and leading pharmaceutical company in Greece Vianex S.A. and expressed determination for quick decisions in the sector of health without surprises and with clear-cut rules for all, that will be fairly implemented, to lead the country to a better future.
Referring to the deal, under which Vianex S.A. will undertake part of the LILLY pharmaceutical production destined for third countries, Georgiadis said "this is what Greece should be like. A strong country that can produce goods that are international market winners," noting that "we should break free from the misery of the past few years and realize that our fate is to conquer the world".
Vianex S.A. vice-president and alternate CEO Dimitris Giannacopoulos announced that the agreement reached concerns the production of 10 million injection vials of an antibiotic used to treat hospital-acquired infections to be exported to China, noting that it constitutes an immediate investment of 1.5 million euros and will create 130 job positions.
Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Pharmaceutical Forum Team (EPhForT) president Dionisis Filiotis pointed out that prospects are great for similar agreements between other Greek pharmaceutical companies and foreign multinationals, noting that such deals are expected to materialize soon.
Referring to the specific deal, he said that in the long-term its intangible benefits will greatly exceed the added value of the largest Vianex turnover in the increase of the GDP and in the creation of new jobs. He added that the know-how that will come to the country and the impact of the investment will constitute a model for the development of the Greek industry and its benefits will be immeasurable.
The event was also addressed by LILLY S.A.C.I. executive Alan Keleher, by PHARMASERVE-LILLY S.A.C.I. vice-president and general director Spyros Filiotis and ACCI president Constantine Mihalos.
 Greek banks' interest rates on deposits and loans fell in MayBank interest rates on both new deposits and new loans decreased in May, with the interest rate spread between loan and deposit rates falling by 13 basis points to 3.02 percentage points, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that in the case of deposits the average interest rates on overnight deposits from households and from non-financial corporations remained unchanged in May 2013, at 0.49 percent and 0.44 pct respectively. The average interest rate on deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to one year decreased further by 16 basis points to 4.06 pct. The overall weighted average interest rate on all new deposits decreased by 9 basis points to 2.51 pct.
In the case of loans, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity decreased marginally by 4 basis points, in May 2013, to 14.73 pct. The average interest rate on consumer loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year decreased further by 16 basis points to 7.70 pct.
The average interest rates on corporate loans and loans to sole proprietors without a defined maturity decreased by 4 and 3 basis points to 7.45 pct and 9.96 pct respectively. The average interest rate on corporate loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year decreased by 16 basis points to 7.08 pct for loans up to 250,000 euros, decreased by 32 basis points to 6.13 pct for loans above 250,000 euros and up to 1 million euros, and decreased by 59 basis points at 5.37 pct for loans above 1 million euros.
Finally, the average interest rate on housing loans at a floating rate or with an initial fixation period of up to one year decreased by 24 basis points to 2.84 pct. In May 2013, the overall weighted average interest rate on all new loans to households and corporations significantly decreased by 22 basis points to 5.53 pct.
In May 2013, the average interest rates on outstanding amounts of deposits from households and of deposits from non-financial corporations with an agreed maturity of up to two years decreased further by 11 and 10 basis points to 4.31 pct and 4.06 pct respectively.
The average interest rate on outstanding amounts of housing loans with over five years' maturity decreased by 9 basis points to 3.09 pct. The corresponding rate on corporate loans remained unchanged at 4.67 pct, while the rate on loans to sole proprietors decreased by 5 basis points to 5.98 pct.
 SEB strongly criticizes new tax draft billThe Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) on Thursday strongly criticised a government's new tax draft bill saying it was sloppy, "designed without taking in mind that the economy and enterprises are suffering a deep crisis leading to tens of thousands of business closures and hundreds thousands of unemployment people, undermining the productive web of the country".
SEB, in a report, said that the only positive elemenent of the new tax bill was it was coding income tax regulations aimed at simplifying the system.
The Federation said the new tax bill did not mention development, as the ministry ignored the recommendations of the business world, and transparency was only partially promoted, while complexity was maintained.
SEB also strongly criticized the fact that the government offered only four days for consultations on the new tax bill.
 Tendering on first group of tourist portsTendering for the first group of tourist ports is proceeding to the second stage. The board of the Hellenic State Assets Development Fund (TAIPED) on Thursday approved the 11 investment formations that will continue in the second stage of tendering for the operation, management and exploitation of the first group of tourist ports, that is comprised of the Alimos marina, the tourist anchorage of Nea Epidavros, a part of the port of Hydra and part of the port and of the tourist resort of Poros.
The Tourist Ports Utilisation Project, which is a part of the "Niriides" Project, anticipates the utilisation with the assignment (longterm leasing) of 46 tourist ports that are located all over the country.
 Federation of Northern Greek Industries new board convenesThe new board of trustees of the Federation of Northern Greek Industries met under president Athanassios Savvakis on Thursday.
The board includes executive vice president Yiannis Stavrou; Charilaos Alexopoulos and Dimitris Abatzis, second vice presidents; Constantine Koukountzos, secretary general; Efthymios Efthymiadis, financial overseer; Anastasios Pistiolas, ephor; and Andreas Dimitriou and Constantine Constantinidis, board members.
 Aegean Airlines says international passenger traffic up 23 pct in May-JuneAegean Airlines on Thursday reported a significant increase in international passenger traffic to Greece in the May-June period, the first months of the summer season.
Passenger traffic from abroad grew 23 pct in the two-month period, compared with the same period last year, to 814,546 passengers. Aegean Airlines said this increase reflected an expanding flight schedule on international routes, with the addition of 32 new flights, and further development of its activities in the country's main regional airports.
The Athens base reported a 15 pct increase in passenger traffic, the Thessaloniki reported a 23 pct rise, Heraclion, Crete, a 34 pct increase, Rhodes a 40 pct jump, Corfu was 19 pct higher, Kos was up 155 pct (new base) and Kalamata up 274 pct) new base.
Aegean Airlines has 160 international flights this summer, more than any other year. "A reversal of climate for Greece, the acknowledgement of our quality, our new routes offer a strong positive dynamism to our international network for this year," Dimitris Gerogiannis, Aegean Airlines' chief executive said.
 Alliance against the opening of stores on SundaysTrade unions representing professionals, merchants and employees on Thursday decided to join an alliance to oppose the extension of store hours to Sunday.
Representatives of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE), the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) and the federation of store employees OIYE called on the government to avert any discussion in parliament concerning the operation of private stores on Sundays, which is one of the issues on the agenda of the discussions held by the Development Ministry with the troika.
In the meeting the union representatives exchanged views on the impact of such a move on the economy, employment and social cohesion, expressing their disagreement with the Ministry's draft plan publicised in December that allows the optional opening of smaller stores on Sundays.
 ADEX closing reportThe July contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.51 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 11.671 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,308 contracts worth 8.910 million euros, with 48,754 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,708 contracts worth 2.761 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,536), followed by Alpha Bank (1,608), Eurobank (1,540), OTE (985), PPC (846), MIG (151), OPAP (158), Mytilineos (139), Ellaktor (148), GEK (275), Intralot (510) and Jumbo (116).
 Greek stocks end moderately higherGreek stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, in very thin trading conditions as investors waited on the sidelines ahead of the outcome of negotiations between Greek authorities and the troika. Bank shares came under strong selling pressure but the market found support in gains recorded by Coca Cola HBC, PPC and OPAP. The composite index of the market rose 0.35 pct to end at 821.86 points, off the day's highs of 833 points. Turnover shrank to 28.32 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.54 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 4.93 pct lower. MIG (6.64 pct), Intralot (3.23 pct), Frigoglass (2.71 pct) and Coca Cola HBC (2.29 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (7.27 pct), Alpha Bank (2.12 pct) and Piraeus Bank (2.07 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Food (2.23 pct), Financial Services (2.21 pct) and Travel (1.98 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (5.78 pct), Health (0.82 pct) and Technology (0.79 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 63 to 55 with another 17 issues unchanged. Douros (19.8 pct), Compucon (19.57 pct) and Boutaris (18.37 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobank (29.12 pct), Perseus (19.55 pct) and Alko (16.38 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.42%
Personal & Household: +0.07%
Raw Materials: +1.24%
Travel & Leisure: +1.98%
Food & Beverages: +2.23%
Health: -0.82% Utilities: +1.28%
Financial Services: +2.21%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.416
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.59
HBC Coca Cola: 19.23
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.84
National Bank of Greece: 2.04
Eurobank Properties : 7.04
Piraeus Bank: 0.90
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 9.81 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 9.87 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 11.44 pct and the German Bund 1.63 pct. Turnover was a thin 6.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. the 12-month rate was 0.53 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.44 pct, the six-month rate was 0.34 pct, the three-month rate was 0.22 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.317
Pound sterling 0.872
Danish kroner 7.572
Swedish kroner 8.838
Japanese yen 131.58
Swiss franc 1.251
Norwegian kroner 8.054
Canadian dollar 1.389
Australian dollar 1.445
 UN High Commissioner for Refugees office in Athens celebrates new regional officeThe UN High Commissioner for Refugees staff provided a briefing on new developments in the process of asylum-seeking and on the operation of its new regional office during a press conference at the ESIEA press union building in Athens.
Head of office in Greece, Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, said the opening of the regional office for asylum applications of Attica on June 7 was a critical event, as the new state service of asylum seekers that opened recently and the new legislation related to application processing were signs of a specially positive development to a just and effective system of asylum in Greece.
Representatives of the UN commission in Greece also presented the international organisation's position on processing asylum seekers and on issues raised by unescorted children applying for asylum.
They also mentioned the increasing incidence of violence, saying that the existing legislation was poorly applied and inadequate in protecting victims and prosecuting perpetrators, as well as in investigating reports of police violence.
 President Papoulias receives Greek diaspora parliamentariansPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIA) board comprising parliamentarians and senators of Greek descent elected abroad.
Addressing them, President Papoulias said that "you can convey the real picture of Greece to the political parties you belong to and represent in the parliaments to which you are elected. You can use your leverage for the implementation of certain things that are fair for this country".
On his part, WHIA president Yiannis Pantazopoulos said that they always help in promoting issues of national interest and referring to the economic crisis in Greece, he noted that the country "needs economic growth and the truth is that it has changed and will continue to do so".
 Czech university professors and students on Preveza summer programmeThe small peninsula of Agios Thomas in Agii Apostoloi, Preveza prefecture in western Greece, has become a "classroom" for Czech students and their professors who have chosen nature as the background for environmental courses combining research with holidays.
The first time professors from the Silesian University in Opava visited the area was 20 years ago and they have been returning to the area annually ever since, camping in the area and teaching the students accompanying them.
They say they are impressed with the local nature because each time they visit they discover something new. They are mostly engaged in recording new orchid varieties and watching a unique insect in Greece found only in the region of Agii Apostoloi called "kirokefali Prevezana".
Czech scientists played a major role in the creation of the Museum of Natural History in Neochorio after they discovered a paleolithic settlement, part of a mammoth tusk and several other findings currently on display.
 Career opportunity event hosted in Thessaloniki by the University of MacedoniaPrivate firms active in Greece and abroad are scouting for young people with graduate and postgraduate degrees in marketing, business management, computer science, accounting and Balkan Studies, based on the fact that 42 local firms and multinationals have expressed interest in participating in a job interview event hosted by the University of Macedonia (UoM) in Thessaloniki.
The two-day event was launched on Thursday and each of the 280 job candidates can go through at least three 15-minute interviews.
Companies are interested in covering immediate needs in terms of personnel, as well as future needs in Thessaloniki and other cities in Greece and abroad, UoM Career Office head Sophia Panagiotidou told ANA-MPA.
The title of the two-day event, "Admission Is Possible", paraphrases the title of the popular film "Mission Impossible" to underline that there are still opportunities to find jobs and remain in the job market despite the rising unemployment, especially among young scientists.
 Freighters collide near Andros, no injuries reportedTwo Greek-owned freighters, the Malta-flagged Catherine and Panama-flagged Baru Satu collided late Wednesday in the sea region off Andros, the northernmost island of the Cyclades.
No injuries were reported from the collision, but 9 of the 23 crew members of Catherine were sent for precautionary reasons to the nearby hospital of the port of Karystos, Evia.
The two ships remain stuck and immobilised.
Three Coast Guard vessels remain in the area as well as two other ships to offer assistance. The reasons of the collision have not been yet clarified.
The Catherine was loaded with iron had sailed from Novorosisk, Black Sea, and was heading for Italy, while the Baru Satu had left from Piraeus port with a sugar cargo and was on its way to Bulgaria.
 Missing fisherman found drowned in Volvi LakeA fisherman that was missing from Wednesday was found dead in the waters of Volvi Lake, in the northern Halkidiki peninsula, on Thursday morning by rescue team divers.
According to authorities the 65 year-old fisherman had gone fishing with a 59-year-old man when their boat overturned. The 59 year-old was rescued by another fisherman and was sent to a Thessaloniki hospital.
The older man was not found until early Thursday morning.
 Series of explosions at Kavala prefecture buildingA series of explosions were reported at 1:30 a.m. at the uncovered areas of the first and ground floors of the building housing the prefecture of Kavala.
Damages to Prefecture of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace's parked cars were reported while windows were smashed and aircondition units were destroyed.
Police and eyewitnesses said a small group of hooded individuals was hanging around the areas on Wednesday night and may be connected to the explosions.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 15C and 32C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 18C and 32C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 18C and 30C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Lies end for government and troika.
DIMOKRATIA: At last! What more does the troika want?
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: They toppled President of Egypt Mohammed Morsi.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: The tanks 'ran over' Morsi.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Reserve labour for six months and then... layoffs.
ELLADA AVRIO: Foreclosures unfrozen.
ESTIA: Bureaucracy destroyed the country.
ETHNOS: Energy treasure in 4 areas.
IMERISSIA: Troika in Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) on Thursday, painful decisions for public sector.
KATHIMERINI: Army's intervention in Egypt.
LOGOS: Troika to government: Close all pending issues or you will receive the tranche in installments.
NAFTEMPORIKI: The crisis threat returns for Greece and Portugal.
RIZOSPASTIS: Communist Party of Greece-affiliated labour union PAME to rally on July 11 in Athens.
TA NEA: Brussels' messages for public sector and Berlin's signs to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
VRADYNI: State broadcaster ERT-style layoffs.
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