|Friday, 20 July 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-10-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 23 October 2013 Issue No: 4493
 Gov't Vice-president: 'Unfair to present Greece as EU economy's main problem'To present Greece as the "central problem" of the European and global economy was "false, dangerous and unfair," Government Vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos stressed in a press conference at the foreign ministry on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Venizelos pointed out that Greece's total debt was 350 billion euros when the three largest countries in Europe have debts amounting to around seven trillion euros. He also pointed to the country 5 percent of GDP structural surplus, which he said was the best improvement in the EU, and underlined that Greece now needed social consensus.
"Greek people cannot take any further reduction in income," he underlined.
Asked whether the government had some "final limit," beyond which it would back out of the bailout programme that had slashed the country's GDP by a quarter and had a wide-ranging social impact, Venizelos confirmed that the government did have a final limit but also pointed to the devastating outcome of the alternatives, saying these would have been an absolute collapse and resulted in a GDP slump closer to 75 percent instead of the current 25 percent.
He also stressed that the government's front was "solid" and urged conditions of solidarity, optimism, security and national consensus in Greece.
Referring to the issue of illegal migration flows, the minsiter said that "reasonable and just terms" must first been agreed before field operations got underway. He called for a sound regulatory framework for this issue that dealt equitably with all EU member-states, while highlighting the need to devote much greater sums that those currently given by the EU to this issue, noting that Frontex's current presence was "largely symbolic".
The foreign minister also expressed Athens' complete lack of satisfaction with the way the migrant readmission agreements were implemented and urged the EU to insist on this issue, while referring to what he called certain countries' "inflexibility" regarding the Dublin II treaty.
Reality and the EU's weakness were pressing for an answer to this issue, he added.
 Greece presents 2.632-bln-euro primary budget surplus in Jan-SeptGreece on Tuesday reported a primary budget surplus of 2.632 billion euros in the January-September period, from a primary deficit of 2.069 billion euros in the corresponding period last year and a budget target for a primary deficit of 2.873 billion euros, the Finance ministry said.
In a report, the ministry said that the general government's deficit fell to 2.657 billion euros in the nine-month period, from a deficit of 12.719 billion in the same period last year and a budget target for a deficit of 8.273 billion euros. Net budget revenue totaled 38.728 billion euros in the January-September period, up 5.5 pct from budget targets, while net regular budget revenue totaled 34.716 billion euros, up 4.1 pct from budget targets.
Tax revenue totaled 31.097 billion euros, down 1.4 pct from budget targets. The ministry said that this gap fell to 727 million euros in the eight-month period from 1.601 billion euros in the seven-month period, helped by higher collection of direct taxes in September.
Direct taxes totaled 2.309 billion euros, up 24.5 pct from monthly targets, income tax proceeds by individuals jumped 45.6 pct to 1.121 billion euros, corporate income tax proceeds totaled 210 million euros, up 33.8 pct from budget targets, direct tax proceeds from previous years grew 62.9 pct to 248 million euros, other direct tax proceeds rose 13.9 pct to 392 million euros, while VAT on oil fell short by 39.5 pct from budget targets, while proceeds from a special consumption tax on fuel was 49.8 pct down from budget targets.
State budget spending totaled 41.385 billion euros, down 3.583 billion euros from budget targets, while regular budget spending totaled 38.619 billion euros, down 1.999 billion from budget targets.
The Finance ministry said budget execution in the nine-month period confirmed the ministry's estimates that a shortfall in tax proceeds in the first seven months of the year was a temporary phenomenon which was gradually covered with increased collection of income and property taxes.
 Rehn sees 'encouraging signs' in Task Force for Greece reportThe Greek economy is showing encouraging signs of stabilisation and a possible return to positive growth in 2014, European Commission Vice-President Olli Rehn, responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the euro, said on Tuesday.
In statements after the release of the Fifth Activity Report of the Task Force for Greece, Rehn underlined that "while we are seeing encouraging signs of stabilisation in the Greek economy and expect a return to positive growth in 2014, the situation remains very difficult for Greek citizens, not least the dramatically high numbers of unemployed. The structural reform programme is an agenda for a sustainable recovery in growth and job creation, and the Task Force for Greece is working hard to support the Greek authorities in its implementation. It is particularly encouraging to see the strong improvement in Greece's absorption of EU funding, which is an essential source of investment at this time."
The Task Force report noted that considerable progress has been made in a number of crucial sectors in the economy, including absorption of community funding, the resumption of highway construction, tax collection and administrative reform.
During the report presentation, a senior European Commission official praised the government for the progress made in the implementation of reforms, noting that greater progress has been achieved after the 2012 elections, which has been recognized internationally.
According to the report, good progress has been made in unlocking infrastructure investments. Work on four large motorways with a combined value of 7.6 billion euros, which had been suspended for three years due to the crisis, is close to being resumed, with EU clearance and financial support expected in the coming weeks.
One of the most striking improvements has been Greece's increased absorption of Structural and Cohesion Funding. Of the 20 billion euros currently available to Greece from the EU budget, 67.5 pct had been disbursed by the end of September, up from 49 pct at the end of 2012. Since December 2011, Greece has risen from 18th position to 6th in the EU league table of Structural Funds absorption, representing a much-needed injection of liquidity into the economy.
In the area of public finances and tax collection, there are signs of increased efficiency in the tax administration and the number of completed audits of large taxpayers has more than doubled over the first seven months of the year compared to 2012 (164 vs 66).
As regards the national anti-corruption strategy, the capacity of the Financial Intelligence Unit (the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism funding authority) has been boosted, resulting in the reporting of 1,130 cases of suspected tax evasion, the forwarding of 313 cases to the Prosecutor?s Office and freezing of assets worth 133 million euros.
 No more reductions in pensions beyond those already agreed upon, minister tells parliamentThere will be no further reduction in pensions beyond those already passed by Parliament and those that Greece has agreed to carry out in the framework of loan agreements, Labour, Social Security and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Vroutsis said that a new method for calculating the lump-sum bonus (known as "efapax") retirees get will be introduced as of January 1, 2014. The same method will be used to calculate auxiliary pensions as of June 1, he added.
Questioned closely about the status of pensions, the minister said that the 3863 law passed in 2010 would not change because it constituted a structural change, and added that the ministry would set up a technical experts committee to help with the new system's introduction.
Earlier he had criticised "the mosaic of the special regimes dominating the social security insurance system in the past, based on clientelistic mentalities and special procedures, creating a miserable picture whose end had come." He cited as examples 92 different insurance branches, with 92 different budgets and 92 accounting offices, handling lump-sum bonuses that exceeded actual amounts contributed by 60, 70 and in cases 80 percent.
"The lump-sum bonuses and auxiliary pensions are issues Greece has committed to by laws voted in Parliament and at memorandum level, and they will be carried out," Vroutsis said. "But I am also obliged to note," he said, "at this point, that they are also contributory bonuses, and have nothing to do with the state budget. Unfortunately those were issues that also worked on the basis of a clientelist system, leading to us pay bonuses over 80 percent higher than actual contributions. This is the greatest injustice to future generations and the future of our children."
 Parliament to vote on suspension of state funding to political parties under certain conditionsA request was submitted to parliament by 18 PASOK PMs on Tuesday evening for a roll call vote on the amendments tabled by the Interior ministry on the suspension of state funding to political parties in case of MPs facing prosecution for involvement in a criminal organisation or terrorist activity.
The vote on the amendments, included in the bill for Renewable Energy, was set to start at 11.00 p.m.
The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) also requested a roll call vote on two other amendments relating to the new public broadcaster and administrative staff in tertiary education.
Parliamentary spokesman for SYRIZA, Dimitris Papadimoulis, stressed that the party's position was to vote in favour of the amendment relating to the suspension of party funding under certain conditions, even though it had some reservations.
 Parl't to vote next week on lifting immunity of four Golden Dawn MPsThe parliament's ethics committee recommended on Tuesday that parliamentary immunity be lifted for four ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party MPs, Eleni Zaroulia, Ilias Kasidiaris, Ilias Panayiotaros and Efstathios Boukouras.
During Tuesday evening's meeting, the ethics committee examined the cases of the four MPs and decided to respond positively to prosecutors' request that the parliament allows justice to prosecute the four on a variety of charges including violation of the weapons legislation, provoking violent incidents, threatening and abusing.
The final decision on lifting immunity for the four MPs will be taken by a roll call vote in the parliament's plenum next week.
 Gov't spokesman refutes SYRIZA charges on submarine contractsSYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' attack against government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos over submarine contracts is "groundless" and "libellous", government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Tuesday.
The spokesman charged the main opposition leader with "serving the adventurist policy of SYRIZA, which has come to a strategic impasse and has nothing substantial and responsible to say towards the country's progress."
Referring to the charges and to a related non-paper issued by the party on submarine contracts, Kedikoglou said that during the vice president's term as defence minister, from 2010 to 2011, his interventions on the issue were carried under transparency rules and in application of a special law passed in Parliament to deal with a bad precedent set by poor earlier contracts.
The government's position is based on 2010's law to salvage the shipyards and to have the submarines delivered which are now under the jurisdiction of the state.
"Negotiations with the European Union and involved parties is difficult, but we are certain that the concerted efforts of all related ministries that follow this single line will soon bring results benefitting national shipyard infrastructure, employees and the needs of the Greek Navy," he added.
 Submarines issues a scandal, opposition Ind. Greeks leader saysOpposition Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos on Tuesday accused the coalition government of "confirming, once again" that the principle on which it operated was the mutual cover-up of scandals, in relation to the contract for the construction of six submarines for the Greek Navy by Hellenic Shipyards.
Kammenos stressed that in 2010, the New Democracy party had refused to vote for a law approving the delivery of the submarines tabled by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos but had warned of a scandal that later occurred with the "disappearance of the investor", the closure of the shipyards, losses of jobs and the cessation of work on the submarines "that have been left to rot in the tanks".
 SYRIZA's Tsipras: 'PM is playing for time'; SYRIZA is 'threatening' investors, gov't respondsStatements made by main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras concerning the privatisation of Greece's state-controlled electricity provider Public Power Corporation (PPC) on Tuesday prompted an incensed reaction from government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, who accused him of "threatening" ministers and investors.
"The masks are dropping away, one by one," Kedikoglou said in his reply to Tsipras. "His undisguised threats against ministers and investors reveal SYRIZA's extremist political choices."
The spokesman accused Tsipras of "torpedoing" the positive investment climate that was emerging and "banking" on the country's failure.
"This is his ideology and this is SYRIZA. We denounce them to every citizen that cares about the good of the country," he concluded.
During a visit to the country's Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMHE) on Tuesday, Tsipras told employees that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was simply playing for time in his talks with Greece's creditors.
"We know that when the prime minister asks for the troika's support, he is not submitting any alternative proposal or prospect. In reality he is asking for time. Time that they may give him, if this is considered best, in order to proceed with the implementation of criminal choices," he said.
He expressed concern about the plans to privatise PPC, saying these would have a very negative impact on a strategically important company and on ordinary people, with many households already facing 'energy poverty' and unable to meet their demands.
"This concern grows further when we learn that, observing memorandum commitments, the government is preparing to sell off in reality a great part of the PPC and even the networks and transmission lines, which is unprecedented," he added.
According to the main opposition leader, this was an issue touching on national security and the country's growth potential, as well as social cohesion, and he stressed his opposition to the plans.
Referring to the government's policy in general, Tsipras said that reality disproved the government's claims of a 'success story' in Greece and that it was playing for time, trying to hold on to power.
"Their problem are not the three million without health insurance or the over two million living on the poverty line, nor the 30 percent unemployed and 60 percent jobless youth. Do you know what their problem is? That SYRIZA is coming. That they will lose power, along with the spoon and the gravy," he said, adding that corruption was also rife in the privatisations underway.
At the same time, Tsipras ruled out any "tricks" by SYRIZA in order to force early elections, such as mass resignations of its MPs from Parliament, saying that the momentum for elections would "come the street", while predicting that a SYRIZA victory would set off a domino of similar developments throughout Europe.
In earlier announcements released by SYRIZA, meanwhile, it accused the government of covering up for the leader of the junior party in the coalition government, PASOK President Evangelos Venizelos, in connection with what SYRIZA considers an emerging scandal over the agreements for the construction of six submarines for the Greek Navy at Hellenic Shipyards in Skaramangas.
"This is the second time, after the Lagarde-list case, that New Democracy is covering for its partner and PASOK leader for the sake of memorandum solidarity and to remain in power," SYRIZA said in reply to a statement of support for Venizelos made by the government spokesman.
 ND blasts SYRIZA on university standoff"They are hopeless! SYRIZA and its affiliated youth group want Universities to be asylums of illegality and warehouses trafficking illegal immigrants," the New Democracy party said in a press release on Tuesday, commenting on the main opposition Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) stance on the University standoff.
The ND accused SYRIZA of siding with those wishing to see the country's educational institutions ruined, instead of listening to people's demand for universities to operate normally.
"They (SYRIZA) even went as far as to characterise the enforcement of law by the Grekk Police as "criminal." But the government will not allow the perpetuation of any such
"asylum of illegality," as SYRIZA and its youth group want so much," the ND statement concluded.
 Venizelos on the FYROM name issue, maritime zone delimitation agreement with AlbaniaDeputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that he was in favour of a complex name for all uses responding to a question on the FYROM name issue during his press conference on Tuesday.
Venizelos underlined that changing the atmosphere with FYROM is very important noting, however, that "the atmosphere cannot be changed when insulting statements like: 'Greece should be named former Ottoman province of Greece', are being made".
He said that such an attitude mocks the UN procedures and decisions, adding that when it is said publicly that only FYROM's constitutional name will be accepted, questions are being raised on whether the other side in fact accepts the UN procedures.
As regards the maritime zone delimitation agreement with Albania, Venizelos said that the process should be completed.
He said that the principles of the signed agreement cannot be changed but certain technical issues could be considered. Venizelos reminded that Albania has expressed its readiness to join the EU and that it has Greece's support, in essence, calling on Tirana to settle the issue based on the European principles.
 Deputy FM Kourkoulas interview with Bulgarian public radioSOFIA (ANA-MPA / B. Borisov)
Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas warned the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) that "they will either build good relations with their neighbours or they will see their accession being postponed" referring to the FYROM government and its efforts to join the European Union.
In an interview with Bulgaria's BNP public radio, he said that "it would have been pointless to launch negotiations with this country given the present level of its relations with neighboring countries," adding that "even though we are in favour of our neighbors' European prospect we believe that relevant negotiations would have been counterproductive in the present phase".
He said that Greece was always very positive on the issue of the Western Balkan countries' EU accession, pointing out that Athens has a very positive experience from Bulgaria's accession.
The deputy foreign minister stated that Greece has made brave steps, has proposed a compromise which is fair to both sides and is now waiting for FYROM's response.
He said that Greece is skeptical because it does not see the government of FYROM preparing the country's public opinion for an acceptable compromise solution, adding that, on the contrary, FYROM continues to fabricate history creating problems for Greece and Bulgaria.
 Interior Minister Mihelakis' interview in the margins of the 4th German-Greek AssemblyNUREMBERG (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
Implementing a policy that would include new spending cuts and new taxes will only benefit the extremes of the political spectrum, Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis said on Tuesday, speaking to the ANA-MPA on the sidelines of the 4th meeting of the German-Greek Assembly held here.
Mihelakis underlined that the best policy against the ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) party is no other than implementing policies that are socially sensitive and economic growth-oriented. "This is the only way to make this formation disappear from Greek society," he said.
Mihelakis said that the Greek people have made big sacrifices which are start to bring results, referring to the primary surplus that is being achieved.
He also said that before Greece could return to the financial markets, investors should see a safe environment, adding that settling the debt sustainability issue will bring more investments.
The German-Greek Assembly is a forum for cooperation between municipalities, regions and citizens of both countries.
 Public Order Minister Dendias receives new US ambassadorThe supply to Greece of material and technical infrastructure from the United States to boost the migration flow management sector was discussed in a meeting on Tuesday between Public Order & Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias and new US Ambassador to Athens David D. Pearce.
They also confirmed the very good atmosphere in bilateral relations and discussed issues concerning international security.
The US ambassador visited Dendias in the context of his scheduled contacts following the assumption of his duties.
 CoE Secretary General Jagland congratulates Greece for swift response in GD caseThe suspension of state funding to political parties accused of criminal acts, to be voted in the Greek Parliament later on Tuesday, was praised by Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Thorbjoern Jagland, launching his two-day visit to Athens.
Speaking to Associated Press, he added that it should be ensured that the (ultra-right Golden Dawn) MPs implicated in the Fyssas murder will have a fair trial.
He congratulated the Greek government for taking very strong action immediately, noting that it is very important to distinguish between political work and criminal acts.
 Supreme Court prosecutor calls for nationwide investigation into possible fake birth registrationsPrompted by the revelations concerning a young girl found in the care of a couple that were not her birth parents at a Roma settlement in Farsala, a Supreme Court prosecutor on Tuesday intervened to ask for a broad, nationwide investigation into possible illegal adoptions and trafficking in children.
She called for urgent inquiries by all of the country's prosecuting services to ascertain whether child birth registrations over the past five years (2008-2013) have been issued solely on the basis of the parents' reporting a birth. In such cases, she said, the veracity of the birth registrations must be investigated.
In the event that it is ascertained that illegal actions have taken place, they should be investigated further to determine whether the offences of child trafficking, abduction of minors or illegal receipt of child benefits have been perpetrated.
 Checks at Athens municipality for postdated birth declarationsThe Public Administration Auditor Inspector Corps (SEEDD) checked the births register at the Athens municipality's register office on Tuesday, at the request of Athens mayor George Kaminis, to assist checking started by the municipality on postdated child birth declarations.
The Athens municipality's initial check revealed 50 postdated declarations of births taking place outside maternity clinics and with no attending doctor in 2011, that increased to 200 in 2012 and to 400 in 2013. Every declaration concerned more than one child.
The substantial rise in the registration of such births in 2012-2013 created justifiable suspicions of a ring operating to collect illegal child benefits, prompting Kaminis to call on the assistance of the SEEDD for an investigation of the municipality's registration department, while he also appealed to the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) to arrange for the inspection of all municipal registers and municipal rolls throughout the country.
Meanwhile, according to a reply sent by Interpol's head offices in Lyon to a request sent by the Greek Police, little Maria is not included in the lists of children being sought by international police authorities, which means that she has not been reported missing.
 KKE condemns riot police attack on protesting workers in EviaOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday condemned what it called an "unprovoked attack" by riot police using chemicals against workers from the Halkida cement factory unit, Shelman, Neoset, Interkem and Michaniki, who were protesting outside the Regional Office in Evia "demanding the payment of back salaries and their right to work".
"The latest attack is a follow-up to the arrests of 13 people employed in local industrial plants and proves that the implementation of the anti-popular policy passes through the government's law and order doctrine," KKE underlined.
 Greece needs additional measures to meet 2014 fiscal targets, EU officialsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
Greece needs to take additional measures to meet the fiscal targets of the Greek programme in 2014, European Union sources said on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters, here, EU sources said that certain member-states were displeased with the message "no more measures" sent by the Greek side and stressed it was important for Greece to meet its fiscal targets for 2014 and to achieve a primary budget surplus in the same year.
This is the only solution if Greece wants to reduce its debt level faster, to attract investments and to boost economic growth, Community sources said.
The same sources underlined the existence of a fiscal gap in the 2014 budget, worth 2.0 billion euros and stressed that it was necessary to take specific and focused measures and not measures of a horizontal nature (i.e. cuts in pensions and wages). They noted that the troika and the Greek side continued to disagree on the size of the fiscal gap in 2014, while they underlined that Brussels estimated this gap at 2.0 billion euros. The disagreement was the result of different ways in measuring growth, fiscal multipliers and state spending, they said.
The community sources said that the Greek side needed to first satisfy all four prior actions envisaged in the memorandum before its creditors approved the disbursement of an 1-bln-euro loan to Greece and said the first and most significant prior action was a mobility scheme in the public sector with 12,500 civil servants. The second is a restructuring of Greece's defense industries - Hellenic Defense Systems, Hellenic Vehicle Industry and Larco. The sources said that two out of those three industries must shut down. The third prior action is repayment of outstanding state debts to Athens Water and Thessaloniki Water and the fourth is a new lawyers' code.
The same sources expressed hope that discussion over a so-called "financing gap" of the Greek programme could begin as soon as possible, possibly in December, but noted that there must first be a 'safer' assessment of fiscal figures for 2013 and
2014. They did not exclude the possibility of an extension on the maturing of Greek bonds held by European Central Bank and EU central banks. They noted that decisions over the sustainability of Greek debt were expected around May or June 2014.
 Greek economy to present zero growth in 2014, KEPE reportGreece will present zero growth and an unemployment rate of 29.3 pct in 2014, the Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) said on Tuesday.
In its quarterly report on economic developments in the country, KEPE said the Greek economy will shrink by 3.55 pct this year, an improved estimate compared with its initial estimate in June, as there were signs that the economy was moving towards exiting the recession. In June, KEPE estimated a 4.1 pct recession this year and a 0.55 pct recession in 2014.
The report said that unemployment will remain at very high levels, although new estimates are improved compared with June's estimate. The unemployment rate is projected to rise to 27.6 pct this year and to 29.3 pct in 2014, reflecting a shrinking productive base in the country and a weakness in rapidly restricting and adjusting economic structures to a new productive model.
KEPE said the inflation rate will fall to -0.28 pct this year and to -0.31 pct in 2014, while the current account balance will show a surplus of 0.91 pct of GDP this year and 3.42 pct of GDP in 2014.
The report said that higher investments and exports were the only solution to replace the Greek economy into a growth course. Exports of goods needed a new integrated long-term strategic plan to promoting high-quality and added value products abroad, such as industrial and farm products.
 Tourism Minister Kefaloyianni says 2014 will be an even better year for Greek tourismTourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni closed the proceedings of the 12th conference of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) on Tuesday by underlining that Greek tourism has turned a new page and is aiming higher, expressing the belief that 2014 can be a better year than 2013.
Kefalogianni said that the tourism ministry places emphasis on high quality tourism services focusing on uniqueness, innovation, entrepreneurship and environmental protection.
Political initiatives in the context of the strategy followed include the adoption of necessary legislative reforms to simplify procedures and boost entrepreneurship, spatial planning for tourism development projects, EU funding and changing the country's image abroad .
 Dev't Minister: Tourism will play central role in new NSRF funding programmeDevelopment and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis said that tourism will play a central role in the new NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework, 2014-2020) EU funding programme, speaking on Tuesday at the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) conference.
He underlined that this will not be done for communication reasons but because tourism results show up immediately in the Greek economy.
The minister said that public and private entities will cooperate for the best distribution of funds in the market.
Focusing on the economy's figures, Hatzidakis stressed that 2013 appears to be the last recession year in Greeece and that the first recovery signs will start becoming apparent in 2014.
 Greece can get 24 mln tourists in 2021 if adequate investments are made, per McKinsey reportGreece can easily meet the goal of 24 million tourist arrivals by 2021 as long as it makes investments of 3.3 billion euros in infrastructures, hotels and marinas on an annual basis, according to a study by the McKinsey management consulting firm made public on Tuesday.
The study "Greece 10 years ahead", which was presented in the 12th conference of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), underlined that the tourists' per capita spending is estimated to reach 800 euros, corresponding to direct revenues of 18-19 billion euros and overall revenues of 48-50 billion euros, compared with the 32 billion euros in 2012, and to an additional 9 percentage points in the country's GDP. The number of those employed in the tourism sector, both directly and indirectly, will increase to 1 million, from 680,000 today.
The study suggests that the tourism ministry should focus on 6 axes, namely, six alternative forms of tourism: Sun & Beach, Conference Tourism, City Break, Cultural Tourism, Maritime Tourism and Medical Tourism.
Addressing the conference, McKinsey & Company Greece managing director Giorgos Tsopelas underlined that Greece can achieve these numbers, provided investments are made, adding that the goal of extending the tourism season can be met if hotel capacity increases to 900,000 beds from 770,000 today.
Islands have services despite reduced itinerary of coastal shipping companies, Shipping Minister Varvitsiotis says
Shipping & Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis on Tuesday clarified that the islands have ferry services despite a decision by certain coastal shipping companies to reduce the frequency of their sea routes.
Responding to complaints made by island mayors regarding the low frequency with which certain itineraries are carried out, he said that consultations are underway with shipping companies to improve the situation and ruled out the likelihood of subsidized routes for big islands, noting that the existing budget cannot support such an option.
Most of the problems concern the transport of perishable goods, fish in particular, that have to be in frozen state when they arrive in the port of Piraeus.
 Consumer protection among the priorities of the Greek EU PresidencySafety of goods, the new directive for consumers traveling abroad and the new draft directive on bank accounts (dysfunctions in the greater European market) were among the issues that dominated in the meeting on Tuesday between Development & Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and representatives of the European Consumer Organization - BEUC.
The Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014 and its priorities in consumer protection were also on the agenda.
The meeting concluded with an agreement for regular contacts between General Secretariat for Consumer and BEUC to focus on consumer protection issues before and during the Greek EU Presidency.
 Tax office instructed to prioritise cases involving major wealth, offshore assetsFinance ministry general secretary for public revenues Haris Theoharis on Tuesday issued instructions to the Tax Office to give priority to inspections and audits ordered by public prosecutors or inspectors that relate to the acquisition of large amounts of wealth, real estate property abroad, offshore companies or money transferred out of the country.
According to the same circular, priority treatment must also be given to cases assigned by order of the finance minister or the general secretary for public revenue, or those where the tax audit has been approved by the General Directorate for Tax Audits and Collection of Public Revenues.
It specifies that the auditing of such cases and for companies being audited for the financial years 2004 and 2005 for the recovery of state subsidies must be carried out as laid out in the circular issued by Theoharis relating to inspections of cases nearing the final deadline for prosecution. This specifies that a point-system will be implemented for such cases, so that there is an immediate review of such cases that focuses particularly on the year at risk of being written off.
 Greek households lose 3.1 bln euros in income in Q2Greek households suffered a loss of 3.1 billion euros from their available income in the second quarter of 2013, compared with the corresponding period last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this decline in household income (from 33.2 billion euros to 30.1 billion euros, or by 9.3 pct) mainly to a 13.9 pct decline in workers' incomes and a 12.4 pct in social benefits to households. Social benefits fell to 29.4 pct of total state spending in the second quarter of 2013, from 44.9 pct in the same period last year, while wages fell to 16.5 pct of total spending from 24.1 pct over the same periods, respectively.
Final consumer spending fell by 7.6 pct in the April-June period to 32.7 billion euros, from 35.4 billion euros in the same period last year, while the savings rate fell further to -8.7 pct from -6.7 pct over the same periods, respectively.
The general government's revenues totalled 19.13 billion euros in the second quarter, down from 21.14 billion euros last year, while general government spending grew to 33.145 billion euros (from 24.95 billion euros in 2012) and primary spending jumped to 31.216 billion euros from 22.654 billion euros.
The general government's net borrowing requirements totalled 14 billion euros in the second quarter from 3.8 billion euros last year, while the economy's net borrowing requirements towards foreigners was 800 million euros, down from 2.3 billion euros in 2012, reflecting a decline in Greek imports.
 Building materials' price index down 1.8 pct in Sept.Building materials' prices fell 1.8 pct in September this year, helped by a decline in international oil prices, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that diesel oil prices fell 11.3 pct in September, steel pipe prices fell 8.4 pct, lift prices declined 4.5 pct, cement prices fell 3.0 pct, windows were down 2.8 pct, floor parkets fell 2.0 pct and safety door prices eased 1.8 pct. On the other hand, electricity prices rose 18.7 pct, brick prices rose 4.8 pct and plastic pipe prices increased 3.4 pct in the month.
The statistics service said that new home building materials' price index fell 1.8 pct in September, compared with the same month last year, after rising by 0.4 pct in September 2012. On a monthly basis, the index fell 0.2 pct in September from August 2013.
 Greek stocks continue moving higherGreek stocks continued moving higher for the seventh consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index to its highest closing since July 29, 2011 (1,204.15 points). The index rose 0.45 pct to end at 1,202.27 points, after falling as much as 0.88 pct during the session. The index is up 8.39 pct in the last seven sessions, 18.56 pct higher since the start of October and 32.42 pct up so far this year. Turnover was a strong 148.91 million euros. The Large Cap index rose 0.55 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 4.79 pct higher.
Eurobank Properties (7.79 pct), National Bank (6.82 pct), Viohalco (6.72 pct) and Ellaktor (4.73 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (3.54 pct), Mytilineos (2.01 pct), OPAP (1.84 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (1.76 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Banks (4.43 pct), Industrial Products (3.01 pct) and Health (1.72 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Financial Services (2.35 pct), Travel (1.53 pct) and Raw Materials (1.46 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 82 to 68 with another 13 issues unchanged. Eurobank (28.7 pct), Pegasus (20 pct) and Athina (19.88 pct) were top gainers, while Dias Aquaculture (19.79 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farms (19.05 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.32%
Personal & Household: -0.79%
Raw Materials: -1.46%
Travel & Leisure: -1.53%
Food & Beverages: +0.06%
Financial Services: -2.35%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.69
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.19
Coca Cola HBC: 21.09
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.42
National Bank of Greece: 4.70
Eurobank Properties : 9.27
Piraeus Bank: 1.75
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was almost unchanged at 6.54 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 6.53 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.33 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.79 pct. Turnover was an improved 15 million euros, of which 9.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 6.0 million euros were 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 0.224 pct and the one-month rate was 0.129 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking further to 15.248 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,860 contracts worth 7.672 million euros, with 52,212 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,279 contracts worth 7.576 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (8,183), followed by National Bank (4,115), Alpha Bank (3,098), Eurobank (1,145), MIG (2,564), OTE (991), PPC (587), OPAP (541), Mytilineos (601), GEK (345), Ellaktor (324), Intralot (301), Jumbo (208) and Sidenor (192).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.387
Pound sterling 0.860
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.894
Japanese yen 136.54
Swiss franc 1.254
Norwegian kroner 8.255
Canadian dollar 1.429
Australian dollar 1.435
 Pres. Papoulias, PM Samaras attend opening ceremony of Municipal Theatre of PiraeusAfter 14 years of silence, the fully restored Municipal Theatre of Piraeus, a historic theater that first opened some 118 years ago, in 1895, officially opened its doors to the public again on Tuesday evening, in the presence of Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
"The reopening of the Municipal Theatre is a shining example of consistency and continuity in a country that is in need of continuity and consistency. It is a part of the glorious history of this city, the history of our country, which now is no longer a ruin, but ready for new pages in history. This is the great symbolism of this work. A country does not prosper by erasing the history and leaving the past to decay, but by highlighting its right to have its past as a springboard for the future," Samaras stressed in his address.
Mayor Piraeus Vassilis Michaloliakos said the port city of Piraeus and Greece now again have what he called a temple of art and culture."Piraeus today comes out of a decades-long cultural stagnation and again becomes a strong power and a seafaring center, as well as a pioneer in culture and a growth leader."
"The Municipal Theatre of Piraeus reopened after a long struggle. What is now required to ensure steady operation, is lasting state funding to keep it open to the people," said Dimitris Koutsoumbas, leader of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), who also attended the event.
 Int'l conference on return of cultural property opens Wed. at Acropolis MuseumThe 3rd International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property will open at the Acropolis Museum Wednesday at 6:00 pm, with the actual conference to be held in Ancient Olympia, the Culture and Sports Ministry announced on Tuesday.
The conference proceedings will begin on Thursday and run through Saturday at the SPAP Conference Centre in Ancient Olympia, and the inauguration will be addressed by Republic of China Deputy Culture Minister Li Xiaojie.
First held in 2011, the conference brings together local and and international experts, representatives of organisations, and professionals from fields related to the return or the restitution of cultural property. Last year it was held in Seoul.
This year the conference lectures will include the standardisation of procedures for the return of cultural property; a review of relevant legislation on national and international levels; the exchange of experiences and know-how aiming at restricting illicit trade in cultural property; establishing guidelines for cooperation between states and auction houses; spreading public awareness; e-commerce; and the digitising of cultural information and resources.
The congress is being held under the aegis of the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO, and is funded by the Latsis Foundation. Additional financial assistance is provided by the Swiss Confederation, the International Olympic Committee, the Periphery of Western Greece, the Town of Ancient Olympia, and the Elis Chamber of Commerce, while technical support is provided by Samsung Hellas.
 Special exhibit for sight impaired at Stoa of Attalos until October 31The Museum of the Ancient Agora in Athens has on display until October 31 an exhibition for the sight impaired with copies of sculptures and other objects, in the Stoa of Attalos.
The exhibition, organized by the 1st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, is a tribute to the diverse work of the Archaeological service (EPKA) in collaboration with the National Federation for the Blind and the Centre for Education and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired.
"Each of the approximately 30 exhibits are labelled with large fonts or are in Braille and the live or recorded tour lasts about an hour and a half," said Maria Liaska, an archaeologist at 1st EPKA. The exhibition is divided into five sections, each with a different theme , such as the institution of ostracism, the selection of archons, official weights and measures used in trade and the ancient theater, especially the masks section.
The exhibits are mostly copies of sculpture and artefacts found in the Agora, organized into categories, whereas the main theme of the exhibition is Athens and Athenian Democracy during the 5th and 4th century.
The Museum of the Ancient Agora is opened from 08.00-15.00 and by appointment.
 Spanish dramatist Juan Mayorga in AthensSpanish dramatist, theatre and essay writer Juan Mayorga has been invited by the Spanish Embassy in Athens to watch performances of two of his plays at local theaters and discuss them with the audience.
On Wednesday at 19.00 at the Cervantes Institute, Juan Mayorga will also participate in a discussion on Spanish theater and his personal career with the help of the Greek translator of his texts, Maria Hatziemmanouil.
His plays have been translated into 22 languages, presented in 31 countries and have won the Max award and the Spanish national theater award, Valle-Incl?n. The two plays to be performed in Athens are: 'Himmelweg, el camino del cielo' ('Himmelweg, the way to heaven') at Altera Pars theater and 'La tortuga de Darwin' ('Darwin's Turtle') at Alkmini theater.
The event is organized by the Spanish Embassy in Athens, the Cervantes Institute and Teatro Pasi?n.
 Europe-wide conference on waste management opens in AthensThe first Ecopol Conference on "Accelerating eco-innovation policies" opened in Athens on Wednesday to examine how to improve waste management and resource efficiency in European countries.
The two-day event by Ecopol, a transnational public partnership, is taking place in the framework of the 3rd Programme of the European Commission's Environment Directorate General-Green Economy, and will focus on three topics: waste management based on innovative methods; introducing green innovation in public contracts; and exporting innovative environmental methods used by small and medium-sized businesses.
The Attica Region is partner of the consortium that won the bid for managing the area's waste, including two partners from Portugal and one each from Finland, Sweden, Germany and Austria.
The regional authority has "identified and analysed more than 200 innovative green strategies and tools in the sectors of waste management and recycling, public contracts and export of innovations by local businesses," Attica Prefecture director Yiannis Sgouros said. He added that one of the core issues was to increase public awareness in waste management and recycling, and mentioned that specialists from the town of Lahti in Finland would participate in a pilot programme to transfer know-how to towns in northern Attica that have features similar to those of the Finnish town.
Environment Minister Secretary General Constantina Giannakopoulou said an obligation that Greece has to present by December 12, 2013 a national programme to prevent the creation of waste has already been fulfilled. She added that the ministry aimed to promote recycling throughout Greece, and changes would be introduced through a new law that would promote utilising waste to cut down on natural resources and the emission of gas.
Meanwhile, the Attica Region operational management director Kostas Lemas, told ANA-MPA that "our goal is to have only 7-10 percent of waste be buried at landfills" and said the four units being built in Attica will process waste that cannot be recycled. "The consumer will not be called to pay over 55-60 euros per ton," he said, "but in reality, its management will cost even less, as part of the waste will be returned in the form of products or energy created. Today citizens essentially pay more because they only pay for landfill burial, a situation expressly forbidden by the EU."
 Police operations in Roma camps in EtoloakarnaniaPolice carried out operations in Roma camps in the western prefecture of Etoloakarnania on Tuesday as part of its operational planning to crack down crime.
The police checks took place in three Roma camps in Mesolonghi and Etoliko in the presence of a prosecutor and a Public Power Corporation (DEH) workcrew.
According to police, 78 people were checked and 24 people were taken to local police stations, one of whom was arrested on the charge of electric power theft.
According to police, operations will continue in Roma camps in Western Greece.
 Iraklio one of the 'smartest cities of the world', third year in a rowThe main city of Iraklio on the island of Crete made it on the 2014 list of the 21 "smartest cities of the world" for the third year in a row, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) announced on Monday.
The list is drawn up by ICF, a think-tank based in New York City which examines the effect of new technologies on the economic and social life of a city. This year, Heraklio was the only city in Europe to win a rank in this category.
Iraklio mayor Yannis Kourakis said that "based on international evaluations, Heraklio is building a strong and powerful competitive identity. We are pioneers in the sector of new technologies and that's why we have international recognition. It is a strategic choice in the city's development and we will continue this effort to the benefit of our citizens".
Indicators used to evaluate a city were its access to broadband, use of new technologies in the labour sector, use of new technologies by citizens in their daily activities and actions promoting the city at international competitions.
 Athens municipality cafes to join homeless charity's 'suspended coffee' initiativeThe Athens municipality's cafes are to participate in an initiative "There's a coffee waiting for you" organised by "Schedia" - a charity for the homeless - allowing the public to pay in advance for a cup of coffee that will be given to those unable to afford it.
The municipality's cafe on Lambraki hill and on Heldraich Square in Neos Kosmos, as well as on Skouze hill in the Kolonos district, will join a network of at least 34 cafes in all Greece that are part of the initiative organised by the magazine 'Schedia' that raises money for homeless people.
The initiative aims to help the socially marginalised, who are unable to afford even a cup of coffee and are condemned to staying indoors in isolation seeking to "mobilise" solidarity within neighbourhoods and get people out of the house, and out of states of sadness and depression.
According to 'Schedia' chief editor Christos Alefantis, poverty should not be a stigma and he stressed that the initiative and its network is constantly growing, while the initiative was a discreet and simple way for people to show that society cares.
The idea first started in Naples in southern Italy about 10 years ago, revived from the 'caffe sospeso' practice common around 100 years earlier, and has since spread to Bulgaria, Australia, Russia and other countries, growing rapidly in recent months.
 Tension and peddlers arrested outside Economic University in Patission streetTension peaked outside the Athens Economic University in Patission street, central Athens on Tuesday morning when police mounted an operation to combat the illegal street hawkers outside the university.
Foreign peddlers had spread miscellanous counterfeit goods on the pavement outside when police stepped in to arrest one of their number.
According to the police, the rest of the peddlers attacked police in their effort to avoid arrest and then entered the University's yard. Police followed them and arrested four while they were attempting to make their getaway from the exit on Antoniadou street.
A parked car equipped with foreign licence plates was also found in Antoniadou street that was full of products with which the illegal peddlers were being supplied.
 Antifascist groups to hold events at Aghios Panteleimonas on SaturdayThe Athens and Piraeus coalition of antifascist groups are holding a series of antifascist events at the Athens district of Aghios Panteleimonas on Saturday 26 October.
The events will start at 12 noon with a rally at the nearby Victoria square followed by a demonstration march to Aghios Panteleimonas with the participation of antiracist and migration organisations, antifascist movements, groups of Athenians, Athens municipality workers belonging to the party "Open City", and others.
A series of cultural events, concerts and street performances will take place in Aghios Panteleimonas square.
"This action is being held at a specific period during which the real face of far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) has been revealed. Our aim is to facilitate communication between the Athenians and the migrant groups who live in the area, which must become an area of creativity and solidarity instead of racist and fascist hatred," the head of the movement "Deport Racism" Thanassis Kourkoulas told ANA-MPA.
 Laid off school guards walk from Thessaloniki to Athens in protestFifteen school guards from Thessaloniki, protesting against the abolition of their jobs and their placement on labour reserve, arrived in Athens on Tuesday after covering a distance of over 500 km on foot.
The march, under the slogan "Marathon Race of Primary Surplus, Unemployment, Poverty and Destitution", was held in protest against the abolition of all school guard positions that led 2,234 employees to a reserve labour pool that is one step before outright unemployment.
The protesting school guards, who left from Thessaloniki on September 28, were joined by their colleagues in Athens at the Afidnes Toll Gate and ended their march in Athens' downtown Syntagma Square where a protest rally was held by the civil servants' umbrella trade union group ADEDY. Earlier, they had made a brief stop at the former ERT radio & television building in Agia Paraskevi, which still occupied by laid-off staff of the former broadcaster after ERT was shut down and replaced by a new public broadcaster.
The Attica Region local administration organization OTA employees held a three-hour work stoppage in a show of solidarity with the protesters.
 Traffickers, undocumented migrants arrestedTwo Iraqi nationals and a Palestinian who were on a car that accompanied a truck with 41 undocumented migrants were arrested at the Elefsina toll booths after concerted efforts by police on Tuesday.
The 41 in the truck included 27 Syrian nationals, 8 Afghanis, 5 Somalis and a Palestianian, including a 5-year-old and a 2-month-old baby.
According to police, the two Iraqis and the Palestinian trafficker are alleged to be members of a human trafficking ring which is involved in conveying undocumented migrants from Greece to other European countries, at a fee of 1,500-3,000 euros per person.
Those arrested were sent before the Athens prosecutor.
Winter Olympic Games
 General Consul in Moscow participates in Olympic torch relay for Sochi 2014MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
Greece's General Consul in Moscow, Ioannis Plotas, participated in the Olympic torch relay passing from one end of Russia to the other at the invitation of the Organising Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. He is the only Greek so far to which this honorary option has been given by the Russian side.
Plotas ran wearing the official costume of the torch relay runners in the historic city of Ivanovo, about 180 kilometres northeast of the Russian capital.
Speaking to the ANA-MPA and to Russian reporters, the General Consul in Moscow said he was pleased and moved to have been a part of "this unique and symbolic moment" that coincides with the conclusion of his tenure in Moscow.
 Generally fair on WednesdayGenerally fair, with limited visibility in northern Greece early in the morning. Variable winds, mostly northerly, ranging from 3 to 6 Beaufort. Temperatures from 6C in the north (14C on the islands) to 26C. In Athens, generally fair. North-northeasterly winds 4 to 6 Beaufort. Temperatures from 11C to 25C (2-3 degrees lower in the northern suburbs). In Thessaloniki, generally fair. Variable winds changing gradually to southeasterly, 3 to 4 Beaufort. Temperatures from 10C to 22C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: (Prime Minister Antonis Samaras) begging Merkel (Angela, German Chancellor).
DIMOKRATIA: Venizelos (Evangelos, Government Vice President and PASOK leader) threatens and blackmails.
EFIMERIDA TON STYNTAKTON: Cartel in foreign languages private schools!
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Owners called to pay again for the already paid illegal buildings!
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Early pensions targeted.
ESTIA: Every citizen and an accounting!
ETHNOS: Real estate transfer tax at 3 percent.
IMERISSIA: High speeds in Athens Stock Exchange.
KATHIMERINI: Agreement for the red lines.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Euphoria climate on bonds and shares improving.
RIZOSPASTIS: Mobilisations against the abolition of Sunday's holiday.
TA NEA: New cutbacks in merchants, PPC and banks employees' pensions.
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