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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-03-27

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

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

Thursday, 27 March 2014 Issue No: 4619

Politics

  • [00] The recession is ending and economy will recover in 2014, Staikouras tells Parliament

    CONTENTS

  • [01] FinMin Stournaras says no new taxes will be imposed
  • [02] Development Minister:Taxis deregulation framework will not change
  • [03] Omnibus bill to be voted until the end of the week
  • [04] Deputy Development Minister Mitarakis' schedule in Brussels
  • [05] Energy Minister Maniatis to visit Cyprus on Thursday and Friday
  • [06] Gov't vice president meets with AKEL general secretary
  • [07] SYRIZA leader Tsipras meets with Cyprus' Kyprianou
  • [08] DIMAR leader Kouvelis meets with visiting AKEL sec' general Kyprianou
  • [09] Tourism Minister Kefalogianni visits Paris
  • [10] UN envoy Nimetz holds meeting with Greek, FYROM representatives
  • [11] Parliament raises war reparations, forced occupation loan with visiting German MPs
  • [12] Parliamentary committee proposes lifting of immunity for four Golden Dawn MPs, as one is formally expelled from party
  • [13] Development minister on milk, medicine regulations
  • [14] ND, SYRIZA deputies resign to run as candidates in municipal and local elections
  • [15] Two Independent Greeks MPs become independent
  • [16] AN.EL leader Kammenos comments on decision of two party MPs to go independent
  • [17] Deputy Foreign Minister receives members of German Parliament Committee
  • [18] 'Potami' party leader launches tour of Epirus, talks to dairy farmers
  • [19] Dep. Development Minister rules out adopting dairy farmers' proposals for milk
  • [20] Private sector union GSEE and employers' associations sign new collective labour agreement
  • [21] KKE on the collective labour contract agreement
  • [22] Piraeus Bank completes book-building process raises 1.75 bln euros from international investors
  • [23] Development minister on issuing of bank loans through funding tools in Feb.
  • [24] Intralot says turnover up 12 pct in 2013
  • [25] Mytilineos Group reports 35 pct rise in 2013 EBITDA
  • [26] Lamda Development submits improved 915-mln-euro offer for Hellinikon
  • [27] First hydroplane flights could begin in 2015, businessman tells dev't meeting
  • [28] Boat schedules expected to be disrupted by Seamen's Federation strike on Thursday
  • [29] ADMIE awards subcontracts in project of linking Cycladic islands with mainland power grid
  • [30] Pegasus signs 80-mln-euro bond loan with three banks
  • [31] Agreement reached to save nonprofit Errikos Dinan hospital in Athens
  • [32] Greek exports 0.2 pct down in 2013
  • [33] Tourist arrivals up 10.6 pct in Jan.
  • [34] National Insurance reports higher pre-tax profits in 2013
  • [35] Autohellas reports lower 2013 profits
  • [36] Korinth Pipeworks reports losses in 2013
  • [37] Greek stocks end slightly higher
  • [38] Greek bond market closing report
  • [39] ADEX closing report
  • [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [41] Public consultation for free wifi access network from Thursday
  • [42] Greek modern art featuring crisis inaugurated at BOZAR in Brussels
  • [43] 21st Athens Cycling Tour on April 6
  • [44] Greek consumers change their purchasing habits, survey shows
  • [45] Environment ministry, GAEC sign protocol for monitoring radioactivity in surface waters
  • [46] Health indicators for Greek public show high antibiotics use, smoking
  • [47] Flu death virus reaches 111
  • [48] Inmates in Korydallos Prison hospital warn they will go on hunger strike
  • [49] Athens to proceed legally to protection of 'Prosfygika' buildings in Alexandras Ave.
  • [50] Cardboard boxes containing used gas canisters cause stir in Maroussi
  • [51] Prisoner appears before Amfissa prosecutor after killing guard
  • [52] 17-year-old arrested for human trafficking
  • [53] Inmates in Korydallos Prison hospital warn they will go on hunger strike
  • [54] Police investigates three-year old boy's death
  • [55] Mother and baby found dead under unidentified conditions
  • [56] Traffickers and undocumented migrants arrested at Igoumenitsa port
  • [57] Overcast on Thursday
  • [58] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras (L) stressed that the start of recovery for the Greek economy is expected in 2014, while addressing Parliament on Wednesday. Staikouras was speaking during the debate on a draft bill on the accounts and balance sheet for 2012, which was passed with the support of coalition government MPs.

    "The goals of fiscal policy are being achieved. The country, after many years, has achieved a primary surplus that is sustainable, significant and substantially higher than original and later predictions. The economic climate has improved. The cost of borrowing has been reduced. Businesses are starting to draw capital from the markets, are starting to issue bond loans. Deposits are gradually returning to the domestic banking system, even though the losses since the start of the crisis remain high," Staikouras said.

    The minister also cited figures showing that the state had done its utmost, within the constraints of the crisis, to boost liquidity in the economy, paying 6.2 billion euros in overdue state debts and returning 3.1 billion euros in taxes, as well as spending approximately 6.7 billion euros on public investments.

    Attacking main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Staikouras said that the party's pessimistic predictions about 2014 had been proved wrong, since there was no fiscal gap and no financing gap, nor any additional budget. Replying, SYRIZA MP Panagiotis Lafazanis accused the government of congratulating itself on a primary surplus that had made the recession deeper and swelled the ranks of the unemployed. Other SYRIZA MPs noted that the government was talking about a primary surplus "while concealing the 4.4 billion euros in outstanding debts owed by the state, 812 million euros owed in VAT returns and when 375,000 pensions and lump sums had yet to be settled".


  • [01] FinMin Stournaras says no new taxes will be imposed

    The government will not impose any new taxes, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said in an interview to private TV station Skai. Asked on the course of the country's fiscal adjustment, Stournaras said: "In no way will we impose new taxes." The Greek Finance minister also rejected main opposition SYRIZA's claims that the government is preparing a new memorandum after the euroelections. "We will not impose any new taxes no matter what," Stournaras said, adding that "the troika was demanding fiscal measures worth 3.0 billion euros for 2014, but following an eight-month negotiation the country's lenders not only accepted that no new measures were necessary but agreed there was room for a slight social benefit through a primary budget surplus". Stournaras said that the troika acknowledged that the government's forecasts were better than theirs and expressed his confidence that a discussion on lightening the country's debt could begin in a Eurogroup meeting scheduled for May. "Our aims is an even slight reduction of interest rates and a roll over of debt payments. This is a slight haircut". He added that the troika will return in the summer and that talks will focus on economic growth. Commenting on whether Greece will return to international capital markets, Stournaras said the government "was almost ready", but he underlined that this could happen probably after the Euro-elections. The Finance minister rejected the main opposition party criticism over a primary budget surplus saying that the surplus was achieved through spending cuts and higher revenues. Stournaras acknowledged that was still a problem of tax evasion and avoidance among higher incomes, but noted that significant changes have been made in tax administration. "The most painful things are now behind us," he added.

    [02] Development Minister:Taxis deregulation framework will not change

    Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis met on Wednesday with the presidents of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) Andreas Andreadis and the National Federation of Taxis Thymios Lyberopoulos. The meeting focused on the transport sector issues included in the OECD's toolkit as well as the bill to be tabled in parliament within the next days. Hatzidakis clarified that "the taxis deregulation framework will not change?. Two changes included in the bill involve the abolition of cars minimum engine capacity and the reduction of private cars minimum leasing period. The minimum car engine will be 1500cc and the minimum leasing period will be 6 hours instead of 12 that is today. However, further improvements may be applied, according to sources.

    [03] Omnibus bill to be voted until the end of the week

    The omnibus bill that will include the points of the recent agreement between the government and the troika of the country's international lenders is expected to be voted under an emergency procedure until April 1, given that the troika has requested the approval of the prior measures in order for the tranche of the aid to be disbursed. Meanwhile the three categories of beneficiaries eligible for the so called "social dividend" from the primary surplus have been finalised. [00] Development ministry source confident MPs will back milk measures, warns there is little room for changes A development and competitiveness ministry official on Wednesday said he was confident that MPs will vote in favour of proposed measures for fresh milk once they have understood them, while noting that the agreement with the troika representing Greece's lenders left little room to manoeuvre in terms of changes and modifications. He said that some meetings with MPs had already taken place to explain the changes for the milk market and did not rule out further meetings and briefings. The same source said that the disagreements will be overcome when the final measures are tabled in Parliament because those objecting will understand the essence of the measure, especially the overwhelming advantages for local dairy farmers and industries of 'one-day' milk and the Greek product label.

    [04] Deputy Development Minister Mitarakis' schedule in Brussels

    Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarakis is visiting Brussels as part of the events planned for the EU-US Summit. On Wednesday at 19.00 he will attend the event co-organized by the Permanent Greek Delegation to the EU and the US Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AMCHAM EU) and at 20.00 he will meet with the Executive Board of the Chamber to discuss the prospects and the EU-US ongoing negotiations regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). On Thursday, at 13.00 he will be the keynote speaker at an event organized by AMCHAM EU on "TTIP revealed: Fact and Fiction." During his stay in Brussels, Mitarakis will also meet with the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht. The meeting, which will take place on Wednesday at 15.00, is part of the preparation for the regular session of the Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs (Trade) of the EU, to be held in May in the Belgian capital. [00] Macedonia-Thrace Minister Karaoglou's schedule on Thursday Macedonia and Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou will receive the Metropolitan of Proussa and Director of the Theological School of Halki Elpidophoros on Thursday at 10.00. At 16.00, he will meet with New Democracy MEP Rodi Kratsa at the Ministry. At 19.00, he will address the nationwide official presentation of the 9th International Marathon "Alexander the Great", which will take place at Thessaloniki Olympic Museum.

    [05] Energy Minister Maniatis to visit Cyprus on Thursday and Friday

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Thursday and Friday will visit Cyprus to participate in the 3rd Energy Symposium, organized by the Institute of Energy for South-East Europe (IENE). Maniatis will also have a series of meetings with Cypriot officials. On Thursday he will meet with the president of the Parliament Yiannakis Omirou while at 11.30 he will be received by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades. He will also have meetings with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Nicos Kouyialis. On Thrusday evening, Maniatis will attend the official dinner of the symposium, where Anastasiades is expected to refer to his government's initiatives on energy issues. On Friday, Maniatis will deliver a speech at the Symposium, which will focus among others on Cyprus' energy strategy as part of the European energy policy for 2020, Southeastern Europe's energy corridors and the role of Cyprus, the new energy mix and the geopolitical impact on the region and the basic energy infrastructure for the exploitation of Cyprus hydrocarbon deposits.

    [06] Gov't vice president meets with AKEL general secretary

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday received Cyprus' Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) General Secretary Andros Kyprianou. Talks focused on the Cyprus issue.

    [07] SYRIZA leader Tsipras meets with Cyprus' Kyprianou

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and general secretary of the central committee of Cyprus' AKEL Andros Kyprianou on Wednesday expressed their concern over the course of negotiations on the Cyprus issue, after a meeting in Athens. Tsipras said that the Republic of Cyprus is experiencing a double hostageship - territorial and economic - from the policies implemented by the troika, which has imposed destructive policies to the people. In this context, efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue take new dimensions, he noted adding that SYRIZA's main position is that conversations are always welcome, however, critical times require special attention so as not to lead to an unfair solution. The solution to be found, he stressed, must be accepted by the people of Cyprus. Tsipras added that SYRIZA supports the efforts of AKEL and will assist them towards a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single citizenship and a single international identity. Kyprianou stressed that Greece is the main supporter in this difficult struggle for the liberation and reunification of Cyprus and added that the fact that AKEL supports the process of difficult negotiations does not mean it is not aware of the difficulties and problems that exist. Kyprianou noted that his party is working so as to minimize the risks so that an agreed solution can be achieved, but noted that the Turkish Cypriots do not move from their intransigent positions.

    [08] DIMAR leader Kouvelis meets with visiting AKEL sec' general Kyprianou

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis met on Wednesday with visiting general secretary of the Central Committee of AKEL party of Cyprus Andros Kyprianou. The two officials' meeting focused on the course of the negotiations within EU on the Cyprus issue and the austerity policies implemented in Greece and Cyprus as well as the overall course of the European Union. After the meeting, Kyprianou stated that the negotiation on the solution of Cyprus issue is difficult and needs caution given that the indications are not optimistic. "The efforts must continue provided that Cyprus is going through a difficult period and a prospect may arise only though a solution to the Cyprus issue," he added. On his part, Kouvelis expressed his support to the negotiations between the two communities noting the positive elements of the previous negotiation should be kept. "It is a difficult effort but it must continue in order a solution to be found otherwise Cyprus will be kept hostage. Cyprus' single sovereignty should not be disputed under any conditions". Referring to the economic crisis and the euroelections, Kyprianou expressed his party's disagreement with the implemented policy which he called an impasse adding that it maintains the vicious circle of the recession. "In the euroelections, people should send a strong message for change of policy," he said. Kouvelis underlined that Europe must change course, adding that its prospect is to convince the citizens that its unity is necessary.

    [09] Tourism Minister Kefalogianni visits Paris

    PARIS (ANA-MPA / O. Tsipira)

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni will meet here on Wednesday afternoon, the second day of her visit to the French capital, with UNESCO Director-General Irena Bokova to discuss, among others, the organizing of a conference on "Culture-Tourism-Economic Growth" in Athens next fall in cooperation with the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO. Earlier in the day, she met with French National Tourism Organization ATOUT FRANCE general director Christian Mantei and, later in the evening, she will attend a concert by Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti held in the context of Greek EU Presidency events. On Tuesday, first day of her visit, Kefalogianni attended a special event marking the March 25 national holiday hosted by the Greek embassy for the first time since 2011, when celebration events were canceled as a result of the economic crisis. Speaking to ANA-MPA, Kefalogianni said that events like the scheduled concert are an attempt to show Greece's modern image, "the image of a country that tries, creates and stands on its feet," adding that "our goal is that Greece make a dynamic comeback to the tourism markets." The meeting with Atout France's general director focused on accommodation categorization, licensing and inspection procedures, as well as, on "destination contracts". According to Kefalogianni, Greece wishes to implement initiatives modeled after France's "destination contracts", placing regional tourism efforts under the umbrella of the national tourism effort, noting that French know-how will be valuable toward this end.

    [10] UN envoy Nimetz holds meeting with Greek, FYROM representatives

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations Secretary General's envoy on the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM), met with representatives of Greece and FYROM, Ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis and Zoran Jolevski, respectively, on Wednesday. Nimetz said after the meeting at the UN headquarters that "we had a meeting of the representatives of Greece and FYROM in these talks, under the auspices of the Secretary General, for the issue of the name". As Nimetz said, "We met for two-and-a-half hours, we re-examined the positions of both sides. Both sides spoke of everything, and with sincerity. We re-examined some of the previous ideas that had been raised at the table. Both sides provided their views on them, we discussed how the procedure will go ahead. Both sides have expressed their desire for these talks to be speeded up". He then stressed that "despite the fact that we have not reached an agreement, evidently, (the UN) is a forum in which both sides feel comfortable for the talks to be continued. We spoke of a meeting, possibly in May. I also proposed that I go possibly to the region, later than that, recognising that elections are imminent in both countries. Therefore, in my opinion, I should possibly visit the region after the elections and the results are out. That's all for the scheduling. There are no specific results, but we had a lively and sincere exchange of views from both sides". Vassilakis, speaking to ANA-MPA, said that "we took advantage of the opportunity to see where we are. I also had the opportunity not long ago of meeting, here at UN headquarters, the Organisation's Secretary General and Nimetz, whom I briefed on the visit to Skopje of the (government) vice president and Foreign Minister Venizelos. From then on, since both sides requested the activation of the procedure of the United Nations, I think that Nimetz is thinking of holding a meeting in New York, maybe in May, after the elections in Skopje. Then, he is thinking, maybe, of visiting the region, towards the end of June".

    [11] Parliament raises war reparations, forced occupation loan with visiting German MPs

    The issues of the war reparations and a forced loan extracted from Greece by the Nazi regime during WWII occupation were raised on Wednesday by Greek MPs, during talks with visiting German colleagues attending a joint meeting of the Greek Parliament's Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs and the Special Standing Committee on European Affairs to discuss the establishment of a Greece-Germany Youth Organization. In response to the issue of the WWII reparations, the chairman of the German Bundestag Committee on the Affairs of the European Union, Gunther Krichbaum (CDU/CSU), highlighted his country's contribution in the context of European integration. He underlined that Germany's position on the issue is known and that the peoples' reconciliation passes through European integration, in which his country has invested greatly. Krichbaum noted that "you should look toward the future, to a united Europe and the challenges lying ahead," adding that, in contrast to German public opinion, the German Bundestag has displayed solidarity with Greece based on the conviction that Europe needs everybody and everybody needs to be united. The Greek MPs underlined that Greece is the only country that has not received war reparations, noting that the issue of the forced occupation loan was not settled. Krichbaum responded that he is aware of the relevant discussion underway in Greece, adding that Germany's position was expressed by German President Joachim Gauck during his recent visit to the country, namely, that the issue has ended with the "Two plus Four Treaty". On his part, Special Standing Committee on European Affairs chairman Yiannis Tragakis said that the German president was not so negative and announced to the visiting German MPs that the Greek Parliament will set up a committee within the day to examine the German reparations' issue in depth and reach conclusions. Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP and Special Standing Committee on European Affairs deputy chairman Dimitris Papadimoulis expressed appreciation to the German leftist party Die Linke for highlighting the war reparations and forced occupation loan issues. During the meeting, references were made to the economic crisis and the situation in Greece, with Krichbaum underlining that "many feel as if in a dark room, a dark cave. But in reality it is a long tunnel and light can be seen at the end of it, which proves that after tough reforms we can have results." He also said that the German government is convinced that Greece is on the right track and could return to the bond markets for the first time since the debt crisis. Speaking on behalf of the Die Linke party, German MP Andrej Hunko said that in Germany there are different positions as regards the crisis, adding that his party is proud of SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' bid for the European Commission presidency. He also clarified that his party voted against the bailout packages for Greece in the German Parliament because the terms set were not the right ones and because his party is against privatisations.

    [12] Parliamentary committee proposes lifting of immunity for four Golden Dawn MPs, as one is formally expelled from party

    The Special Permanent Committee on Parliamentary Ethics on Wednesday recommended in favour of stripping ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) MPs Nikolaos Michos, Antonis Gregos, Artemis Mattheopoulos and Stathis Boukouras of their parliamentary immunity in order to be tried in court for charges including gun and drug possession and forming a criminal organization. Voting in favour of the recommendation were all party representatives on the committee except for those of Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, who voted "present", and Golden Dawn MPs, who voted against it. Speaking before the committee, Michos, who is facing charges for the possession of drugs and guns, he said that he owned a gun for his protection and that he knew nothing about the drugs found in his rented apartment. Gregos said that his prosecution for forming a criminal organisation is politically motivated and that the case file includes no incriminating evidence against him. Mattheopoulos and Boukouras are also facing charges for forming a criminal organisation. Boukouras has left the party to become independent. On Wednesday, jailed Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos formally notified Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis by letter that the MP was expelled from the party and is no longer a member of the party's parliamentary group.

    [13] Development minister on milk, medicine regulations

    The regulations promoted on milk, medicine and other issues, which are part of the OECD toolbox that will be implemented through a draft law, will benefit consumers, and when MPs understand this they will support them, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said in a message Wednesday to the deputies of the coalition government reacting to the measures. The regulations will work to the benefit of consumers, "and when the colleagues of the majority read these arrangements they shall support them," Hatzidakis said. The minister made the statement after the conclusion of the monthly regular meeting with the Hellenic Bank Association and added that "I cannot imagine that (the deputies) will vote in Greek Parliament in support of expensive milk and expensive medicines." The regulations should have been passed decades ago, he asserted.

    [14] ND, SYRIZA deputies resign to run as candidates in municipal and local elections

    New Democracy deputy Aris Spiliotopoulos on Wednesday announced his resignation from his parliamentary seat to run for mayor of Athens. In the mean time, SYRIZA deputy Rena Dourou, who is also the main opposition party's candidate for the Attica Region, notified the president of the Parliament of her decision to resign.

    [15] Two Independent Greeks MPs become independent

    Independent Greeks MPs Chryssoula Giatagana and Constantinos Yovanopoulos in a letter to parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday announced their decision to leave the party and become independent. Independent deputy Loverdos says he will not vote for milk and medicine regulation in its current form Former PASOK minister and currently independent deputy Andreas Loverdos said that he would vote for the milk and medicine regulation only if changes were made. "I will not vote for the regulations on milk and medicine in their current form - based on information available so far," Loverdos told private TV station ANT1. However, he said he would wait to see the final version of the bill.

    [16] AN.EL leader Kammenos comments on decision of two party MPs to go independent

    Opposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) leader Panos Kammenos on Wednesday commented on a decision taken by two of his MPs to leave the party while retaining their seat in Parliament. Kammenos was speaking during an extraordinary meeting of his party's parliamentary group to discuss the situation arising after the departure of the MPs Chryssoula Giatagana and Costas Giovanopoulos, announced earlier in the day. According to ANA-MPA sources, Kammenos spoke about "all kinds of pressures" that were exerted on certain MPs, noting that "those who can tolerate it, stay on board and those who can not, abandon ship." Giatagana and Giovanopoulos had stated the reasons that led them to their decision in a joint statement, alleging that they were treated like "nuisances". Giatagana had also expressed strong objections to the party decision to back the candidacy of Apostolos Tzitzikostas for Central Macedonia regional governor in May's local elections.

    [17] Deputy Foreign Minister receives members of German Parliament Committee

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Wednesday received the members of the German Parliament Committee of the Affairs of the European Union who are visiting Greece in the framework of the Greek EU Presidency. Kourkoulas briefed the German deputies regarding the Greek EU Presidency's progress, the so far positive result in connection with important legislation promotion in the European Parliament and Council, and the organisational structure of the presidency and its total cost, which he estimates is going to be low. The German deputies congratulated the Greek government for the successful progress of the Greek EU Presidency while they underlined that Germany never doubted Greece's ability to cope with that obligation. Discussion also focused on the presidency's priorities in relation with immigration, border protection and the Integrated Maritime Policy. In addition they discussed Western Balkan expansion and the progression of the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, while Kourkoulas briefed the German MPs regarding the Greek position in connection with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM) naming issue.

    [18] 'Potami' party leader launches tour of Epirus, talks to dairy farmers

    The head of the newly-formed 'Potami' party Stavros Theodorakis on Wednesday started a tour of Epirus in northwestern Greece, meeting with dairy farmers in four of the provinces prefectures and discussing the issue that has arisen with the planned changes to market rules for fresh milk.

    Financial News

    [19] Dep. Development Minister rules out adopting dairy farmers' proposals for milk

    Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Thanassis Skordas on Wednesday effectively ruled out the adoption of dairy farmers' proposals for the fresh milk market, while speaking to the private radio station 'Vima FM'. "The proposal made by livestock farmers is that the description 'milk of the day' be given to the five-day milk that exists today. This proposal cannot be accepted and I think we will go to Parliament with the proposal we have submitted. At the end of the day, it is Parliament that must decide but there cannot be a change to the essence of the agreement [with the troika]," he said. The deputy minister predicted that the financial benefit for consumers "may be greater [than five cents]" since at least 6 pct of the current cost in distribution and trade of milk was the result of returns and about 15 pct was due to the specific distribution channel, "or in other words, its sale only through shops from the shelf". With respect to non-prescription medication, Skordas said that prices for these in pharmacies will be deregulated while the new measures would scrap previous administrative obstacles, such as laws stipulating that partners in pharmacies must each have an equal share or restrictions on the minimum distance between pharmacies.

    [20] Private sector union GSEE and employers' associations sign new collective labour agreement

    Greece's private sector union GSEE and employers' organizations on Wednesday signed the new national general collective labour agreement. Under the new agreement, effective for a year, the basic terms of previous agreements such the marriage allowance and the 13th and 14th salary in the private sector are preserved. It was also agreed that fathers would also be able to work less hours in order to look after their children, in case the mother was self-employed. Social partners did not discuss the issue of minimum wage, which is now set by law. Nevertheless, a special clause was introduced according to which if this legislation changed while the current agreement is in effect, then direct negotiations would start regarding the wage levels of the national collective agreement. "We will fight to restore wages and labour relations," GSEE head Yiannis Panagopoulos said after the meeting. He said the possibility of new interventions in the social security system and the labour relations was "unthinkable". He referred to the reduced minimum wage for young employees, saying it did not help reduce youth unemployment. The new agreement is effective as of January 1, 2014 until December 31, 2014. Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis welcomed the signing of the new agreement. "This confirms the collective autonomy of the social partners and the effective dynamics it can have when there is a spirit of maturity, cooperation and mutual trust," he said in a statement.

    [21] KKE on the collective labour contract agreement

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday commented on the new collective labour contract agreement reached by private sector umbrella trade union GSEE and the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), noting that it condemns the workers and the unemployed to poverty. The agreement is in harmony with the demands of the monopolies, the ND-PASOK government designs and the EU 2014-2020 strategy, the KKE underlined, noting that it sacrifices the workers' and people's rights in the name of the capitalist recovery and profits.

    [22] Piraeus Bank completes book-building process raises 1.75 bln euros from international investors

    Piraeus Bank on Wednesday announced the successful completion of a book-building process outside Greece, with the participation of institutional and other special category investors. The bank, in an announcement, said that it had placed 1,029,411,764 new common shares at a price of 1.70 euros per share in the book-building process, raising 1.75 billion euros from the market. A bank's extraordinary general shareholders' meeting, scheduled for March 28, is expected to approve the share capital increase plan. Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Ltd, Deutsche Bank AG London Branch and Goldman Sachs International will act as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners, Mediobanca-Banca de Creditor Finanziario SpA and UBS Ltd will act as joint bookrunners in the share capital increase plan and BNP Paribas as co-lead manager of the issue.

    [23] Development minister on issuing of bank loans through funding tools in Feb.

    The issuing of loans by banks that are given through funding tools, whose supervision is in the hands of the Development ministry, shows an increase of almost 10 percent in February, compared to January, according to Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Wednesday. Speaking after the conclusion of the monthly meeting he held with the Hellenic Bank Association, the minister stressed that the loans that are provided through the funding tools amounted to 1.340 billion euros at the end of February. Replying to a question on whether the National Bank is examing the possibility of going ahead with an increase of its share capital, a senior official of the Bank said "the capital increases take place in various periods of time. We chose the internal creation of capital and then we shall see". However, the senior official further said that the plan with which the National Bank will cover its additional capital needs that resulted from the stress test will be submitted by April 15, as is anticipated by the Bank of Greece's time limit.

    [24] Intralot says turnover up 12 pct in 2013

    Intralot Group on Wednesday reported a 12 pct increase in its 2013 turnover to 1.539 billion euros and said that its annual turnover - excluding foreign exchange rate fluctuations - totaled 1.619 billion euros, up 17.9 pct from 2012. Pre-tax earnings totaled 53.6 million euros, while after tax and minorities results showed a loss of 4.6 million euros, hit by foreign exchange rate fluctuations. EBITDA rose 9.7 pct to 194.8 million euros, while cash flows totaled 81.3 million euros in 2013. Net debt fell by 30.7 million euros to 397.2 million euros. Parent turnover rose 8.1 pct to 150.9 million euros, while EBITDA grew 5.8 pct to 23.1 million euros and after tax results showed a loss of 100,000 euros.

    [25] Mytilineos Group reports 35 pct rise in 2013 EBITDA

    Mytilineos Group on Wednesday reported a 35 pct increase in its 2013 EBITDA to 231.9 million euros. The group said that net profits after tax and minorities totaled 22.5 million euros last year, from 19.1 million in 2012. Mytilineos Group said a rapid decline in net borrowing and an improving credit profile of the group, following a reduction of net borrowing to 510 million euros, from 725 million and the transformation of short-term debt to long-term, ensured the group's further growth. The EPC project sector recorded the best performance in 2013, with METKA reporting a turnover of 606.5 million euros, up from 547.5 million euros in 2012, while EBITDA rose to 101.9 million euros from 92.7 million in 2012. The metals sector faced strong challenges in 2013, affected by weak aluminium prices, a strong euro exchange rate, rising energy costs and strong tax pressures. Turnover fell to 435.9 million euros, from 506. million euros in 2012, while EBITDA jumped to 48.2 million euros from 29 million euros over the same periods, respectively. The energy sector significantly boosted its results in 2013, with turnover falling by 17 pct to 369.1 million euros, while EBITDA jumped to 89.1 million euros, accounting for 38.4 pct of the Group's EBITDA.

    [26] Lamda Development submits improved 915-mln-euro offer for Hellinikon

    Lamda Development on Wednesday submitted an improved offer, totalling 915 million euros, for Hellinikon (Elliniko) and committed to spend another 1.25 billion euros for the construction of all necessary infrastructure of a Single Metropolitan Park in the area, site of the former Athens international airport. Hellenic Republic Asset Develompent Fund (TAIPED), the state privatisation agency, said in an announcement that the new offer was 25 pct higher than the initial offer and surpassed the evaluation of an independent firm (American Appraisal). Lamda Development pledged to pay 33 pct of the offer (around 302 million euros) immediately with the completion of the deal and the remaining sum within 10 years. The offer binds the company with letters of guarantee and legal clauses for the implementation of an investment of at last 5.7 billion euros. The offer price does not include a 30 pct participation of the Greek state in future profits of the investor on the condition that accumulated return of the investment surpassed 15 pct. The Fund said that the next step in the process was evaluation by the state's financial advisors Citigroup and Piraeus Bank, with the help by Happold Consulting. TAIPED will decide, in the next few days, whether to declare or not Lamda Development and preferential investor.

    [27] First hydroplane flights could begin in 2015, businessman tells dev't meeting

    The hope that the first hydroplane flights of "K2 Smart Jets" could begin in 2015 was expressed in Thessaloniki on Wednesday by the company's managing director, Andreas Karotsieris, addressing a cruise event organised by the municipality and the Metropolitan Development Company (MATh). He revealed that the company "has been approved to license" a total of 16 waterways in the country through its subsidiary, "Greek Waterways". Replying to a relevant question by the ANA-MPA, Karotsieris stressed that the company's 10-year operational plan, budgeted at 170 million euros, anticipates a total of 48 connections with 19 hydroplanes. Karotsieris announced that a cooperation agreement has been signed with a waterways/hydroplanes manager in Turkey. The company has already received the go-ahead with the licensing of a waterway in the northern Greek Vegoritida lake, while it is waiting for corresponding approvals, so as to schedule the required procedures in Katerini, Kassandra and Porto Karras (Halkidiki), as well as in Alexandroupoli. Interest also exists for the Kerkini Lake, northern Greece. In parallel, the company is proposing corresponding licensing for Mount Athos as well, while in a next phase it will also begin procedures for Kavala, Kastoria, Volos, the islands of Skiathos, Skyros, Skopelos and other regions.

    [28] Boat schedules expected to be disrupted by Seamen's Federation strike on Thursday

    The Greek Seamen's Federation (PNO) decided to go on strike as of the early hours of Thursday on ships whose owner companies owe back pay to their crews, as part of protest actions first announced last week. According to ANA-MPA sources, the union members' strike actions will begin in the morning with ships running schedules in the Argo-Saronic Gulf while from the afternoon on they will gradually spread to scheduled runs to the Aegean Islands. PNO had set a deadline of Thursday, March 20, for NEL Lines, ANEK, Hellenic Seaways, Ventouris Sea Lines, ANMEZ and LANE Lines shipping companies to pay the crews' salaries. Blue Star and Superfast Ferries' parent company, Attica Group, and Minoan Lines announced that they had never delayed payments of their ships' crews, while according to PNO administration, NEL Lines expressed its intention to fully pay the crews' salaries. For that purpose, the Federation said, NEL made a written commitment to pay the amount of 1,200,000 euros that it is entitled to receive from Millennium Bank and Piraeus Bank. PNO has also announced two 24-hour-strikes, one that will be held on the day that a bill in connection with cruiseship regulations is tabled in Parliament, while the other is scheduled for April 9, as part of the general strike called by the GSEE union in the private sector.

    [29] ADMIE awards subcontracts in project of linking Cycladic islands with mainland power grid

    The Public Power Corporation's power transmission operator (ADMIE) board of directors on Wednesday announced the winning bids for sections of a projects to connect the Cycladic Islands with the mainland. The subcontract concerns subterranean and underwater 150 kV linkage with the islands of Tinos, Syros, Mykonos and Paros, a contract awarded to Hellenic Cables S.A. The subcontarct related to the SVC reactive power regulator was awarded to ABB S.A./AB. The linking of the Cyclades will lower energy costs on the islands, which currently depend on local power units using costly fossil fuels with great environmental impact; improve power supply security; and utilise more efficiently the islands' renewable energy resources. The contracts will be signed after the Court of Audit conducts the necessary review.

    [30] Pegasus signs 80-mln-euro bond loan with three banks

    Pegasus Publications on Wednesday announced the signing of an agreement with National Bank, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank for a joint mortgage bond loan worth 80 million euros. The bond loan is divided into 80,000,000 bonds of a nominal value of 1.0 euro each. The company said it will use 86.3 pct of the new money to refinance existing bank debt and the remaining 13.7 pct to cover its business needs.

    [31] Agreement reached to save nonprofit Errikos Dinan hospital in Athens

    The Hellenic Red Cross, the ministry of Health and Piraeus Bank on Wednesday signed a memorandum of collaboration with the Errikos Dinan (Henry Dunant) Hospital in Athens, to resolve problems stemming from backpay owed staff and from other operational issues. "I think it is the beginning of the hospital's salvation," Red Cross board director Grigoris Kostaras said, calling the agreement of historic importance for both the hospital's founder - the Hellenic Red Cross - and the hospital itself, which operates as a nonprofit, public benefit foundation for the general public. Thanking Dr. Kostaras and the board of managers, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said they "exhibited an outstanding collaborative spirit of responsibility" and also thanked the bank, which he said came "with open ears and an understanding of the hospital's great problems." Addressing the minister, who "was an excellent former student of mine" at the University of Athens, Dr. Kostaras thanked the state "for its willingness in resolving the long-term issue of the nonprofit foundation Errikos Dinan, which has been in debt to the hilt and ready to shut down."

    [32] Greek exports 0.2 pct down in 2013

    Greek exports totalled 27.28 billion euros in 2013, down 0.2 pct compared with the historic record of 27.34 billion euros in the previous year, only the second fall in the last decade, the Panhellenic Exporters Association said on Wednesday. In a report, the Association said that a 5.2 pct decline in imports helped in the improvement of the country's trade balance by 11.5 pct in 2013 and stressed that these figures signalled the strengthening of export activity in the formation of the country's Gross Domestic Product. More analytically, exports of products accounted for 15.07 pct of GDP, while exports of products and services accounted for 28.93 pct of GDP, the best performance in decades. In its report, said that exports - excluding oil products - fell by 2.1 pct in 2013 to 16.82 billion euros, from 17.19 billion euros in the previous year. This decline reflected mainly a fall in Greek exports to third countries (-4.2 pct) despite a 4.9 pct increase in Greek exports to EU member-states. Exports to third countries accounted for 53.6 pct of total exports and exports to EU states accounted for 46.4 pct.

    [33] Tourist arrivals up 10.6 pct in Jan.

    The number of foreign visitors in the country totalled 404,000 in January this year, up 10.6 pct from the same month in 2013, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday. The central bank, in a report, said that tourism revenues jumped 22.4 pct in the first month of 2014, with revenues from EU citizens rising 17.4 pct or by 10 million euros, and revenues from other countries rising 26.9 pct or by 19 million euros. On the other hand, tourism revenues from the US fell by 3.2 pct to 10 million euros. Tourist arrivals from eurozone states totaled 103,000, up 26.8 pct in January, arrivals from EU states fell by 1.6 pct and arrivals from the US dropped 29 pct to 10,000.

    [34] National Insurance reports higher pre-tax profits in 2013

    National Insurance on Wednesday reported pre-tax profits of 111.5 million euros in 2013, from 90.9 million euros in the previous year, continuing a stable and rising pre-writedown profitability trend which began in 2011. Premium production totalled 630.9 million euros last year, slightly down from 639.3 million euros in 2012. Based on international accounting standards, premium production was 545.3 million euros in 2013, from 617 million euros in 2012. National Insurance said compensations paid last year surpassed 400 million euros. Premium production in the life insurance sector grew 11.3 pct to 375 million euros, raising its market share to 22.8 pct, while in the general insurance sector production fell to 255.9 million euros from 302.7 million euros in 2012, with a market share at 11.6 pct.

    [35] Autohellas reports lower 2013 profits

    Autohellas on Wednesday said its consolidated after tax and minorities earnings totalled 6.5 million euros in 2013, from 8.1 million euros in 2012, reflecting higher tax burdens. Consolidated turnover eased to 151.4 million euros in 2013, from 152 million in the previous year, a decline of 0.4 pct, while consolidated pre-tax earnings grew 14 pct to 13.1 million euros. The company has established activities in five countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Serbia and Montenegro. Its foreign activities accounted for 20.6 pct of total turnover and 30 pct of consolidated pre-tax profits. EBITDA totalled 68.7 million euros, while a strong cash flow allowed investments on fleet renewal worth 41.7 million euros and a decline in the company's bank debt by 45.5 million euros.

    [36] Korinth Pipeworks reports losses in 2013

    Korinth Pipeworks on Wednesday reported after tax and minorities losses totalling 6.1 million euros in 2013, or losses of 0.049 euros per share, after earnings of 9.7 million euros in the previous year. Sales fell by 29.5 pct to 165.4 million euros last year, from 234.7 million euros in 2012, while gross earnings fell 49.3 pct to 22.4 million euros. Consolidated EBITDA was 4.6 million euros, sharply down from 21.3 million euros in 2012, while consolidated pre-tax losses totalled 3.4 million euros in 2013, from earnings of 11.8 million euros in the previous year. Net bank debt was 32.5 million euros, up from 22.4 million euros in 2012.

    [37] Greek stocks end slightly higher

    Greek stocks moved slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with buying activity focusing on bank shares following the successful completion of a book building process by Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank. The composite index of the market rose 0.21 pct to end at 1,331.96 points, after falling as much as 0.54 pct during the day. Turnover rose sharply to 169.61 million euros, boosted by transactions in Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank shares. The Large Cap index rose 0.31 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.16 pct higher. Titan (4.35 pct), Alpha Bank (4.29 pct), National Bank (2.34 pct) and Intralot (2.22 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus (5.94 pct), Eurobank Properties (3.30 pct) and Motor Oil (2.62 pct) suffered losses. The Construction (2.87 pct), Food (1.94 pct) and Commerce (1.69 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Real Estate (3.02 pct), Oil (2.51 pct) and Telecoms (1.55 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 81 to 64, with another 23 issues unchanged. Kyriakoulis (26.78 pct), Kekrops (20.20 pct) and Boutaris (20 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Fish Farms (20 pct), Medicon (20 pct) and Fieratex (16.37 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -0.49% Insurance: +0.69% Financial Services: +0.80% Industrial Products: -0.26% Commercial: +1.69% Real Estate: -3.02% Personal & Household: +0.07% Food & Beverages: +1.94% Raw Materials: +0.04% Construction: +2.87% Oil: -2.51% Chemicals: -0.93% Media: +3.00% Travel & Leisure: +1.30% Technology: -0.62% Telecoms: -1.55% Utilities: Unchanged Health: -0.58%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and Jumbo.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows: Alpha Bank: 0.73 Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.68 Coca Cola HBC: 18.04 Hellenic Petroleum: 7.30 National Bank of Greece: 3.93 Eurobank Properties : 8.80 OPAP: 12.00 OTE: 12.10 Piraeus Bank: 1.90 Titan: 26.15

    [38] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell slightly to 5.33 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 5.35 pct the previous session, with the Greek bond yielding 6.89 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.56 pct. Turnover was an improved 25 million euros, of which 11 million were buy orders and the remaining 14 million euros were sell orders. In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.591 pct from 0.593 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.506 pct from 0.507 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.419 pct from 0.420 pct, the three-month rate was 0.315 pct and the one-month rate eased to 0.237 pct from 0.239 pct.

    [39] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.62 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 20.39 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 6,146 contracts worth 13.215 million euros, with 57,694 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 26,298 contracts worth 7.175 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (10,929), followed by National Bank (1,095), Piraeus Bank (9,782), MIG (694), OTE (1,291), PPC (445), OPAP (328), Hellenic Exchanges (324), Mytilineos (304), Titan (127), Hellenic Petroleum (118) and GEK (190).

    [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank: U.S. dollar 1.399 Pound sterling 0.846 Danish kroner 7.577 Swedish kroner 9.036 Japanese yen 143.37 Swiss franc 1.239 Norwegian kroner 8.457 Canadian dollar 1.562 Australian dollar 1.515

    General News

    [41] Public consultation for free wifi access network from Thursday

    A public consultation process for a free wifi network giving access to the internet, announced by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras last November, is to begin on Thursday. The programme announced by the prime minister will give free internet access in public places, including public transport, throughout Greece from November 2014. Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Wendesday announced that the public consultation process beginning on Thursday will be for 4,000 locations around the country and represents the first phase of the project. He clarified that the second phase will extend the measure to much larger areas of special interest, with special technical and operating requirements in terms of the network and equipment. The third phase will then extend the free wifi to universities, hospitals and public transport. The network is expected to be fully operational at the end of the year. For the first phase, the selection of wifi 'hotspots' will include 325 locations suggested by Greek municipalities, 100 archaeological sites and museums, and 200 ports, harbours and marinas. Not included in this group are several of the larger and more populous municipalities, including that of central Athens and other Attica-area municipalities (Halandri, Petroupoli, Koropi, Keratsini-Drapetsona) or Polygyros in northern Greece. Ministry general secretary for telecommunications Menelaos Daskalakis noted that their failure to respond did not indicate a lack of interest, since many of these already had their own wifi networks through other programmes. He said that wifi systems will be installed in 1,200-1,500 buses and trolleys before the end of six months, while all metro stations will have them in four months. Members of the public will be able to connect for 30-minute sessions, provided they are within 20 metres of the access router indoors and 100 metres from the router in outdoor locations. Each access point will be able to serve 40-50 users at a time, with maximum speeds between one 1.0-1.5 Mbps and filtering for inappropriate content. The budget for the project is around 15 million euros plus VAT, with the funds derived from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), covering the equipment, software, guarantees and maintenance until October 2015. The project is to be awarded through an open international tender and its operating and maintenance cost will afterward burden the state.

    [42] Greek modern art featuring crisis inaugurated at BOZAR in Brussels

    The humanitarian and social dimensions of the economic crisis will be at the centre of the modern art exhibition "No Country for Young Men: Contemporary Greek Art in Times of Crisis" that opens to the public at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts) in Brussels on March 27 with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The exhibition is part of a series of events organized by BOZAR in Brussels, in the context of the Greek EU Presidency. Curated by art historian Katerina Gregou, the exhibition focuses on the dramatic changes that have occurred both in Greece and across Europe as a result of the economic crisis, internationally showcasing the creations of 32 contemporary Greek artists and art groups. The exhibition will be hosted at BOZAR until August 3 and admission will be free.

    [43] 21st Athens Cycling Tour on April 6

    The 21st Athens Cycling Tour will take place on Sunday, April 6 in cental Athens, organised by the Athens municipality's culture, sport and youth organisation (OPANDA). The race will "inaugurate" the municipality's first-ever cycle path, which is near completion and will link the Gazi district with the Akadimia Platonos (Plato's Academy) district, via Monastiri road. Athens Mayor George Kaminis, who is running for re-election in the upcoming local government polls, stressed that cycling was "on the daily agenda" at the municipality and an issue that "will increasingly enter our lives". He said the traffic measures for the new cycle path will be discussed within the next few days by the municipal council, which the municipality is preparing a tender for a bike rental system for Athens. The 21st Athens Cycling Tour, with two routes of three and nine kilometres, respectively, will begin at Kotzia Square opposite city hall at 10:00. There is also to be a 'mini-route' for the disabled and small children of about 900m, going along Athinas Road and ending back at Kotzia Square. Participants can register either via the internet on the website www.opanda.gr or at OPANDA sports facilities and offices, until the day before the tour. In addition to the cycling race, the "Athens Tour Bike Expo" will be held at Kotzia Square to present the latest developments and trends in cycling, which will include a service centre where race participants can have their bikes checked.

    [44] Greek consumers change their purchasing habits, survey shows

    Greek consumers are changing their purchasing habits during the crisis, becoming more active and proactive in their purchases, a survery by IELKA, the Institute for Consumer Goods Retail Survey showed on Wednesday. The survey, conducted on a sample of 2,000 consumers throughout Greece, showed that in the period 2012/2013, Greek consumer's interest was to cut overspending and reduce purchases, while in the 2013/2014 period a consumer seeks to save money through smart solutions, such as seeking offers, comparing prices, visiting more shops, choosing larger packages and buying more necessary goods. In this new environment, Greek consumers buy more products on offer (86 pct), while a 82 pct of consumers are more careful in their purchases particularly in supermarkets. A 76 pct of consumers are seeking more cheap and alternative solutions, while a 76 pct seeking larger packages to save money. Three out of four consumers are reducing their purchases avoiding luxury goods and choosing necessary goods offering value for money. A 67 pct of consumers are choosing private label products, while a 62 pct of consumers said they visited more than one shop to compare prices and to take advantage of offers. This development shows a trend of reducing excessive stock of products in a typical Greek household. Greek consumers also reduced food delivery, with a 77 pct of respondents saying they have reduced food orders while at the same time they have opted for cooking indoors raising food purchases.

    [45] Environment ministry, GAEC sign protocol for monitoring radioactivity in surface waters

    The ministry of environment, energy & climate change Special Secretariat for Water and the Greek Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) signed a protocol of cooperation for the collection of surface water samples that will undergo laboratory testing for the purpose of detecting radioactivity levels, it was announced on Wednesday.

    The monitoring of radioactivity levels in surface waters is placed in the context of the national programme monitoring radioactivity in the environment and with the signing of the protocol, Greece's contractual obligation as defined in the Euratom Treaty will be met.

    The Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (EKBY) and the Greek Agricultural Organization - Dimitra Institute for Land Improvement (IEB) will participate in the implementation of the protocol, according to an announcement by GAEC.

    [46] Health indicators for Greek public show high antibiotics use, smoking

    The high incidence of infections contracted in hospitals and the high numbers of smokers, compared to European norms, were some of several health factors of Greeks that were presented on Wednesday by specialists at a press conference announcing a national congress of public health and health services taking place in Athens from Mary 31 to April 2. Tzeni Kremastinou, professor of public health at the National School of Public Health and president of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said that Greece is high in the list of countries with the greatest rate of in-hospital transmission of infections compared to Europe (9 percent of patients are infected, versus 6 pct in Europe), and the highest rate of antibiotic-intake (54.7 pct) among hospitalised persons in Europe (37.1 pct), not just in intensive care units but in rehabilitation centres as well. The Greek rate of antibiotic ingestion is almost twice that of the European average, Dr. Kremastinou said, who also charged that many Greek hospitals had insufficient methods of checking the spread of microorganisms, largely because of nursing staff shortages. National Health School lecturer Anastasia Barbouni said that Greece had one of the highest rates of adult smokers globally, and was no. 1 in the EUrpean Union, with 3.5 Greeks stating they are smokers, of whom 50.7 percent are 25-44 years old. What was of concern, she said, was that children began smoking at 9-11 years of age, with a total of 15 pct of those under 18 smoking. Among other data, rabies had made a rebound, especially in red foxes (as of October 2012), while tuberculosis was also showing a rising trend, since 2008, especially in prisons, with 2013 being a year of high incidence. Deputy Health Minister Zetta Makri, who attended, said that the antismoking regulation would be enforced, while she also referred to the efforts made to increase the inoculations among children, especially in migrant or Roma populations.

    [47] Flu death virus reaches 111

    Flu virus has been abating in Greece during the past two weeks, while the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO) seems to be concerned with low vaccination rates for seasonal flu in the general population and in particular among high-risk groups and medical staff. The flu virus death toll has reach 111, while 98 percent of the deceased had not been vaccinated. According to KEELPNO, a total of 288 people have been hospitalized in intensive care units (ICUs), while 42 are still being treated in hospitals in serious condition. KEELPNO said this year's seasonal flu had particular intensity and duration in the country, as the sub-type A (H1N1) pdm 09, which typically causes severe illness, was the dominant one.

    [48] Inmates in Korydallos Prison hospital warn they will go on hunger strike

    The 102 inmates treated in Korydallos Prison's "Agios Pavlos" Hospital warned on Wednesday that they will start a hunger strike because they were not included among those benefitting from favourable release regulations promoted in Parliament by the ministry of Justice, considering that they are serving prison terms of more than 10 years. According to a Justice ministry draft bill, those suffering from serious illnesses and serving prison terms of up to 10 years will be eligible for release if they have already served two-fifths of their sentence.

    [49] Athens to proceed legally to protection of 'Prosfygika' buildings in Alexandras Ave.

    The municipality council of Athens on Wednesday decided to take recourse to the law in order to protect citizens' interests in connection with the "Prosfygika" residences, blocks of flats located in Alexandras Ave. that were built for Greek refugees from Asia Minor in the 1930s. The council resolution criticised the government's attempt to sell out the municipal property of Prosfygika through the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) and requested that the government recall the decision and respect the historical and cultural value of the site. The Prosfygika block contains 228 flats, each 15 sq.m., which have been in a state of disrepair for years.

    [50] Cardboard boxes containing used gas canisters cause stir in Maroussi

    Two cardboard boxes containing used gas canisters found at a Justice of the Peace court in the northern suburb of Maroussi, in Pentelis street, caused a stir on Wednesday afternoon. The two boxes were found by court employees in the building who they smelt gas and who notified the fire brigade. Firemen arriving at the scene evacuated the building and informed the police. Bomb disposal experts arriving at the scene ascertained that the two boxes each contained five gas canisters that had been spent (they all had an indicative hole); no gas was left and there was no timing mechanism attached. The gas canisters were taken to crime laboratories where they are being examined while police are conducting a preliminary investigation on the case.

    [51] Prisoner appears before Amfissa prosecutor after killing guard

    An Albanian national serving a life sentence for homicide, Ili Kareli, who killed with an improvised knife 46-year-old police sergeant George Tsironis in the Malandrinos prison at noon on Sunday, appeared before a prosecutor in the city of Amfissa, central Greece, on Wednesday. Kareli attacked the guard after a request for parole was turned down by authorities in February. He handed a note to the guard to distract him, which said, among other things, "Have you not had enough of my life for so many years? I have been inside since 1977. You are continuing to hold me. Why didn't you let me see my mother alive and allow me to build a family? Now it's necessary to take a life from among you". The prisoner had been sentenced to jail over theft in 1997, released in 2006 on conditions, and reincarcerated in 2007 for killing a couple during a break-in at their house. Along with work credit in the jail, he had a consolidated sentence of about 20 years and 9 months.

    [52] 17-year-old arrested for human trafficking

    A 17-year-old of foreign nationality was arrested at Derveni charged with human trafficking. Police attempted to stop a truck on Egnatia road at Analipsi toll post but the truck driver did not stop at the police sign. The truck was stopped later at Derveni and the 17 year-old driver was arrested. Police found hidden in the truck 19 undocumented migrants among them a woman and a minor. During the investigation it was revealed that the migrants got on board the truck, which was stolen, at the area of Evros, extreme northeastern Greece. Each of the undocumented migrants paid 1,000-2,000 to the trafficker to take them to Athens.

    [53] Inmates in Korydallos Prison hospital warn they will go on hunger strike

    The 102 inmates treated in Korydallos Prison's "Agios Pavlos" Hospital warned on Wednesday that they will start a hunger strike because they were not included among those benefitting from favourable release regulations promoted in Parliament by the ministry of Justice, considering that they are serving prison terms of more than 10 years.

    According to a Justice ministry draft bill, those suffering from serious illnesses and serving prison terms of up to 10 years will be eligible for release if they have already served two-fifths of their sentence.

    [54] Police investigates three-year old boy's death

    The body of a three-year old boy was transferred on Wednesday to Mires Health Center at Messara near Iraklio, Crete island. The burns over the boy's body were provoked, according to initial information, by hot water. The body was transferred to the Health Center by his mother and her boy-friend, both Bulgarians, who reside in Messara. The doctors informed the police that are conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the accident. A post-mortem examination will shed light whether it was an accident or a crime.

    [55] Mother and baby found dead under unidentified conditions

    The bodies of a 22 year-old Chinese woman and her four-month baby were found on Wednesday morning at the open space of an under-construction building in northern Greek city of Serres. The Chinese stayed in the last four years with her husband and their two children, the dead baby and a three-year old boy, at the under-construction building. The victim's husband is currently at Serres police station. Initial estimations attribute the death to fall. The post-mortem examination is expected to shed light into the circumstances of the incident.

    [56] Traffickers and undocumented migrants arrested at Igoumenitsa port

    Fifty six undocumented migrants, mostly from Syria, were located on Tuesday evening at the port of Igoumenitsa in two trucks with textiles. Police arrested the two truck drivers aged 37 and 45 both of Turkish nationality. Police estimates that the two Turkish nationals are members of a human trafficking ring. According to the police, the traffickers collected the migrants from the nearby village of Neohori in order to take them to Italy. The police confiscated 1,200 euros in cash and three mobile phones. The arrested migrants and the traffickers will be sent to the prosecutor while the investigation continues to track down other persons involved in the case.

    Weather forecast

    [57] Overcast on Thursday

    Rain in the western, the central and the northern parts of the country and southerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Temperatures will range in the north from 6C-18C; 8C-20C in the west and 6C-22C in the central parts of the country. Cloudy over the islands, 12C-22C.Clouds and rain in the afternoon in Athens, 6C-20C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 9C-17C.

    [58] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies

    DIMOKRATIA: Turmoil in parliament ahead of the voting of the omnibus bill.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Guilty silence.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Hidden secrets and documents... (Government draws up secretly the omnibus bill of the agreement with the troika).

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The criteria for the social dividend to be allocated to have-nots.

    ESTIA: We must become a creators' society.

    ETHNOS: Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP) for all hirings and transfers in public sector.

    TA NEA: Milk, medicines and now the taxis!

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