|Friday, 21 September 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-07-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 10 July 2013 Issue No: 4402
 FinMin omnibus bill tabled in ParliamentAn omnibus draft bill prepared by the Greek finance ministry and containing all prerequisites, agreed with the country's EC-ECB-IMF troika of lenders, for the disbursement of a 6.8 billion euros of financial aid to Greece by next October, was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday evening.
A Eurogroup meeting on Monday agreed to make staggered payments of its financial aid to Greece.
The omnibus draft bill relates to reforms in the labour, economic and administrative sectors.
The process to set the level of the minimum wage will begin in the last ten days of February each year, as of 2017 as provided for in the omnibus bill. The process will be completed in the last fortnight of June, following the proposals forwarded to the Cabinet by the Labour Minister, having considered the outcome of consultations between employers and employees. The Cabinet will then adopt the decision which will define the minimum salary of employees and minimum wage of labourers.
The above process will follow the consultations between the social partners (employers and employees) and the Government, with technical and scientific support in economic issues, labour economics, social policy and industrial relations.
 Greek FinMin expresses satisfaction over Eurogroup decisionsGreek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras expressed his satisfaction over the agreement reached during a Eurogroup meeting on Monday that paved the way for the disbursement of the next installments of aid to Greece, saying that disbursement of loans will continue normally in the next months, according to the funding programe.
 Omnibus bill on social security and tax collection systems, administrationThe new omnibus bill envisages the unification of social security and tax collection systems for overdue debts, which will be completed by July 1, 2017.
The integrated collection of overdue debts to all social security funds will be assigned to the Single Social Security Overdue Debt Collection Centre (KEAO) that will be established by the government.
In a first stage, the bill provides for the unification of social security collection systems by all major insurance funds of the country by April 1, 2014.
The integration of the tax and social security contributions collection systems is among the commitments undertaken by the government in its rescue loan contract with the EC-ECB-IMF troika of lenders.
The bill also allows for the abolition of job positions, as well as sectors or specialties at ministries, independent public services, decentralised departments, local government of first and second level and legal entities of public law. At the same time, the bill provides for the establishment of new job positions.
The abolition or establishment of positions will be effected by decision of the minister of Administrative Reform and the minister involved, following documentation based on assessment reports and staffing plans.
The selection of public servants to be suspended following the abolition of their job position will be carried out following an assessment and rating of their typical and essential qualifi-cations.
 Greek FinMin expresses satisfaction over Eurogroup decisionsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras expressed his satisfaction over the agreement reached during a Eurogroup meeting on Monday that paved the way for the disbursement of the next installments of aid to Greece, saying that disbursement of loans will continue normally in the next months, according to the funding programe.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Finance Minister said disbursement of the next loan installment, worth 6.8 billion euros, will be made partially. In July, the country's creditors will disburse a tranche of 4.0 billion euros, of which 2.5 billion will come from EFSF and the remaining 1.5 billion euros from the return of earnings made through a Greek bond buy-back programe. A disbursement of an instalment of 1.8 billion euros from the IMF is expected in August, while the disbursement of an instalment of 1.0 billion euros is expected in October (500 million from EFSF and 500 million from a Greek bond buy-back programe).
The Greek minister noted that a precondition for the disbursement of the July instalment was for the Greek Parliament to have ratified by July 19 an omni-bill including a reform in tax administration, covering a fiscal gap and including privatizations and measures for the reform of the health sector and the financial sector.
Stournaras said that prior actions needed to be implemented by the end of September are four: restructuring of Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO), Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS) and Larco, repayment of state debt to Athens Water (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki Water (EYATh), inclusion of 12,500 civil servants in a mobility programe and changes in the lawyers' code.
The Finance Minister said there were recommendations for the EFSF to disburse 4.8 billion euros to Greece - 1.8 billion more than the 3.0 billion euros approved - but these were rejected, as this action needed approval by national parliaments. Stournaras said that the issue could be discussed after October, but the exact sum would depend on the primary budget surplus to be presented by Greece.
Stournaras said the agreement reached between Greek authorities with the troika was "difficult" because of the political problem presented in Greece, adding however that the troika's assessment was positive for the country. He said that a fiscal gap created by problems in the health sector was closed, while a new agreement was reached with the troika over mobility of workers in the public sector.
The Finance Minister said the troika will respond in the next 10 days to a Greek demand for the reduction of VAT rate in the tourism/restaurant sector. If the answer is positive, the measure will be implemented from August 1, he added.
Commenting over a possible funding gap in the Greek programme, Stournaras dismissed such a possibility, although he noted that if a funding gap arose it would be dealt with by its creditors, if Greece continued meeting its obligations.
 Dijsselbloem: Greece has made an impressive recoveryBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Greece is gradually exiting the crisis, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Tuesday, given that the state budget is executed satisfactorily, the economy is recovering and expectations for growth in 2014 exist.
In his statements, Dijsselbloem noted that we talking about an impressive recovery but further reforms will be necessary.
According to the Eurogroup chief, the reforms will be difficult and demanding but necessary for the economy's modernisation and in order for Greece to become more competitive.
Finally, he expressed his optimism that Greece will exit the crisis under structural conditions.
 IMF's Lagarde 'impressed by Greece' in CNBC interviewWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christince Lagarde said she was "impressed" by Greece's efforts to "restore the financial situation" in an interview with the U.S. television network CNBC.
During the Monday interview, Lagarde stressed the efforts at reform and noted that the country could well have achieved a primary surplus by the end of the year, though much still remained to be done to reform the economy, especially with the taxation system and tax authorities, privatisations and public-sector reform.
 Eurogroup decision affected by upcoming German elections, MEP Koumoutsakos tells ANA-MPAThe Eurogroup's decision regarding the release of funding for Greece was "coloured" by the upcoming elections in Germany and should be considered "satisfactory given the circumstances," European Parliament deputy for New Democracy George Koumoutsakos suggested in an interview with the ANA-MPA on Tuesday.
"It is an unfortunate coincidence that this precise moment that is so critical for Greece should coincide with the last stages of the pre-election period in Germany and this is reflected in the Eurogroup's decision," he said.
Commenting on the Eurogroup's decision for a reduced loan tranche that will be disbursed in installments, Koumoutsakos noted that Greece's fiscal consolidation programme had reached "that crucial stage in great and radical reform decisions" and was "at the most difficult point of the country's four-year tough and painful course toward exiting the crisis."
The fact that this coincided with the German elections was an unfortunate coincidence, while the Eurogroup had also noted the progress being made," he added.
Asked whether the decision could be considered satisfactory in light of the country's needs, the MEP said that the country would be able to move ahead, albeit in difficult waters, if the 'gap' in funding was covered.
Regarding the impact of the decision to release 6.8 billion euros - instead of the 8.1 billion euros originally expected - on Greece's credibility, Koumoutsakos repeated his position that it was due to unlucky "timing".
"No one can rule out, however, that if we proceed as we must with reforms that the country in any case needs, that these decisions may then be changed for the better," he added.
 Greece's funding necessary, but yielding to troika pressure not, DIMARContinuing the funding of Greece is necessary, but yielding to pressure to lay off staff in the civil service, downgrade labor rights and expanding taxation will worsen the plight of society, Democratic Left (DIMAR) party said on Tuesday, in response to the Eurogroup decisions on loan tranche disbursements to Greece.
"Yielding to pressure by the troika sustains the fiscal adjustment programme's and the economic policy's errors and objectively leads to new measures instituted to the detriment of wage earners and pensioners," DIMAR said, calling on the promotion of "fundamental reforms that will modernise the state and fight tax evasion and waste of public revenues."
DIMAR also said that party leader Fotis Kouvelis will give a press conference at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the Macedonia Palace hotel in Thessaloniki.
 New loan tranche will 'line pockets of the rich', KKE chargesThe Eurogroup's decision on loan disbursements to Greece, like the previous tranches, "will be forwarded to the pockets of business groups, industrialists, shipowners and bankers and towards covering the debts and the deficit that were not created by the people but by the capitalistic way of growth and its crisis," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) charged in an announcement on Tuesday.
"The people and the workers will be again called to pay a high price for the capital's loans with layoffs in public and private sector, new tax storm to their incomes and new reforms in health and welfare," it said, adding that "production potentials and wealth exist - if the people decide to take them their hands by socialising the business groups, they can satisfy the popular needs."
 President Papoulias visited WWII concentration camps in PolandHellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday wrapped up his two-day official visit to Poland by paying homage to the victims of Nazi atrocities in WWII, who perished in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau near Krakow.
President Papoulias laid a wreath at the victims' monument in Auschwitz and visited the crematorium where he signed the visitors' book, writing: "I honour with my presence the thousands of Nazi atrocity victims. Among them thousands of Greeks".
The president condemned Nazi sympathizers, saying that "those who deny this great sacrifice of thousands of European citizens cannot be part of the European family. We should keep the memory alive of what we saw today, because only this way we will be ready to deal with a possible new charge of anti-democratic forces".
In Birkenau, President Papoulias stood, filled with emotion, before the wall where the names of Nazi victims are engraved, saying that he paid homage to the Greek Jews who also perished there.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, President Papoulias departed for Athens.
 Venizelos to represent Greece in UN general assembly opening Sept. 24NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)
Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is expected to represent Greece at the opening of the UN's general assembly on September 24. which will be addressed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US president Barack Obama.
Venizelos will have a series of meetings with the heads of foreign delegations and will deliver an address to the 68th general assembly.
Permanent representative of Greece to the UN ambassador Michael Spinellis briefed Greek community media journalists and UN-accredited correspondents on Cyprus and Fyrom that are being discussed within the framework of the global organisation and on issues ahead of the Greek presidency in the European Union in the first six months of 2014.
The permanent Greek delegation of Greece to the UN is expected to develop a series of initiatives regarding the agenda of the Greek presidency while a number of cultural events will be also organised.
Part of the opening events for the general assembly will include three meetings: on "Disability and growth" (September 23), on "Nuclear disarmament" (September 26) and on "Global migration an development" (October 3-4).
 Labour Minister on Wed. in LithuaniaLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis will visit Vilnius, Lithuania, on Wednesday in order to participate in the unofficial meeting of European Labour and Social Affairs Ministers on July 11-12.
Lithuania has just assumed the revolving six-month EU presidency, which Greece will assume next, in January 2014.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras: 'Present government will fall with a bang'The present government will fall "with a bang" and make way for a government with a fresh mandate, one that will abolish memorandum laws "granting immunity to big capital" and protect labour, main opposition SYRIZA-EKM leader Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, while addressing the Halkida Labour Centre on Evia.
In a message to the European countries supporting the austerity policies imposed on Greece, Tsipras warned them that their "pet" politicians would not last much longer.
"Their political time has run out. They cheated the Greek people. They impoverished Greek society. It is the people and not ourselves that will prevent them from completing their work of destruction," he stressed.
SYRIZA's leader said the main opposition party planned to reorganise Greece's productive sector to boost growth - with a focus on the "triangle" between Schimatari, Halkida and Thiva - with factories that were both sustainable and competitive and would allow families to earn a living, rather than speculators to make millions.
Secondly, he outlined planned changes to the legal framework and said the government would demand money owed to the state by entrepreneurs or else allow workers to take over the factories themselves.
Tsipras was strongly critical of developments in the government's negotiations with the EU-IMF troika, accusing them of treating people as if they were statistics and demanding "human sacrifices" in the form of lay-offs that would not help solve financial problems and an exit from the crisis. He also warned that both public-sector and private-sector workers were in the same boat and accused the government of "irrationality".
"The other day I heard the prime minister himself say that those responsible for leading us here were not those who had governed us but those that had not. You, in other words. Soon he will be holding you responsible for having the temerity to live on a decent wage," Tsipras added.
Regarding Greece's soaring public debt, SYRIZA's leader repeated that his party "only recognises a debt to the Greek people to live in dignity and not the debt to international loan sharks," claiming that loans given to Greece went directly to settle debts to its international creditors.
Responding to Tsipras' criticism, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accused him of pandering to the extremist "constituents" within his party ahead of SYRIZA's party conference "but we never expecting him to go so far as to promise a 'soviet' within factories."
 SYRIZA congress begins on WednesdayThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) national congress begins on Wednsday evening after almost a year's internal debates and procedures aiming at becoming a unified party.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras will open the congress with a speech before 3,500 delegates, after addresses by all parliamentary parties are made. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has been invited but has not given an answer yet while the extreme right Golden Dawn party has not been invited.
 DIM.AR sets conditions for supporting government-sponsored draft billsOpposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) executive committee on Tuesday discussed tabling an amendment in Parliament for the withdrawal of a Joint Ministerial Decision (KYA) that closed Greece's public broadcaster ERT. At the same time, DIM.AR suggested that the new broadcaster to be established should be ERT's full successor on all levels, international obligations and contracts.
DIM.AR's stance during the vote in Parliament will depend on the government's disposition towards the suggestions made.
DIM.AR's executive committee will also demand that the omnibus bill, with the prerequisites on the loan tranche disbursement to Greece, should comprise more than one article to get its approval.
DIM.AR also underlined that society's state deteriorates as a result of the pressures exerted by the country's creditors, the direct association between layoffs and the public sector employee mobility scheme, the weakening of labour rights and increased taxation.
 Evaluation of municipalities must proceed, interior minister stresses"It is important for an evaluation of municipality structures to proceed," Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis said on Tuesday, after a meeting with the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE).
"It is certain that in this process, it will be found that some services are overstaffed and that others lack staff. In this case, of course, there will be a transfer of staff to cover needs," the minister said.
The interior ministry, in collaboration with KEDE, is seriously considering the possibility that such transfers will be held in the framework of a 'mobility scheme' that will see 12,500 public-sector staff suspended on reduced pay, until they are either redeployed or laid off, by the end of 2013.
 Admin Reform Ministry releases schedule for civil service staff changesThe number of people obliged to leave the civil sector totals 15,000 over the next two years, according to an agreement reached between the Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance Ministry and the troika.
In an annoucement released Tuesday, the Ministry outlined the points agreed on for a final number of civil service employees that will be placed on a track leading to transfers or layoffs.
A first batch of 12,500 will be placed on the programme by end-September, with 4,200 of these definitely placed by end-July. The 4,200 include educators, school guards and Administrative Reform Ministry employees.
The Ministry also committed itself to speeding up the process of reviewing public service employees charged with serious cases of breach of duty, to maximize the number of layoffs of employees falling under this category.
Commenting on the decision ahead of his new meeting with the Central Union of Greek Municipalities (KEDE) on Tuesday, Administration Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, "We are trying to be as just as we can under the prevailing conditions. If the municipalities had done their work - had they followed their organization charts - we would have been more just."
Speaking to Mega private television station, Mitsotakis acknowledge the decisions were difficult decisions, adding, "However, we have estimated that the country will not collapse if we do not have school guards." He revealed that "when I was appointed Administration Reform Minister, instead of finding the names of 12,500 which was our commitment to the troika I found blank lists. That was the situation when I went to the ministry; three days later, the troika arrived.
Regarding the evaluation criteria to be used for transfers, he said the main one was on what grounds someone came to the public sector, "through the civil servants selection board (ASEP) or not? It is a fair criterion. We aim at meritocracy."
He also clarified that the government would take into account other criteria, such as skills and social criteria.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis met on Tuesday with KEDE. He said the discussion was fruitful and will continue. "Our first priority is the evaluation to proceed," he said.
On his part, union president Costas Askounis reiterated KEDE's disagreement on the transfer or layoffs of school guards and municipal police officers.
 Administrative reform minister meets with ADEDY leadershipAdministrative Reform minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou at noon Tuesday briefed the Executive Committee of the umbrella civil servants' union federation ADEDY on the results of the ministry's talks with the EC-ECB-IMF troika and the agreement achieved as regards the issue of mobility in the public sector.
Mitsotakis invited ADEDY's leadership to a new meeting next week for talks on the draft bill "Organisation of the Public Administration and other other articles".
 Dep. Health Minister Makri visits the National Health Operations CenterDeputy Health Minister Zetta Makri was briefed on the national health system's operational readiness during her visit to the National Health Operations Center (EKEPY) on Tuesday.
The deputy health minister was briefed on EKEPY's interaction with all health services available in Greece and abroad, on the procedures followed when handling serious public health incidents, as well as, on emergency situation responses.
Issues concerning hospital operation and the auxiliary National Health System (ESY) structures were also examined.
 FM Venizelos meets with Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria and All AfricaThe deep crisis in Egypt and Greece's solidarity to its people were the focus of a meeting between government Vice President and Foreign Minister Eavngelos Venizelos and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa at the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
"Greece is connected with Egypt by strong historical and cultural ties," Venizelos said after the meeting, noting that Egypt is key to developments in the wider region and to Greek foreign policy.
He expressed the hope that the situation stabilises, as Greece is following developments with great concern, and that "the constitution goes into effect again, for the country to go to free parliamentary and presidential elections."
The Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Greek Orthodox churches and foundations are completely safe and priests, especially the patriarch, fully respected by the regime.
Patriarch Theodore expressed his grief over developments and reiterated that the Greek community enjoyed the respect and support of the Egyptian people. Egypt, he said, is the doorway to Africa and it is a large country with an important role to play. "The Libyan Sea does not separate us, it unites us," he said, in reference to relations between the two countries.
The meeting was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Akis Gerontopoulos.
 Alternate DM meets Patriarch Theodore IIPatriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa asked the Greek Defence ministry's support in the Patriarchate's humanitarian and missionary work during a meeting he had with Alternate Defence minister Fofi Gennimata at the ministry on Wednesday.
The Patriarch also briefed the minister on the difficult conditions currently prevailing in Egypt.
"We are monitoring with concern and anxiety developments in Egypt," Gennimata told the Patriarch. "We stand by the side of Hellenism and all those who are in need. As you know, Greece has been helping, helps and will continue helping the Patriarcate. We are aware of your contribution, not only as a Patriarch but as a person and missionary in Africa," she added.
 SYRIZA calls for extension of first-home foreclosuresThe government's commitment to going ahead with first-home foreclosures constitutes an announcement of mass foreclosures, main opposition SYRIZA press spokesman Panos Skourletis said on Tuesday, responding to the Eurogroup decision to release the next loan tranche.
By implementing the dogma "money exists, but for banks only," the government and troika are preparing to loot the homes of the financially weak in banks' and markets' interest, Skourletis said.
He reiterated SYRIZA's proposal for an extension of the foreclosures' suspension along with a legislation that will foresee the write-off of part of families' debts, based on the income and the social criteria.
 Amnesty International report criticises Greece for 'push-back' of migrants at Turkish bordersAmnesty International on Tuesday released a report that strongly criticised Greece for turning groups of illegal migrants that reached its borders back to Turkey, preventing them from entering the country to seek asylum or a better life.
The 40-page report "Frontier Europe: Human Rights Abuses on Greece's border with Turkey" claims Greek border police and coast guard regularly resort to "push backs" in order to prevent migrants crossing the Aegean or Greece's land borders with Turkey and violate their human rights by denying them the right to have their individual cases heard or to challenge their expulsion.
Amnesty International says that, since March, it has spoken to nearly 30 people in Greece and Turkey who, in at least 39 separate instances, reported that they were stopped trying to cross the Aegean or the northern land border between the two countries along the river Evros. In many instances, the migrants turned back reported "life-endangering" practices on the part of the Greek officers intercepting their craft.
"It is obviously Greece's prerogative to control its borders, but not at the expense of the human rights of those trying to reach safety, or looking for a better life, in Europe. These are difficult times in Greece, and for millions across Europe, but there is no excuse for how refugees and migrants are being treated," said Jezerca Tigani, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
The report also slammed poor conditions at refugee and migrant detention centres in cash-strapped Greece, noting that those who did make it into Greece could find themselves held for indefinite periods of time in dark, dirty cells where health problems were rife, waiting for overwhelmed Greek authorities to consider their asylum applications or decide on their deportation.
 Muslims in Athens can use SEF, OAKA for Ramadan prayerTwo large arenas, the Peace and Friendship Stadium (SEF) in Piraeus and the Olympic Athletic Center of Athens (OAKA) will be made available for mass prayers of Muslims in the greater Athens region, who wish to celebrate the Feast of Breaking the Fast that marks the end of Ramadan, it was announced on Tuesday.
Representatives of the ministries of interior, education & religious affairs, culture & sports, public order & citizen protection decided that both arenas will be open for the Muslim faithful to pray, as in previous years.
All organizations or associations wishing to use the facilities can apply for permission to the stadium boards before July 22. Organizations or associations in areas of the country where no such provision has been made can contact the local municipal authorities.
 VAT reduction in food services expected following EurogroupBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis)
A VAT reduction from 23 to 13 percent in food services is extremely likely, following the end of eurozone Finance Ministers meeting on Monday in Brussels, Finance Ministry officials said late Monday night.
The final decision will be taken in the next few days.
According to the same sources, Greece worked hard with heads of countries and governments of fellow EU states to persuade its partners on the neccessity of VAT reduction in food services.
 IOBE revises upwards estimate for 2013 recession to 5.0 pctThe Greek economy is expected to shrink by 4.8-5.0 pct this year, slightly higher from initial estimates for 2013, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday.
In its quarterly report, IOBE said that its estimate was slightly worse compared with recent estimates made by the European Union and the IMF (-4.2 pct) and the OECD (-4.8 pct).
The report noted that a deep recession in the next quarters of the year will further raise the unemployment rate, although at a slower rate compared with the first quarter of 2013. Unemployment is expected to show signs of improvement during the summer months, helped by increased seasonal employment in the tourism sector.
On the other hand, employment is expected to suffer later in the year with workers' dismissals in the public sector as envisaged in a medium-term framework of fiscal strategy 2013-2016. Unemployment is projected to rise to 27.8 pct of the workforce this year, higher than earlier estimates made by IOBE.
Very low levels of demand will further pressure prices, although higher tourist arrivals are expected to slow a fall in prices during the summer months. A freeze in electricity rates will also help to bring the inflation rate to -0.4 pct this year.
IOBE noted that it necessary for the government to undertake specific actions and initiatives aimed at restarting investment activity in the country.
IOBE said that professor Nikolaos Vettas will take over as managing director of the Institute from September 2013. Vettas is a professor in the Athens Economics University.
 BoG chief: Greek tourism must become more competitiveGreek tourism needs to become more competitive, Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos said on Tuesday at an event on tourism organised by the bank.
Provopoulos said the need the intense seasonality of the Greek tourism product must be contained and underlined that Greece can turn into a center of tourism education in the wider area.
Finally, he expressed the certainty that the tourism industry can contribute to the recovery of the Greek economy as well as in its growth.
 All systemic banks participating in tender to buy Hellenic PostbankAll big systemic banks submitted offers in a tender to buy Hellenic Postbank, in the framework of a process set by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund.
Alpha Bank and Eurobank, with official announcements, said they submitted binding offers for the acquisition of Hellenic Postbank, while National Bank confirmed an offer for the acquisition of a New Hellenic Postbank, while according to information Piraeus Bank also submitted an offer.
The process is expected to be completed by July 15, although a small extension of the deadline until the end of July was possible.
Meanwhile, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund categorically dismissed reports alleging that the chief executive of the Fund, Anastasia Sakellariou, has submitted her resignation.
 Hellenic Petroleum staff union upbeat on estimated quantity of hydrocarbons in GreeceUpbeat estimates on the amount of hydrocarbons in Greek territory were presented at a press conference held on Tuesday by the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) staff union PSEEP, in order to present the newly founded European Institute of Industrial Applications for Energy.
According to the figures presented, some 40 billion barrels of oil and 600 billion cubic metres of natural gas have been 'generated' on Greek territory. Of this, an estimated 10 percent is thought "to be trapped and to constitute the sought-after fields," they said. The estimates originate from scientific papers presented at a conference on oil exploration organised by PSEEP in 2010.
Based on the conclusions of the same conference, there are "valid geological indications" that a major gas field discovered in the NEMED region of the Nile Delta may also extend to the northwest, in areas partly falling within Greece's economic zone and "which appear to have a high potential for hydrocarbons". The conference also highlighted the lively interest in the deep waters of the Ionian Sea, based on a comparison with survey results for geological formations in Italy and the Adriatic.
The European Institute of Industrial Applications for Energy will be a independent non-profit organisation aiming to act as a platform for meetings between businesses, workers, academics, technocrats and the state to discuss problems arising in the field. It is due to begin operating within two months.
 Energean Oil & Gas begins new drilling in Prinos oil fieldEnergean Oil & Gas begins its new drilling programme on Wednesday in the sea region of Kavala Gulf, putting in operation its GSP Fortuna drilling rig in the Prinos oil field, in northern Greece.
Mathios Rigas, chairman and chief executive of Energean Oil & Gas, told ANA-MPA that a new investment programme to be launched is budgeted at 60 million US dollars.
"Our target with four new drillings is to double our daily production in the existing oil field. It is in our favour that international oil prices are currently above 100 dollars per barrel. We are currently producing 1,600-1,800 barrels per day and we hope to double this quantity by the end of the year," he said.
He said that land exploration works in the Ioannina region - where Energean Oil & Gas has formed a joint venture with Petra Petroleum to begin hydrocarbon explorations - would face great difficulties because of the terrain but that the possibility of finding natural gas and oil reserves in the region are high.
"If we find something in Ioannina, it will be something very big, larger that Prinos. I do not want to talk numbers. But we are talking about a region of 4,000 sq.km., while the field in Prinos covers an area of 600 sq.km.," Rigas said.
The first phase of the investment in Ioannina will reach 10 million US dollars, with the possibility of reaching 50 million US dollars.
 TIF-HELEXPO establishes permanent secretariat with PADEE to facilitate Greek business networking abroadA Thessaloniki-based permanent secretariat will be established by TIF-HELEXPO trade fair organiser, in collaboration with the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (PADEE), to reinforce the commercial branch of the Greek diaspora organization, it was announced on Tuesday.
The new secretariat will focus on assisting the networking efforts of Greek entrepreneurs abroad. In this context, Thessaloniki will host an annual business forum, with the participation of PADEE, following a decision made during a two-day conference held in the city, with the participation of parliamentarians and businessmen of Greek descent.
TIF-HELEXPO President Thodoros Soubassis underlined that the Greek diaspora could lead the efforts made for the country's economic recovery, noting PADEE's momentum as an important network that can promote Greece's economic transactions abroad.
PADEE President John Pantazopoulos underlined that the strong presence of the Greek diaspora should be utilized for Greece's benefit. He also underlined the entrepreneurship momentum in northern Greece that needs to become known to foreign markets.
 HFSF owns 42.79 pct of voting rights in Dias AquacultureHellenic Financial Stability Fund on Tuesday said it owned a 42.79 pct in the equity capital of the listed company Dias Aquaculture ABEE, following the participation of the Fund in a share capital increase scheme by Piraeus Bank.
The Fund said it acquired an additional 9.93 pct share in Dias voting rights raising its total share to 42.79 pct.
 Danone says investment programe totaled 18 mln euros in 2010-2012Danone Dairy Products SA has invested 18 million euros in the last three years in Greece, Haris Fevgas, chairman and chief executive of the company told reporters.
"Danone continues to invest in the local economy, strongly resisting the pressures in the business world. Fully acknowledging the reduced purchasing power of Greek households, we promote through new offers in existing products along with new product codes," Fevgas said, adding that Danone was expanding the range of dairy products offered to the Greek market.
Danone said it maintained the leading position in the domestic market in dairy products, with a market share of more than 60 pct and raised its share in the kids desert market to 10 pct.
Danone Dairy Products reported an 87.75 pct increase in net results last year and a 15.5 pct decline in turnover to 21.154 million euros, from 25.057 million euros in 2011. Losses fell to 20.3 million euros in 2012 from a loss of 21.7 million euros in the previous year.
 Athens Mayor presents 'Athens Project'A strategic plan envisaged to enhance entrepreneurship in the Athens Municipality was presented by Mayor George Kaminis on Tuesday during an event organised by the municipality and the Athens Development and Tourist Promotion Company (EATA).
It is the first time that the Athens Municipality undertakes actions in the field of entrepreneurship, "having a vision and a concrete plan for growth," Kaminis said.
The "Athens Project", he added "is a multidimensional entrepreneurial programme aiming at upgrading the urban space of the capital, improving the functioning of the city and the citizens and visitors' quality of life. It is the basic finance tool for implementing the municipality's growth strategy."
 FYROM wines exported under new designation of origin labelSKOPJE (ANA-MPA / N. Frangopoulos)
The Wine Producers Association in FYROM, comprising nine wineries, will launch wine exports to the EU with the protected designation of origin label "Povardarski", it was announced in Skopje on Tuesday.
Until recently, FYROM wine producers had made repeated efforts to export their wines to the EU as "Macedonian," which prompted strong reactions from Greece because the specific geographic designation is used only by Greece and the wines produced in the country's geographic region of Macedonia.
Supermarket chains in the EU, mainly in Germany, had stopped selling FYROM wines under the label "Macedonian" in response to relevant complaints by the Greek authorities.
The decision to seek another designation of origin label was made by the wine producers in FYROM in an effort to overcome the problem and avoid further damages.
 Greece raises 1.625 bln euros from T-bill auctionGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issue, raising 1.625 billion euros from the market.
The interest rate of the issue was set at 4.20 pct while the sum raised was 1.7 times more than the asked sum of 1.25 billion euros.
 Foreign investors net buyers in ASE in JuneForeign investors' participation in the capitalization of the Athens Stock Exchange in June was 34.7 pct, while their participation in the Greek capital market -excluding the capitalization of shares owned by Hellenic Financial Stability Fund- was 48.14 pct.
Greek investors owned 36.5 pct the market's capitalization in June.
Foreign investors were net buyers with capital inflows totaling 40.25 million euros, while Greek investors were net sellers with capital outflows of 32.93 million euros.
Foreign investors accounted for 45.3 pct of all transactions in the market, up from 41.1 pct in May, while Greek investors accounted for 33.7 pct of transactions. The value of transactions totaled 1.231 billion euros in June, down 49.3 pct from May, but up 18.3 pct compared with June 2012. Average daily turnover was 64.79 million euros in June, down sharply from 127.77 million euros in May, but up compared with 52.04 million euros in June last year.
The number of active investor codes fell to 84,940 in June, from 98,003 in May, but sharply up compared with 39,628 in June 2012. The market's capitalization totaled 58.83 billion euros in June, up 58.7 pct from a month earlier, but sharply up (139.9 pct) compared with June 2012.
 Greek stocks end significantly lowerGreek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reversing a three-day rally of the market which pushed the composite index 4.81 pct higher. The index fell 2.34 pct to end at 838.29 points, after rising as much as 1.47 pct early in the day. Traders said a Eurogroup decision on Monday to approve the staggered payment of a 6.8 billion euros loan to Greece has been discounted and did not have any impact on market sentiment. Investors' interest was now focusing on developments in the sale of Hellenic Postbank.
Turnover rose to 53.42 million euros. The Large Cap index dropped 2.44 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.16 pct lower. National Bank (7.84 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while OTE (6.05 pct), Korinth Steel (5.73 pct), Jumbo (5.13 pct), Frigoglass (4.62 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (4.38 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Bank index was the only one to move higher (1.21 pct), while Telecoms (6.05 pct), Financial Services (4.02 pct) and Personal Products (3.92 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 72 to 42 with another 27 issues unchanged. Teletypos (20 pct), General Commerce (18.30 pct) and Sato (13.33 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Bank (21.21 pct), Geniki Bank (19.53 pct) and NEL (18.52 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.69%
Personal & Household: -3.92%
Raw Materials: -3.24%
Travel & Leisure: -3.14%
Food & Beverages: -2.39%
Financial Services: -4.02%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.426
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.58
HBC Coca Cola: 19.51
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.05
National Bank of Greece: 2.75
Eurobank Properties : 7.00
Piraeus Bank: 0.902
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 9.03 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.63 pct and the German Bund 1.6 pct. Turnover was a thin 9.0 million euros, of which 8.0 million were sell orders and the remaining 1.0 million euros were buy orders. Traders said Eurogroup's decision to approve the staggered disbursement of a 6.8 billion euros loan to Greece encouraged sentiment in the market, although a report by Morgan Stanley downgrading Greek state bonds to neutral was reason for concern.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.52 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.42 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.33 pct, the three-month rate was 0.22 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe July contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.42 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising slightly to 16.676 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,836 contracts worth 11.528 million euros, with 52,935 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 41,949 contracts worth 5.148 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (23,713) followed by National Bank (5,874), Alpha Bank (3,136), Piraeus Bank (3,305), MIG (644), OTE (1,200), PPC (1,448), Intralot (467), Ellaktor (315), GEK (363), Mytilineos (284), Hellenic Petroleum (202), Hellenic Exchanges (191) and OPAP (167).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.305
Pound sterling 0.877
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.850
Japanese yen 132.02
Swiss franc 1.263
Norwegian kroner 8.018
Canadian dollar 1.376
Australian dollar 1.423
 'Penny marathons' in Athens and Sydney on Sunday, in support of straysMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)
Marathon runner Ioannis Spinoulas read a news article last year about an initiative undertaken by two Greek-Australian women, who organized a marathon in Athens to raise awareness of the plight of stray cats and dogs. He not only took part in the event but became the organizer of the annual "Penny Marathon" race, which will take place in both Athens, Greece and Sydney, Australia next Sunday.
In an interview in Greek-Australian newspaper "Neos Kosmos", he spoke about the two "parallel" marathons, saying that he is delighted because "over 80 people have registered to participate in support of our cause. We will have runners, cyclists, volunteers, even dogs, that will run with their owners...not the entire 42-kilometre distance because temperatures are expected to be high".
He said that the "Penny Marathon," named after a small stray dog in Athens, aspires to become "a global annual event in support of animal shelters around the world, reminding people to offer a few cents for those who are not afraid to get their hands dirty, having dedicated their lives to helping stray and unwanted animals".
Efforts are being made to organize "Penny Marathons" in the UK and Germany next year.
 Calabria museum's famous Greek sculptures 'ousted' by ongoing renovationROME (ANA-MPA / Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis)
For the past three years, two of the best known ancient Greek statues in southern Italy, known as the "Bronzi di Riace," have not been on display in the National Museum of Magna Grecia in Calabria due to ongoing renovation works whose completion date is still unknown, the Italian newspaper "Corriere della Serra" wrote on Tuesday.
The two statues were found by an Italian diver at the bottom of the Ionian Sea on August 16, 1972 and are regarded as exceptional works of art dated back to the 5th century B.C. Initially, they were thought to be the work of ancient Greek sculptor Phidias. It was later established that they most likely depict two of the warriors in Aeschylus' tragedy "Seven Against Thebes".
According to "Corriere della Serra", "the museum, that hosted the two statues, closed 1,291 days ago for renovation works" and may possibly reopen in the spring of 2014. Until then, the statues will be on display in one of the Calabria Regional Council halls.
 Municipality workers march in central AthensStriking municipality workers and their union federation POE-OTA held a protest march in central Athens on Tuesday, causing severe traffic congestion in several central roads. The march was held to protest against a 'mobility scheme' imposed in the framework of public-sector reform that will see several municipal workers suspended on reduced pay, until they are either laid off or transferred to another post.
The workers gathered at Karaiskaki Square in Athens at 11:00 a.m. and then marched to Parliament via the administrative reform ministry on Vassilisis Sofias avenue.
They then made their way to Gennadiou Street and the offices of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE).
The striking workers will then return to Karaiskaki Square to hold a meeting in order to decide their stance from here on.
 SDOE employees arrested for extortionPolice in Thessaloniki on Tuesday announced the arrest of three SDOE financial crime squad employees accused of extorting a local businessman.
The defendants, a 60-year-old supervisor and two inspectors, aged 37 and 55, are accused of demanding the sum of 25,000 euros in return for not imposing a fine of up to 100,000 euros for alleged tax violations. The businessman's accountant, a 50-year-old woman, was also arrested.
 Thessaloniki EDIC chosen to create catalogue for young peopleThessaloniki municipality's Europe Direct Information Centre is among 20-odd EDICs in Europe that have been selected to create a catalogue for practices of communication with children and young people on issues that concern them. The catalogue will cover issues such as travel, commuting, traffic rules, sports, education, scholarships and vocational training.
The publication of the catalogue is funded by a European programme and it will be sent to all primary and secondary school directorates, sports clubs and arts centres. Also on the cards in 2013 and 2014 are cultural events and political seminars, as well as visits to schools to discuss appropriate behaviour when driving or cycling.
A highlight of events in the city will be the World Rowing Coastal Championship in October 2014, to be hosted by the European Youth Capital for 2014, for which Europe Direct will handle informational needs.
 130 migrants rescued after sailboat takes water off southern CreteAbout 130 immigrants found on a sailboat that was taking in water south of the island of Crete were evacuated onto a freighter, authorities said on Tuesday.
The sailboat sent an emergency signal at dawn on Tuesday as it was sailing 30 nautical miles off Koufonissi island.
Ierapetra mayor Sifis Anastassakis said the town is preparing for the influx of people.
 Two members of an international drug ring arrested in GlyfadaPolice on Sunday arrested two members of an international ring smuggling and trafficking large quantities of cocaine and other drugs in the United Kingdom, wanted by British authorities.
A 51-year-old British national and a 44-year-old Greek woman, arrested in Glyfada, kept constantly changing homes and cars to go undetected by Greek police, hunting for them since last March when they were notified of their arrest warrants.
The arrested are charged of being members of the ring that had smuggled more than two tonnes of cocaine in the UK, as well as large quantities of cannabis and amphetamines, having allegedly "laundered" more than 2.4 million pounds from the drug trade.
 Weapons cache found in stolen truckA weapons cache containing seven Kalashnikov rifles was concealed in a stolen truck found parked in Piraeus, police announced on Tuesday.
The vehicle had been stolen from the Paleo Faliro area on June 22 and was spotted on Monday morning. Searching the interior, officers discovered the seven rifles without clips, a handgun with a clip but no bullets, four hand-grenade casings, three hand-grenade detonator mechanisms, a silencer, five Kalashnikov rifle clips and 150 bullets for the same rifle.
The case is currently under investigation by the Attica Security Police Crimes Against Property department.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Sacrifices for the chipped tranche.
DIMOKRATIA: George Papandreou (former prime minister and PASOK leader) is living like a prince.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The municipalities' executioners.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Stick and installment-carrot.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: German number for the tranche.
ELLADA AVRIO: The negotiation's huge deceit.
ESTIA: Tax payers' Calgary.
ETHNOS: Everything changing in professional real estates.
IMERISSIA: 6.8 billion euros in three installments.
KATHIMERINI: The Germans chipped the tranche.
LOGOS: Harsh 'poker' for the tranche.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Tranche's chipped installment and heavy timetable.
RIZOSPASTIS: National model of a kindergartner in danger of shutting down.
TA NEA: Tranche in installment and VAT reduction in food services as 'gift'.
VRADYNI: Municipality employees and teachers in the streets.
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