|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-07-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 15 July 2013 Issue No: 4407
 PM Samaras: 'My priority is the 1.5 million of unemployed'The overall course of Greece's economy is not doubted by anyone, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras tells an interview with the Proto Thema newspaper, underlining European Union leaders' commitment for further assistance to Greece if the country achieves a primary surplus.
The premier outright denies that new austerity measures are to be taken in September, as predicted "generally" by some. "We will just keep rejecting them," he notes.
Samaras says his is still fighting for VAT reduction in the food and restaurant business (from 23 pct to 13 pct), adding however that the luxury tax is being introduced one year earlier to avoid cuts in military officers' salaries and pensions, as well as imposing a 0.2% pct tax on companies.
Further, the PM stresses that taxpayers' money should be well spent, and not just to pay back for favours to the State through illegitimate recruits. "My priority is the 1.5 million unemployed... seen by most as a mere statistical number."
As far as his August 8 meeting with US President Barak Obama is concerned, Samaras said that "the right time for such an important trip is now," as the climate on the economy has been reversed. "This is an opportunity to go a step or several steps ahead."
 Alexis Tsipras elected president of SYRIZA with 74.07 percentAlexis Tsipras was elected president of main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) with 74.07 percent of the vote on Sunday, at the conclusion of a founding conference converting SYRIZA into a single, unified entity.
Tsipras received 2,477 votes in total, giving him a clear and uncontestable lead over rival candidates Sissy Vovou (157 votes or 4.69 percent) and Panos Iliopoulos (22 votes or 0.66 percent).
There were 3430 registered voters at the conference and a total of 3,412 votes cast, of which 3,344 were valid votes. There were a total of 68 'invalid' votes and 688 blank votes.
 Tsipras: SYRIZA's founding conference 'historic milestone' for Left and democracyIn statements after his election on Sunday night as the new president of the newly unified 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) party, Alexis Tsipras said the founding conference held to create the new SYRIZA was a "major step and a historic milestone for the Left and democracy".
"Three and a half thousand delegates from all over Greece have put their stamp on the birth of the new. With open and vibrant democratic dialogue. With clear decisions. We have taken the historic step. From tomorrow, our new party, men and women together, more united and stronger than ever, embark on a great and victorious course: To stop the social destruction and to rebuild Greece," he said.
 Tsipras invites all left-wingers to join SYRIZASpeaking to his party's first congress on Saturday, main opposition Racial Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras addressed an invitation to left-wingers from any party, as well as to patriots and democrats, and to those who have been betrayed from their party, to join SYRIZA "to change the country's course."
Tsipras stressed that "we are facing an opponent who will battle to the bitter end because they will lose everything: vested interests, privileges and access to power," adding that SYRIZA comes into play not as a power switch, but as a force of huge changes and reversals.
He suggested that the unified SYRIZA party observe the principle "one member, one vote, no privileges, no exclusions," with absolute respect for the Constitution and the decisions of the party's collective bodies.
 Gov't spokesman on SYRIZA leader's speech in first congress ?Government Spokesman Simos Kedikoglou reacting to Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras's speech on Saturday at the first congress of the main opposition party, made the following statement:
"Being weak to dissolve the factions (making up SYRIZA) and face criticism, Mr. Tsipras confined himself to a speech full of insults. Without any clear answer and with slogans about hammers and sickles, all he wants is a return to the past. Greece is in need of turning to the future."
 Kammenos critical of positions at SYRIZA conferenceIndependent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos on Sunday criticised positions heard at the founding conference to convert main opposition SYRIZA into a single, unified entity, in comments posted on social media sites.
"The positions at SYRIZA's conference, especially for the Armed Forces, the Church, overstep the 'red lines' of the Independent Greeks and are reminiscent of a new Soviet from old times," he said.
"It is time to show the Greeks, which of us remain true to what we have said, who has a programme for government," Kammenos added.
 Proclamation of unified SYRIZA approved by congressThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) first congress on Saturday approved the ideological-founding Proclamation of SYRIZA as a unified party.
 FinMin promises no cuts in salaries, pensions and no new taxes in 2015-2016Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras reassures that neither horizontal cuts in salaries and pensions nor new taxes will need to be enforced to make up for any fiscal caps that may appear in 2015-2016.
In an interview with Sunday's edition of Kathimerini newspaper, Stournaras says that "the emphasis will be on structural reforms that reduce the cost of the state without trimming down the quality of public services."
He added that the size of the fiscal gap will be determined after the summer, stressing that the Finance Ministry disagrees with the troika of the country's creditors that this will be up to 2.0 percent of GDP.
"The funds of the rescue package are sufficient until July 2014," the minister notes, adding that "for the remaining period, I am confident that our (EU) partners will fulfill their commitment to provide adequate funding, insofar we fulfill ours."
Stournaras additionally notes that "the issue of debt reduction will be raised" when the country achieves a general government primary surplus, as provided for by the Eurogroup decision.
As far as VAT reduction in the food and restaurant sector is concerned, Stournaras underlines that "our intention is to have it applied on a pilot basis in the last months of the year, and if it succeeds, then it will be permanent. For the specific measure to succeed, the VAT reduction should be passed on right away to prices, otherwise there will be no improvement in consumption to make up for the loss of revenue from the rate reduction."
 Finmin: Shortage in tax revenues manageable and reversibleIn an interview with Saturday edition of Imiresia newspaper, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras outlines the road map for Greece's exit from the Memorandum, i.e. the rescue loan contract signed with international creditors (EC.ECB, IMF).
Achieving primary surplus, a return to growth rates, the strengthening of revenues from privatizations and a drop in interest rates are the keys to help the country turn a new page, Stournaras stresses.
"If we are not sure of our wish to change our country, we cannot expect from the political leaderships and the people of EU member states to consider us credible," he notes.
As far as tax revenues are concerned, the finance minister explained that "the shortage in tax revenues is manageable, interpretable and reversible."
He also underlined that continuous efforts are being made "to reform the tax administration and fight tax evasion."
"Tax evaders are no longer immune; on the contrary, they are even denied their freedom, which is unprecedented in the economic history of our country."
 Interior minister says 'refusing mobility means being fired'In an interview with Sunday's edition of Realnews newspaper, Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis says that "those (public servants) who will refuse to move in new positions as part of the mobility scheme, will be fired."
"The laws will be observed in consistency and determination, there is no other way," he notes.
The minister says that he respects the right to protest but warned that "the state will not allow the country to be exposed to extremes and excesses."
In addition, Michelakis does not rule out closing down organisations "which have no reason to exist," but denies that there will be more horizontal cuts in local government organisations (OTA).
 Staff hired through ASEP not at risk of layoff, Admin Reform minister tells newspaper interviewAdministrative Reform and Electronic Governance Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis assures in an interview with To Vima tis Kyriakis newspaper that civil service employees who "have been hired through the (civil servants selection board) ASEP are not at risk of redundancy."
Mitsotakis clarifies that "the first civil servants to be laid off are those facing penal action, as well as those who have been recruited on forged qualifications."
The minister underlines that the country's failure to meet the prerequisite of the so-called mobility scheme for 12,500 civil servants by June (2013) allowed the troika to demand further measures, such as increasing the total number of mandatory layoffs in the public service which had already been agreed for 2013 and 2014.
"We managed to avoid even the slightest increase in what had already been agreed," the minister says.
He explains that the agreed number (15,000 layoffs) as of February 2012, and their annual allocation of 4,000 layoffs in 2013 and 11,000 in 2014, has remained unchanged.
 KEDE meetings with ministers on MondayA meeting has been scheduled for Monday afternoon at 16:00 at the Finance ministry between ministers of Finance Yannis Stournaras, Interior Yiannis Michelakis and Administrative Reform Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the board of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE).
Earlier, at 14:00, the KEDE board and the heads of its factions are scheduled to meet with government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos.
Discussion during the meetings will focus on local government objections over the measures included in the government's draft omnibus bill, such as abolishing municipal police and school guards.
 PASOK's Venizelos emphasises need for structural reformsThe country needs structural changes and reforms, PASOK party president and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos told an audience in Chania, Crete on Friday evening. Speaking to local bodies and agencies and party officials, Venizelos pointed out the need for an understanding between political parties, as well as of a national dialogue and a framework of broader political consensus.
He spoke of the need "to organise the national front in order to negotiate united with European partners and creditors, to create the conditions of national unity and social consensus."
In addition, he described the primary axes of what he called a national strategy, referring to a triptych that should be implemented: "'No' to additional fiscal measures, 'yes' to structural changes, 'yes' to reforms and radical changes."
Venizelos said the country faced a problem of democracy because, as he put it, "when forces appearing to be radical and progressive but in reality only want conservatism, stagnation and propagation of confusing situations, then there can be no mutual understanding - and this is the big problem in Greece."
The government vice-president placed himself in favour of the comprehensive reform of the state saying that state structures and the wider public sector, including bodies and services, need to be organised in a scientific and transparent manner guaranteeing meritocracy and justice.
 DIMAR sees new austerity measures unless economic policy is changedThe Democratic Left (DIMAR) party says that new austerity measures will be unavoidable, unless there are changes, amendments and additions to the government's economic policy and fiscal adjustment programme.
In a press release issued on Saturday, DIMAR charged that "the economic view of the Ministry of Finance will prove unilateral and ineffective in so far it refers to the future or it agrees with the troika and EU partners on arrangements which actually do not improve condition on a number of critical issues, such as tax reductions, settlement of overdue debts to pension funds, financing the market, strengthening of growth initiatives and supporting the unemployed."
 KKE's Dimitris Koutsoumbas says omnibus bill should be withdrawn"The omnibus bill must be immediately withdrawn and if it should come to a vote it should be voted down," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Saturday to KKE's Central Committee. He repeated KKE's position that there should be no dismissal, no suspension and urged the people to fight against the omnibus bill because it was not just about the public sector and the private sector, it concerned all the workers, all young men and women.
Speaking at an event of the 'Erkyna' cultural association in Livadia, where he replied to all reporters' questions, Koutsoumbas noted that the only solution for the people was to organise their resistance, their counter-attack to build a People's Alliance and walk alongside KKE.
Asked about SYRIZA's conference, KKE's Central Committee general secretary noted that the decisions, activities and speeches made by Tsipras at SYRIZA'S conference reeked of all that was most worn and old that we have known from PASOK in past decades and that the new bipolarism will be built with the worn, rotten materials of the two-party system.
Additionally, he stressed that SYRIZA takes back all its positions concerning the memorandums, has overall changed positions, has changed policies at a much more rapid rate than one would expect.
 Public Order minister Dendias on role of municipal policeMinister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Dendias said on Sunday that his ministry "not only will make the most of the experience of municipal police, but it will also make them a significant element in consolidating a climate of rule of law in our cities."
"No-one can be left out of those who can serve in the critical area of citizen safety," Dendias said.
The minister outlined that "the goal is for the municipal police who will join the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection to continue to offer their services to local communities and ultimately the citizens."
He explained that "the establishment of the Directorate of Citizen Service and Municipal Policing, included in a draft bill on restructuring Greek Police soon to be tabled in parliament, provides for making the most of the municipal police and their smooth integration into the new action model of Greek Police."
 Working group to be set up on municipal policeThe issue relating to the future of municipal police, to be moved from local councils to the Public Order ministry, is nearing a solution, government sources said on Sunday following statements made by ministers of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Dendias and Justice Charalambos Athanasiou.
The same sources stressed that most of the municipal police staff will retain a job position after the completion of the so-called "mobility scheme", to be implemented rapidly, as there are many vacancies which have to be filled.
Reports said that a working group will be urgently set up by the ministries of Interior and Public Order to oversee the programme's rapid implementation.
 Trade unions to hold protests, strikes against new omnibus billGreece's trade union federations are set to continue rallies and strikes on Monday, in protest against the latest omnibus bill tabled in Parliament that legislates for prior actions and reforms demanded by Greece's creditors in return for further bailout loans.
Municipality workers represented by the nationwide union federation POE-OTA will start off with yet another motorised march at Karaiskaki Square at noon - action that will be duplicated in major urban centres throughout Greece on the same day.
POE-OTA will also participate in the protest rally organised by the civil servants' union federation ADEDY at 8:00 p.m. on Monday night, in Syntagma Square and around Parliament. This will be followed by an open-air concert with the voluntary participation of several well-known Greek performers.
Both ADEDY and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), between them representing the majority of unionised employees in the private and public sectors, have announced a 24-hour strike on Tuesday, when the debate on the omnibus bill is set to begin, and a strike rally at Klafthmonos Square in central Athens.
They will be joined by members of POE-OTA and the state health system employees union federation POEDHN, who have urged their members to participate in the Monday rally and Tuesday's strike action.
POE-OTA will "pre-rally" in Karaiskaki Square at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, while all municipality services except social services will remain closed on that day.
A second nationwide protest rally in Syntagma Square outside Parliament has been organised for 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, the day before the vote on the omnibus bill is scheduled to take place, with all workers in both the public and private sector invited to take part. This is to be followed by an all-night vigil and efforts are being made to organise a concert.
On Wednesday, when the vote on the omnibus bill is to take place, there will be a protest rally and a march to Parliament.
 No trains on Tuesday due to general strikeGreece's railway and the Proastiakos suburban rail line will not be running on Tuesday as a result of a 24-hour general strike called by Greek trade unions. The strike will also affect some services starting late on Monday and running into Tuesday, as well as some services on Wednesday.
There will be no metro trains between Doukissis Plakentias station and all stations to the Athens Airport, since that portion of the line is operated by Proastiakos.
 New lawsuit against ERT shut down filed at Council of StateAnother lawsuit against the closure of the former public broadcaster ERT has been filed at the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, it was announced on Sunday. by a lawyer in the former broadcaster's employ, Georgios Kokkas.
The suit was filed by the lawyer Georgios Kokkas, representing ERT on permanent retainer since 1987, who cited 12 legal arguments that he said made the government decisions for ERT's closure invalid and asked that they be revoked.
Kokkas asked for the abolition of two acts of legislative content suspending ERT operations and terminating contracts with ERT staff be cancelled as unconstitutional and counter to European and Greek law, in addition to later government decision appointing Gikas Manalis.
He further slams the act of legislative content as invalid under article 44 of the Constitution since there was no "exceptionally urgent and unpredictable necessity" as demanded by the Constitution nor was it signed by the whole of the cabinet.
In addition to the specific government acts, he also asks for the cancellation of another five ministerial decrees that the lawyer claims are counter to the Constitution and the laws of Greece and Europe.
 Poll shows ND party narrowly ahead of SYRIZANew Democracy (ND) leads by a narrow margin over main opposition SYRIZA, according to an opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis for Ependytis newspaper.
According to the poll results, ND was leading with 29.1 percent, followed by SYRIZA with 28.7 pct.
Half of the respondents (50 pct) said "no" to layoffs in the public sector, while 47 pct want the number of public servants reduced.
In response to who would be most suitable for prime minister, current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (and ND leader) was preferred by 30 percent of the respondents, followed by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras with 12 percent, Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK) with 3 pct, Nikos Michaloliakos (Golden Dawn) with 3 pct, Panos Kammenos (Independent Greeks - ALEL) with 2 pct, and Fotis Kouvelis (Democratic Left - DIMAR) with 2 pct.
As much as 62 pct of the respondents said they were opposed to abolishing the Municipal Police, while 32 pct were in favour of the specific measure.
 SI president Papandreou holds talks with Portuguese Socialist Party's SeguroSocialist International President George Papandreou, a former Greek prime minister, on Sunday held talks on the telephone with the Secretary General of Portugal's Socialist Party Antonio Jose Seguro. They discussed developments in Europe, the Eurozone and all the countries of the European South currently in the process of fiscal adjustment, such as Greece and Portugal.
The two leaders agreed that the austerity measures being implemented must end, as the sole dimension of a programme that cannot yield the anticipated results.
They also discussed the need to strengthen cooperation between the countries of the European south, an idea initiated before the crisis through an initiative taken by Papandreou, at which time there had been extensive discussion of the issue in the framework of the Mediterranean Committee of Socialist International.
The two men also agreed to keep in regular contact, while Papandreou expressed his solidarity and support for Socialist International in the struggle being waged by the socialists in Portugal.
 Levels of corruption in Greece overrated, Coordinator against Corruption tells 'Vima'Greece's 'Coordinator against Corruption' and former supreme court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes has claimed that levels of corruption in Greece may be overestimated by an "outraged and disappointed" public, in an interview published by the Sunday edition of the newspaper 'To Vima'.
"There is corruption in Greece. There are signs, though, that its extent is overrated. It is perhaps due to the exaggerated estimates of outraged and disappointed citizens," he said.
Questioned about the size of corruption in economic terms, Tentes hazarded that it may amount to "millions" but said there was a lack of clear statistical evidence.
"However, in terms of total corruption in the public and private sectors, this percentage has fallen from 13.5 percent in previous years to just 8.6 percent in 2012," he added.
He stressed the need to make the treatment of MPs and ministers under the law equal to that of ordinary citizens, if not fully, then "at least to a great extent."
Tentes noted that, at the proper time, the National Coordinator (against Corruption) would obviously adopt a clearer position from its own objective viewpoint on corruption, as an executive institution given the right under the law to propose legal and regulatory measures concerning the phenomenon.
Regarding the law's treatment of the strong and powerful, the former prosecutor admitted that their access to high-priced, well-known lawyers gave the latter some advantages in their defence.
"On the other hand, however, we are daily seeing powerful individuals in economic and social life subjected to the serious consequences of the law without discrimination," he added.
 Rural Dev't ministry new programme for young farmersThe Rural Development Ministry is awaiting for the European Union's approval of a new 100-million-euro programme for aid to young farmers, alternate minister Maximos Charakopoulos told Sunday's Typos tis Kyriakis newspaper.
The funds will be provided by the revision of the "Alexander Baltatzis" programme and will be used to assist young farmers in their first establishment.
"The future of the country's primary production is identified with the future of young people turning to it," Charakopoulos notes in the interview.
 Eurobank, domestic banking system enter new eraA new era for Eurobank and the country's domestic banking system starts on Monday with the completion of Eurobank's acquisition of the new Hellenic Postal Savings Bank (TT), following a decision announced on Saturday by the Financial Stability Fund (FSF).
Now, the domestic banking system, being fully recapitalised and restructured, comprising four major systemic banks: National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank, turns a page and gets ready to enter the battle of financing Greece's economy and contribute to the major challenge of its revival.
Greece's economy is currently in its sixth consecutive year of recession, pushing unemployment to historical highs.
In the FSF tender for the sale of the new TT bidders included all four systemic banks, with Goldman Sachs acting as financial advisor for the transaction.
On Friday, the FSF announced that the new Proton Bank was also to be acquired by Eurobank, which will now add a total of 160 branches to its network and will be further strengthened by the new TT's strong liquidity. Eurobank's share capital, owned by the FSF, is scheduled to be privatised in the coming months.
A binding agreement between Eurobank and FSF for the acquisition of the new TT is to be signed on Monday.
 Culture minister to present new book entitled 'Post-Kemalism'Culture Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos will present a book by the authors Christodoulos Giallouridis and Afendouli Loggidi entitled "Post-Kemalism" at a book launch to be held at the Vrilissia Municipality Arts Centre on Monday night at 8:00 p.m.
The event will take place at the Mikis Theodorakis park at 38-42 Bakoyannis Street and will be followed by a discussion with the participation of academics and journalists.
 Former deputy mayor near Ioannina commits suicideFormer deputy mayor for finance in the north-western Ioanniton City Council, Nikos Mantis took his own life on Saturday, according to police.
He had resigned from his post last May after having revealed a case of misappropriation of up to 1.3 million euros.
In a written note attached to his resignation, he said: "The latest depressing atmosphere has distressed me physically, psychologically and mentally. All that has happened is beyond my powers."
The head of the economic services department and the cash-clerk were suspended after the case was revealed and referred to justice.
 Sunny weather forecast on MondaySunny weather is forecast on Monday with isolated storms at higher altitudes from the afternoon. Mainly northerly winds, from 3-7 Beaufort. Temperatures will be between 16C and 34C. Sunny in Athens with temperatures from 22C to 35C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 22C to 33C.
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