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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-04-02

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

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

Thursday, 2 April 2015 Issue No: 4925

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek gov't reforms foresee 4.7-6.1 bln in revenues for 2015, per Financial Times-released report
  • [02] Greek side presented 27-page document of reforms at Eurogroup Working Group, sources say
  • [03] A lot of work needs to be done, say Eurozone sources after EuroWorking Group
  • [04] EuroWorking Group teleconference ends, talks continue
  • [05] Greece will meet IMF obligations on April 9, government spokesman tells Reuters
  • [06] The agreement will close soon, Economy Minister Stathakis says
  • [07] Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Tsakalotos on negotiations with lenders
  • [08] Political climate has changed for the better, Alternate European Affairs Min Chountis says
  • [09] New Democracy spokesman on the negotiations with the lenders
  • [10] The government is not making tough negotiation but communication policy, PASOK leader says
  • [11] European Commission declines to comment on Greek PM's visit to Moscow
  • [12] PM Tsipras chairs meeting on issues relating to Justice
  • [13] PM Tsipras to visit health ministry on Thursday
  • [14] Government submits to parliament draft bill on reopening ERT
  • [15] New public broadcaster ERT to have a maximum of 2,500 employees, says State minister
  • [16] First-instance court finds 2013 ERT layoffs illegal, calls for hiring of 198 by NERIT
  • [17] Minister Tsakalotos discusses upcoming presidency of the EU Council with Luxembourg's envoy
  • [18] Greece, Turkey to increase flights between two countries, add more cities to schedule
  • [19] Gov't to table bill on zero deficit clause, Alternate Social Insurance min
  • [20] No 'invasion' of Parliament occurred, official announcement says
  • [21] Police release protestors detained after unauthorised entry onto Parliament premises
  • [22] Government spokesman condemns invasion of Parliament courtyard
  • [23] Parliament to issue official announcement concerning entry of protestors, Konstantopoulou says
  • [24] ANEL: Invasion of parliament's yard 'completely undemocratic'
  • [25] Potami offers alternative solution after security incident in Parliament
  • [26] KKE on incidents in Parliament courtyard and sit-in protests
  • [27] ND spokesman on sit-ins and damages to public buildings
  • [28] Potami calls on PM Tsipras to end government's doublespeak, safeguard legality
  • [29] Potami party withdraws from Committee discussing German war reparations
  • [30] KKE on the investigating committee and the memoranda
  • [31] Gov't 'walking in the dark, without basic plan or alternative,' PASOK charges
  • [32] PASOK slams decision to launch memorandums probe in Parliament, presents own counter-proposal
  • [33] Former PM Simitis and KYSEA members to testify in Tsochatzopoulos case on April 29
  • [34] 'Is there a state or has it been abolished too?' ND spokesman wonders
  • [35] Alternate min for Administrative Reform Katrougalos meets Greek President
  • [36] Economy Minister Stathakis receives Ukrainian ambassador
  • [37] Finance ministry to examine all loan agreements granted to indebted media companies
  • [38] Education ministry opposed to holding Golden Dawn trial in Korydallos prison
  • [39] EIB reaffirms commitment to supporting investments in Greece
  • [40] ECB raises emergency liquidity cap for Greek banks to 700 mln euros
  • [41] Fitch downgrades Greek banks' ratings
  • [42] Greek-listed companies report 3.045 loss in 2014, op earnings up 21 pct
  • [43] Eldorado Gold avoiding taxes in Greece via 'shell companies', French website 'Mediapart' reports
  • [44] Energy minister nominates Emmanouil Panagiotakis to head power utility PPC
  • [45] South Aegean island officials appeal to PM Tsipras not to raise VAT rates
  • [46] Company benefits of over 300 euros will be taxed on returns submitted as of this year
  • [47] Interest rate spread down 15 bps in February
  • [48] OPAP launches open invitation for VLTs
  • [49] Greek PMI edges up to 48.9 points in March
  • [50] Non-executive member of Financial Stability Fund resigns
  • [51] Sarantis Group buys AVA brand for 3.49 mln euros
  • [52] No bidders in tender to restore Peloponnese open rubbish dumps
  • [53] Government plans to abolish law allowing stores to open on Sundays-minister
  • [54] Greek stocks end lower
  • [55] ADEX closing report
  • [56] Greek bond market closing report
  • [57] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [58] National Gallery hosts digital El Greco exhibition
  • [59] Occupation of Athens University's central building now causing serious problems, rectorship says
  • [60] Thessaloniki University occupation ends; protestors prevented from reaching Turkish Consulate
  • [61] Mother of convicted terrorists refuses to post bail for her own release unless son's partner also freed
  • [62] Thessaloniki metro workers protest over layoffs outside consortium's offices
  • [63] Farmers take up fishing in Serres flooded farmlands
  • [64] Traffic to Thessaloniki resumes on national road after truck burns down
  • [65] Mostly fair on Thursday
  • [66] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek gov't reforms foresee 4.7-6.1 bln in revenues for 2015, per Financial Times-released report

    The Greek government's list of reforms, a 26-page document presented to the country's creditors, foresees revenues from 4.7 billion to 6.1 billion euros for the 2015 budget, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

    At the same time, new expenditures are foreseen of 1.1 billion euros (mostly because of a bonus to supplement low-income pensions and other related expenses).

    The result of both, the government said, will increase primary surplus (from 1.2 percent of GDP without the measures) to 3.1-3.9 percent of GDP. This year's GDP is foreseen at 1.4 percent, and next year's (2016) at 2.9 percent, while unemployment was expected to drop to 23.4 percent this year and 21.1 percent next year.

    According to list of reforms ("Greek Reforms in the Context of the 20/02/2015 Eurogroup Agreement", dated March 2015), the list of revenues includes the following:

    Intensification of audits on lists of bank transfers and offshore entities (expected revenues, in euros: 725 to 875 million)

    Combating illegal trade on oil, tobacco and alcohol (250 to 400 million)

    Enforcement of transfer pricing legislation (40 to 60 million)

    Introduction of a VAT lottery scheme to reward costumers for demanding a receipt (270 to 600 million)

    Fight against VAT fraud (350 to 420 million)

    Improvement of the state revenue collection mechanism (225 to 235 million)

    Installment scheme for tax and social security arrears (300 to 400 million)

    Initiatives to increase revenues (435 to 450 million)

    Implementation of TV advertisement tax legislation (50 to 70 million)

    Luxury tax on assets such as cars, swimming pools, yachts (around 20 million)

    Streamline the income tax code and eliminate exemptions (300 to 400 million)

    Fight tax evasion by self-employed business/professionals (20 to 30 million)

    Incentives for the payment of taxes assessed upon an audit, by removing obstacles to administrative settlements (100 to 200 million)

    Administrative dispute settlement on property taxation to prevent loss of cases due to statutes of limitation (50 to 70 million)

    Cultural heritage, from archaeological sites and museums (increase of 5 to 10 million)

    Regulation of e-gaming/gambling (125 to 175 million) and

    Public tender/auctions for TV licenses (350 to 380 million)

    [02] Greek side presented 27-page document of reforms at Eurogroup Working Group, sources say

    There was a "good climate with steps of convergence between the two sides" at a Eurogroup Working Group (EWG) teleconference held on Wednesday, senior finance ministry sources reported afterward in Athens. They said that the Greek side, represented by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, presented an enriched 27-page document based on the proposals presented recently and did not include additional measures.

    "There is convergence more broadly in the negotiations," the senior finance ministry source said but also referred to points where there were major differences, such as the abolition of the zero-deficits clause for supplementary pensions or the collective labour negotiations that the Greek government wants to restore but creditors object to.

    The official schedule calls for the next Eurogroup meeting to take place on April 24, while there will be another meeting of the EWG next Wednesday. The source clarified, however, that this did not rule out changes to the schedule according to developments in the negotiations.

    Finance ministry sources also confirmed changes to the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA) within 2015 "because it is a very bad tax". They said this will be abolished and replaced by a tax bringing fewer revenues. In order to avoid creating a gap in the budget, there must be "equivalent measures" that together with this new tax will bring in the targeted 2.65 billion euros in revenues that ENFIA generated in 2014, they added.

    Eurozone sources in Brussels, meanwhile, told the ANA-MPA that the teleconference ended with the conclusion that a lot of work still needs to be done, both in Athens and Brussels, a Eurozone source told ANA-MPA on Wednesday.

    "We had a teleconference on the ongoing process and we reached the conclusion that there's still a lot of work to be done, also at a technical level, in Athens and in Brussels," the source said.

    The same source said this work was necessary "in order to reach a comprehensive, agreed list of measures, which will be the base for a credible prospect that will open the way for the successful completion of the review."

    [03] A lot of work needs to be done, say Eurozone sources after EuroWorking Group

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The teleconference of the EuroWorking Group ended with the conclusion that a lot of work still needs to be done, both in Athens and Brussels, a Eurozone source told ANA-MPA on Wednesday.

    "We had a teleconference on the ongoing process and we reached the conclusion that there's still a lot of work to be done, also at a technical level, in Athens and in Brussels," the source said after the end of the teleconference of the EuroWorking Group.

    The same source also said this work is necessary "in order to reach a comprehensive, agreed list of measures which will be the base for a credible prospect that will open the way for the successful completion of the review."

    [04] EuroWorking Group teleconference ends, talks continue

    The EuroWorking Group teleconference, in which Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis participated, was completed on Wednesday afternoon.

    According to European Commission sources, discussions will continue to complete Greece's reforms list both at the Brussels Group, as well as in Athens with the collection of data. The same sources said there are no plans to hold a Eurogroup meeting next week.

    [05] Greece will meet IMF obligations on April 9, government spokesman tells Reuters

    There is no chance Greece will not meet its IMF obligations on April 9, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis told Reuters on Wednesday.

    He also said that progress in negotiations had covered the distance and created common ground and added that more specialisation would follow, culminating in a positive outcome through a Eurogroup that will ratify the agreement.

    [06] The agreement will close soon, Economy Minister Stathakis says

    The agreement with the lenders is expected to close in the Holy Week, Economy Minister George Stathakis on Wednesday said in statements to SKAI TV.

    I take it for granted that the agreement will close soon and will lead to the disbursement of funds for Greece and to the next medium-term agreement, he noted.

    "The government will abolish the opening of stores on Sundays," Stathakis added. He said that it will reinstitute the old system that allowed stores to open only two Sundays of the year and it is considering allowing regional governors and local association to open the stores two more Sundays during the sales period.

    Regarding the regional airports, he said that a discussion will be held with the German joint venture that has been selected on the improvement of the terms as well as on the participation of the public sector and the concession period (50 years), which he termed as extravagant. As for the Piraeus port, he said that a multi-share system is being examined with the participation of the public sector and not a 100 percent privatisation.

    He also noted that the model chosen for the construction of the motorway concession has collapsed because there was an overestimation of the potential of the construction of such roads with bank financing. Asked whether the tolls will be reduced, he replied that he does not have to say anything on this right now.

    For the problem caused with those who have taken loans in Swiss Francs, he explained that before legislating, the ministry will first wait the ruling of the court. As regards bad loans, he said that they are considering the creation of a fund with social features, that will operate out of the banking system.

    Finally, on the submission of a proposal to set up an investigating committee, he said that "if the procedure is carried out in a proper way ... light will be shed on an important period."

    [07] Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Tsakalotos on negotiations with lenders

    "We can be pretty optimistic. As you can understand, until the last minute there is always anxiety, discussions, pressure, red lines," Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos on Wednesday told Real FM.

    "I think that after (PM Alexis) Tsipras' meeting with the '6' (EU leaders and top officials) in Brussels and his meeting with (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel in Berlin, a framework has been set; we are working on it and things are better compared to the period before these meetings," he noted.

    [08] Political climate has changed for the better, Alternate European Affairs Min Chountis says

    Alternate Minister for European Affairs Nikos Chountis on Wednesday said that according to his sources, progress was recorded in the deliberations, but today's meeting as well as the Eurogroup meeting will show whether an agreement has been reached.

    The Greek government, Chountis said in statements to MEGA TV, is seeking a political solution to the negotiations with the partners and added: "Figures are not the main issue... The issue is whether political volition to close the issue exists ... The issue lies in the political negotiation and not only in the negotiation with the technical staff ..."

    He underlined that "the Greek government has said that it does not accept austerity measures, it does not accept recessionary measures, it does not accept salary and pension cutbacks."

    He added that the political climate has changed for the better, especially after the meeting of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    [09] New Democracy spokesman on the negotiations with the lenders

    "We have lost two months over this negotiation and the bottom line is that the country has got no money. In other words, we were discussing how to get money without a memorandum and we eventually got an extension of the memorandum without money. This is the bottom line," New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis on Wednesday told Mega TV.

    He also underlined that the country has no more money. "We are living on the money we left behind; however, they used up all this money, we don't have a realistic plan for the day-after while the market has paralysed and the real economy has suffered consequences."

    [10] The government is not making tough negotiation but communication policy, PASOK leader says

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos in an interview with Skai TV late on Tuesday criticized the government on its handling, its strategy and choices and lashed out at the prime minister and the president of the parliament.

    Based on the fact that SYRIZA's proposal for an investigating committee on the memorandums concerns the period from 2009 onwards, Venizelos said that it is obvious that Tsipras has made an immunity agreement with part of the right wing, saying that this includes the Independent Greeks (ANEL) and (former prime minister) Costas Karamanlis and added that he believed there is an attempt to protect Karamanlis and his government.

    He wondered why SYRIZA decided to table the specific proposal a day after the premier asked for the opposition's support and described the fact that it does not concern the period before 2009 as a "political provocation." He noted however that PASOK would support the proposal and added that he is in favour of a decent and retrospective discussion on the crisis and not just on the memorandum.

    Regarding the Parliament's President Zoi Konstantopoulou, he said the way she acts constitutes an additional institutional burden and does not contribute to the operation of the House. He underlined that her role is to facilitate concessions, ease tensions and protect the opposition, wishing that she understands the great opportunity that has been given to her.

    On the Parliament's meeting on Tuesday, he said that Tsipras did not brief deputies on anything. He also noted that PASOK voted for the welfare bill and 100 installments one, but it would not vote for the Legislative Act under which cases of smuggling and tax evasion are spared any tax penalties.

    He accused Tsipras of not taking the negotiation of the previous government any step forward but "he destroyed the whole framework, he triggered suspiciousness...the country has been downgraded...we stay on the current memorandum and we trying to get the tranche" and concluded by saying that the prospect is a new memorandum which would be named "development agreement."

    Last but not least, he said that the government is not making tough negotiation but a communication policy and it constantly resorts to improvisations.

    [11] European Commission declines to comment on Greek PM's visit to Moscow

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    European Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva on Wednesday declined to comment on a planned visit to Moscow by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in response to questions.

    "I have no comment on any visit by Greek authorities to Russia," she said, adding that there is freedom of expression in the EU.

    She also noted a statement on the issue by European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, who said there was no reason why Tsipras should not meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and noted that Russia "is not an alternative to Greece".

    According to Moscovici, Greece's position is in the eurozone and there was no cause for concern.

    [12] PM Tsipras chairs meeting on issues relating to Justice

    The government is preparing to bring the portfolio of the Civil Protection ministry under the jurisdiction of the Justice ministry to promote the protection of human rights, freedoms and public order, government sources said on Wednesday.

    The decision comes after a meeting of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos, Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis, State Minister Alekos Flambouraris and Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panousis.

    The ministers also discussed forming a permanent parliamentary committee to review policing, sources said.

    The government will soon submit the Justice ministry's draft bill on prisons which aims at reforming the penal code.

    [13] PM Tsipras to visit health ministry on Thursday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will visit the health ministry on Thursday, the government announced.

    The prime minister will chair a meeting with the health ministry's political leadership at 10:00 and then deliver a speech in the ministry's hall of ceremonies after brief introductory remarks by Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis and Alternate Minister Andreas Xanthos.

    [14] Government submits to parliament draft bill on reopening ERT

    The government has submitted the draft bill on the reopening of former state broadcaster ERT, sources said on Wednesday.

    They also said the government submitted a legislative act for the troubled Hellenic Sugar Industry and the debt-settlement plan as a separate bill, to allow for an extensive discussion of the two issues in parliament.

    [15] New public broadcaster ERT to have a maximum of 2,500 employees, says State minister

    The maximum number of employees in the soon-to-be reopened public broadcaster ERT will reach 2,500, State Minister Nikos Pappas said in a document submitted to parliament on Wednesday, following a relevant question by a main opposition MP.

    "The total number of former ERT employees selected for rehiring, together with the former regular employees working in Public Television with 2-month contracts and those in [current public broadcaster] NERIT with indefinite contracts is 2,500," the minister said.

    The document was submitted to parliament following a question by New Democracy MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the reopening of ERT which was closed down by the previous government.

    Pappas also said the proposed draft bill aims at providing objective information and news on equal terms, broadcasting quality programmes as required by the social role of public radio and TV and cultural development; all under the control of the National Radio and Television Council and based on European Union law and the Parliament's Commission on Institutions and Transparency.

    The minister also noted the television fee of three euros paid through the monthly electricity bill remains unchanged, which means the broadcaster will have to increase its revenues and cut waste.

    "Considering that the television fee will remain at current levels and that ERT's aim is to operate again with all its personnel...it is clear that the aim is to increase drastically the new ERT's efficiency by cutting waste and securing the optimal allocation of resources," he said.

    [16] First-instance court finds 2013 ERT layoffs illegal, calls for hiring of 198 by NERIT

    A first-instance court in Athens ordered the immediate rehiring of 198 employees of former public broadcaster ERT by its successor, NERIT, in a decision on Wednesday that found the layoff of 2,915 ERT staff illegal.

    ERT was shut down abruptly in June 2013. Today's court decision contravenes a ruling by the Council of State plenum that found the layoffs to be legal and adds a 100-euro daily fine for every staff member who is not rehired.

    The 198 had filed an injunction on the basis of EU directives (75/129/EEC, 92/56/EEC and 98/59/EC) and Greek law (1387/1983) that did not apply to the public sector; the court's argument focused on proving that ERT operated as a private sector entity.

    The ruling argued that ERT staff came under the rules against collective redundancies "because it may have provided a public radio and television service, but it was not a public law entity" and added that ERT "also had a for-profit nature, given that it had the opportunity to exploit its own-produced radio and television shows and develop business activities through its subsidiaries, while it also collected revenues from advertising and any other source, therefore it operated according to the rules of free economy, as the Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) has also accepted in its 12/2013 ruling.

    The Council of State had decided that although ERT was drawn up as a societe anonyme it resembled a public sector entity. The first-instance court said the Council's decision was non-binding for civil courts.

    [17] Minister Tsakalotos discusses upcoming presidency of the EU Council with Luxembourg's envoy

    Alternate Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos met at the ministry on Wednesday with Luxembourg's Ambassador to Athens, Christian Biever.

    Biever briefed Tsakalotos on the priorities of Luxembourg's upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the second half of 2015, and expressed his country's intention to strengthen mutual investment presence.

    The minister thanked Luxembourg's envoy for the briefing and for the country's favorable stance on Greece in the ongoing negotiations, noting that there is common ground and a spirit of understanding with lenders for achieving a mutually beneficial agreement soon.

    [18] Greece, Turkey to increase flights between two countries, add more cities to schedule

    A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by Greece and Turkey on air cooperation that will increase flights between the two countries, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority Governor Dimitrios Koukis and Turkish Civil Aviation Deputy Director General Bahri Kesici signed the MOU, which replaces the current one (in effect since June 12, 2009). It will increase the weekly regular flights (from 31 to 52), to and Greece (Athens and Thessaloniki) and Turkey (Istanbul and Smyrna).

    The plan foresees the inclusion of three new departure points per country: Rhodes, Mykonos and Santorini (to Istanbul and Smyrna); and Antalya, Trabzon and Nevshehir (to Athens and Thessaloniki).

    Greek airplanes will also be granted the use of two slots at the Kemal Ataturk airport in Istanbul, a long-standing request of the Greek side.

    [19] Gov't to table bill on zero deficit clause, Alternate Social Insurance min

    The bill on the zero deficit clause will be tabled within the Holy Week, if the Parliament remains open, or just after the Easter Holidays, Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis on Wednesday told ANT1 TV.

    On the disagreement of the institutions with the issue, he said "the institutions discuss the proposals of the Greek government, which include the abolishment of the zero deficit clause."

    He made clear once again that there will be no increases in the pension age, noting "we will respect the established pension rights."

    On the Christmas bonus to pensioners, he said this would be legislated in the fall and that it would be granted to beneficiaries on December 20. He said the exact preconditions would be considered during the drafting of the bill and noted that it would be given "to those getting an under 700 euro pension."

    As far as its cost is concerned, he said the projected 542 million euros would become 600 million. The bill on the Disability Centers is also expected to be tabled after Easter.

    [20] No 'invasion' of Parliament occurred, official announcement says

    There was no 'invasion' of Parliament but only a peaceful and controlled demonstration in the forecourt in front of it, an official announcement by Parliament's press office said on Wednesday.

    "For the concerned: the security measures for Parliament are adequate for dealing with every incident. The Parliament Guard has the experience to evaluate events and intentions and acts accordingly, always in the framework of the Constitution and with respect for the right of all citizens, even those demonstrating against the Parliament, as they have the right to do in a democracy. In the specific case, the Guard realised that it was a peaceful protest and, in order to not provoke further tension, proceeded to the first protection measures for Parliament, closing for purely precautionary reasons all the entrances to the central building and supervising the departure of the demonstrators," the announcement said.

    Commenting on the coverage of the incident earlier in the day, the announcement said there had been a distortion of the facts by the "well-known 'authoritative' media" and advised those rushing to proclaim Parliament in danger not to concern themselves, adding that such statements "obviously worked up many appetites".

    According to the announcement, the incident occurred at 13:15 and involved the entry of roughly "15 citizens, with their features uncovered, who in a peaceful way expressed their protest over Type C prisons and their solidarity with prisoners that are carrying out a hunger strike of many days. The citizens threw small-sized flyers summarising their protest and for a short time held up a banner over Parliament's entrance that read 'Solidarity with the Hunger Strikers, Immediate Satisfaction of their Demands'."

    All the accounts and evidence indicate that nothing worrying occurred and the protest comes under the relevant Constitutional rights of citizens, the announcement added.

    "The citizens did not attempt to enter the Parliament nor would they have been able to do so, since all necessary measures for the protection of the building and those within were taken by the Parliament Guard as a precaution. The citizens left the forecourt voluntarily, immediate after their protest, under the supervision of the Parliament Guard," the announcement said.

    Every effort to create panic and a sense of insecurity acted both as a provocation and also heightened tensions at a time when a justice ministry bill on prisons was due to be discussed in Parliament, as well as placing the lives of hunger-striking prisoners at risk, it added.

    [21] Police release protestors detained after unauthorised entry onto Parliament premises

    All 20 anti-establishment protestors detained after their unauthorised entry into Parliament's forecourt earlier on Wednesday have been released, the Hellenic Police (ELAS) announced.

    No arrests were made because, in such cases, a complaint must be filed by the head of the organisation involved, which in this case was Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou, who later dismissed the incident as simply a peaceful protest.

    Also the head of the Parliament Guard testified to State Security Police conducting a preliminary inquiry that the protestors did not cause any trouble but only raised a banner for a brief space of time, threw some flyers and shouted slogans before departing peacefully.

    The police clarified that a platoon of riot police that used to be permanently stationed outside the Parliament building was moved from the road outside Parliament to the Karezi Theatre on Akadimias Street after the new government came to power, at the request of the Parliament president.

    [22] Government spokesman condemns invasion of Parliament courtyard

    The invasion of Parliament premises by an anti-establishment group is provocative and inconceivable, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Wednesday said.

    "Such acts provide arguments to those who object to making the correctional system more humane. This invasion acts counter to the government's decision to take down the barricades of shame in front of Parliament. A decision on which we will insist," Sakellaridis noted.

    He added that "the government announced the abolition of high-security prisons in its policy statements, as well as the humanisation of the correctional system."

    Sakellaridis also said that the draft law is on its way to being voted and asked "who does such an act then favour?"

    "Right now we should all be careful and calm as there is a hunger strike in progress. The government always acts with the view to protecting human life, upholding the rule of law and ensuring law and order," the government spokesman concluded.

    [23] Parliament to issue official announcement concerning entry of protestors, Konstantopoulou says

    An official announcement concerning the unauthorised entrance of anti-establishment demonstrators onto Parliament premises will be issued as soon as all the facts concerning the incident have been collected, Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou said upon her arrival in Parliament on Wednesday.

    Questioned by reporters while on her way to a meeting of Parliament's Committee for Institutions and Transparency, Konstantopoulou appeared unruffled by the incident and the ease with which the demonstrators were able to bypass the guards and enter Parliament's forecourt.

    "Are you flustered because some people protested?" she responded and asked reporters to wait for the official announcement.

    Earlier on Wednesday, a group of anti-establishment protestors slipped underneath a barrier and entered Parliament's forecourt via the entrance used by cars, eluding the guards at the gate. They carried banners asking for the liberation of convicted terrorist Savvas Xiros for health reasons, the abolition of the so-called 'terror law' and of maximum security prisons. Twenty people were detained exiting Parliament.

    [24] ANEL: Invasion of parliament's yard 'completely undemocratic'

    Junior coalition party Independent Greeks (ANEL) on Wednesday condemned the invasion of the Greek parliament's yard by a self-styled anti-establishment group as "undemocratic" and "reprehensible".

    "Actions like those of the anti-establishment group who invaded parliament today in the name of 'promoting' whatever demands they may have are absolutely undemocratic and therefore reprehensible," Independent Greeks (ANEL) spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni said, adding that "everyone must know the government - through its ministers - has responsibility for safeguarding law and the smooth operation of the penal system".

    [25] Potami offers alternative solution after security incident in Parliament

    Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou should take over the civil protection ministry while its minister, Yiannis Panousis, should assume the presidency of Parliament, opposition Potami party said on Wednesday, making fun of both after a group of protesters entered the premises and threw leaflets against jail-related issues before any security noticed them.

    It would be a mutually beneficial exchange, the party said, as "it is certain that with this solution the anti-establishment group will on their own volition stay out of Parliament and the Parliament will resume its normal operation under the leadership of an experienced academic like Panousis, whom, as is obvious, some are preventing from exercising his duties."

    [26] KKE on incidents in Parliament courtyard and sit-in protests

    "Today's incidents in the Parliament and the sit-in protest in the administration building of the Athens University have nothing to do with the genuine protest and struggle of the popular movement and the only thing they accomplish is to offer an alibi to practices of repression and authoritarianism," communist KKE party said in a statement on the incidents that took place in the Parliament courtyard earlier on Wednesday.

    "Those who proclaimed these actions a "protest" are playing very risky games," it added.

    [27] ND spokesman on sit-ins and damages to public buildings

    New Democracy (ND) spokesman Costas Karagounis in a statement on Wednesday referred to the occupation of state buildings and public areas.

    Karagounis accused the government of "hiding behind its obsessions and SYRIZA youth organisation's mentality."

    He also noted that two weeks ago we witnessed the looting of churches, damages at university premises and the decapitation of statues. "What should we wait for this week? Someone must tell us who will pay the bill. Mr. Tsipras or SYRIZA youth organisation?" added Karagounis.

    [28] Potami calls on PM Tsipras to end government's doublespeak, safeguard legality

    Opposition party Potami on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to take initiative for the smooth operation of his government and end the violation of laws, following the invasion of the Parliament's yard by an anti-establishment group earlier in the day.

    "Even the obvious things, like adhering to laws and safeguarding public buildings are turning into major issues for the government because of the disagreements between ministers," said Potami MP Panagiotis Karkatsoulis.

    "We watch [Alt. Minister for Civil Protection] Mr. Panousis waiting for the prime minister's order to end sit-ins and expel occupiers, while [Interior Minister] Mr. Voutsis disagrees. We call on the prime minister to take initiative for the smooth operation of his government so that legality is not violated and occupations of public buildings end," he added.

    Asked whether someone should resign, Karkatsoulis said this is an issue for the prime minister to decide. "What we ask for, is to take immediate measures to end the doublespeak within the government and take some positive action towards safeguarding legality," he said.

    [29] Potami party withdraws from Committee discussing German war reparations

    Opposition party Potami announced on Wednesday it is withdrawing from the Committee established to assert German reparations, saying it disagrees with the fact that Parliament Speaker Zoi Konstantopoulou has proclaimed herself president of the Committee, without any discussions on the matter.

    The party clarifies in a statement that it is in favour of claiming war reparations and will continue to support the relevant initiatives of the Greek government, but it will not accept "trivialising institutions and turning parliamentary procedures into mere decorations for the show Mrs Konstantopoulou wants to put on."

    The same point was raised by New Democracy MP Dimitris Kyriazidis, to whom Konstantopoulou replied that her appointment was approved by the Parliament plenum during talks for establishing the Committee.

    [30] KKE on the investigating committee and the memoranda

    The coalition government of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL) "with the proposal on an investigating committee for the memoranda, is seeking an alibi for the fact that it did not annul the memoranda and their implementating laws but has instead implemented and expanded them," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) party said in a statement on Wednesday.

    It added that the government is deliberately "concealing the true reasons that led to the memoranda and the anti-popular measures, just because it is also moving along this path."

    KKE noted that the proposal to set up an investigating committee "is trying to hide the fact that the memoranda were not the cause but the result of the capitalist economic crisis, which is still ongoing, and to clear the EU policy and the demands of the capital, that were implemented in Greece through the memoranda in a violent and fast way."

    "The memoranda were the choice of the ruling class in Greece so that the crisis burdens the workers," the party noted.

    "In this respect, all Greek governments, not just those during the 2009-2014 period, have undoubted political responsibilities; this does not rule out other kind of responsibilities, which can be looked into," it said.

    "KKE will participate in the investigating committee so as to reveal the truth to the Greek people and the people themselves can make up their own final "investigating committee" against the EU, the capital and all the governments that have served them," it concluded.

    [31] Gov't 'walking in the dark, without basic plan or alternative,' PASOK charges

    The government is "walking in the dark, improvising and trying to gain time, without a basic or alternative plan," PASOK party said on Wednesday evening in an announcement following the conclusion of the Eurogroup Working Group.

    It said that "the participation of [Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis in today's Group, at the level of the staff representatives of the finance ministries, and the submission of a new - the third, officially - list of [reform] measures, proves that the government is walking in the dark, improvising and trying to gain time, without a basic or alternative plan."

    Meanwhile, it said, the Greek economy is waiting for needed funding week by week "and will soon be begging for memorandum number 3."

    [32] PASOK slams decision to launch memorandums probe in Parliament, presents own counter-proposal

    The opposition PASOK party on Wednesday unveiled its own detailed proposal on how a Parliamentary inquiry into the events leading to Greece entering memorandum programmes should be conducted, while at the same time criticising the government's decision to launch the inquiry as one undermining efforts at national consensus.

    Unlike the proposal presented by ruling coalition SYRIZA, which avoided naming individuals, PASOK named specific people to should be called up as witnesses and investigated, including former prime minister Costas Karamanlis and several European officials, among them European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker and current International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

    While noting that the inquiry was an "excellent opportunity" to air certain things in public, it simultaneously queried the move at a time when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras claimed to be striving for a consensus with the opposition parties and accused him of "unfolding a plan of artificial tension that deliberately prevents the formation of a uniform national negotiating front."

    It also suggested the moves undermined the negotiations, since responsibility for the Greek bailout programmes should not only be sought at home but also on a European and international level.

    The party accused the coalition government of "raising a protective barrier" around the Karamanlis era that preceded and, according to PASOK, allowed the crisis to develop. It attributed this to the presence of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) in the coalition and the choice of Prokopis Pavlopoulos as president.

    Finally, it called for the investigation to extend to the period after the 2015 elections and the extension of the loan agreement signed on February 20.

    [33] Former PM Simitis and KYSEA members to testify in Tsochatzopoulos case on April 29

    The five-member Court of Appeal for Felonies on Wednesday summoned former Prime Minister Costas Simitis, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and members of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) in the period when Akis Tsochatzopoulos was Defence Minister, to testify after Easter in the case of the armaments procurement programmes.

    The Court summoned the former KYSEA members to testify on April 29. The court also decided to call, apart from Simitis and Venizelos, former ministers Yannos Papantoniou and Vasso Papandreou to testify.

    The subpoena to former members of KYSEA has been a standing request of the main accused Akis Tsochatzopoulos since the beginning of the judicial investigation, who argues that the decision on the disputed contracts for submarines and the TOR M1 was a government decision and was not taken by himself but by KYSEA.

    Meanwhile, the court rejected the applications for suspension of execution of sentence that would release Tsochatzopoulos' wife Vicky Stamati and his accountant Frosso Lambropoulou.

    [34] 'Is there a state or has it been abolished too?' ND spokesman wonders

    New Democracy spokesman referred to the anti-establishment protesters that entered into the parliament courtyard earlier on Wednesday.

    "Anarchists, with and without a hood, invaded the parliament courtyard. Insecurity tends to become more generalized. The government, which said it would open a dialogue with hooded persons, now cannot even guard the parliament itself. We ask them directly: is there a state or has it been abolished too?," he said.

    [35] Alternate min for Administrative Reform Katrougalos meets Greek President

    Alternate Administrative Reform Minister George Katrougalos on Wednesday met Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and informed him of the content of the bill on the modernization and rationalization, as he said, of the public administration which will be tabled in Parliament in the coming days.

    "In Greece, the problem has always been that the Administration could not secure the continuity of the state even in cases of political changes," Pavlopoulos said while welcoming Katrougalos to his office.

    He added "this is important since the economic crisis and mainly the reduction of the public administration cost has a major effect on the administration's ability to meet its obligations."

    After the meeting, Katrougalos said that the Greek President has always been interested from an academic and political point of view in public administration issues.

    "The bill concerns the democratization, modernization and the restitution of public administration employees that had been laid-off or placed under the mobility scheme," he said.

    [36] Economy Minister Stathakis receives Ukrainian ambassador

    Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis on Wednesday received the Ukrainian Ambassador to Greece Volodymyr Shkurov.

    The meeting focused on issues concerning the mechanisms of activation of cooperation between entrepreneurs of the two countries, as well as specific proposals in terms of strengthening the areas of joint Ukrainian-Greek interest of new development models.

    [37] Finance ministry to examine all loan agreements granted to indebted media companies

    The government plans to examine all loan agreements granted to highly indebted media companies, according to a document signed by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and submitted to Parliament.

    The Bank of Greece, however, refuses to forward to parliament any substantial information regarding the subject, citing professional confidentiality.

    "The government is determined to fight corruption and vested interests and end the preferential treatment - on behalf of the banks - of media companies," Varoufakis' document said, adding that all cases will come to light, including loans of highly indebted companies in other sectors, besides media.

    "The reason is that it is a completely unacceptable phenomenon to have media companies lavishly funded with state money - which has been given to banks through their recapitalization plans - at a time when hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses are excluded from liquidity," the minister added.

    He also said the government has told banks not to give loans to media companies which don't meet conditions and don't provide collateral. He noted the aim is to examine thoroughly all loan agreement granted to indebted businesses in various economic sectors and bring everything to light.

    The aforementioned document was submitted to parliament following a question by Independent Greeks MP Nikos Nikolopoulos who wanted to be informed about loans given to media companies in the past five years and which are considered "bad loans" by common bank financing criteria.

    In his answer, Varoufakis said Nikolopoulos' question was also sent to the Bank of Greece which refused to provide any information.

    [38] Education ministry opposed to holding Golden Dawn trial in Korydallos prison

    The education ministry on Wednesday said it was opposed to conducting the trial of far-right Golden Dawn party members in the specially adapted courtroom at Korydallos Prison, noting that this could seriously disrupt nationwide university entrance exams and the smooth operation of schools in the area.

    It pointed out that there are 11 schools and two examination centres in close proximity to the prisons, which are likely to be the focus of protests and disturbance during the duration of the trial.

    "Given that the said trial is expected, on the one hand, to last a long period of time and, on the other hand, to be a focus of interest for citizens, organisations, associations, journalists and others, it is obvious that there will be a great disruption of schools that are in close proximity and especially during the period of end-of-year and nationwide university entrance exams," said an announcement signed by Education, Culture and Religious Affairs Minister Aristidis Baltas and Alternate Minister for Education Tasos Kourakis.

    Both ministers also expressed hope that the justice ministry and judicial authorities would take into account the above considerations and select another venue for holding the trial.

    Financial News

    [39] EIB reaffirms commitment to supporting investments in Greece

    The European Investment Bank reaffirmed its complete commitment to supporting investments in Greece, both in the public and private sectors, with an announcement issued on Wednesday.

    Contrary to claims in recent press reports, the announcement said, this included financing investments in small and medium-sized enterprises via local bodies. The bank stressed that loans were continuing to be disbursed to Greece and were not affected by any factor other than the administrative and contractual conditions included in every agreement and the systems and mechanisms that govern these.

    The bank noted that it has proven its strong support for investments in Greece over the last five years, giving 7.7 billion euros for a broad range of sustainable programmes that helped create jobs and supported economic activity in "challenging times". It said that more than 11.0 billion euros have been given to Greece since the crisis began in 2008, for activities in education, energy, transport, telecommunications, water and urban development projects.

    [40] ECB raises emergency liquidity cap for Greek banks to 700 mln euros

    The European Central Bank (ECB) has raised the cap on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) available to Greek banks by 700 million euros, according to sources on Wednesday.

    The increase, which was decided during an ECB teleconference, takes the ELA ceiling to 71.8 billion euros. The central bank will re-examine the cap in a meeting next week.

    [41] Fitch downgrades Greek banks' ratings

    Fitch Ratings on Wednesday downgraded National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank Long-term Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to 'CCC' from 'B-' and Viability Ratings to 'ccc' from 'b-'. At the same time, the four banks' ratings have been removed from Rating Watch Negative.

    The rating actions follow the downgrade of Greece's sovereign rating on 27 March 2015 and reflect Greece's weaker economic prospects, which put the banks' asset quality and solvency at further material risk. The downgrades also reflect pressures on funding and liquidity as deposit outflows are expected at best to continue until a compromise deal between Greece and its creditors is reached.

    [42] Greek-listed companies report 3.045 loss in 2014, op earnings up 21 pct

    Greek-listed companies reported losses worth 3.045 billion euros in 2014, a survey by Beta Securities said on Wednesday.

    The survey said that turnover grew 2.0 pct to 71.5 billion euros, while operating earnings jumped 21 pct to 6.46 billion euros.

    Out of the 85 profitable listed companies in 2014, 42 raised their profits, 22 reported lower profits and 21 returned to profitability from losses in 2013. On the other hand, from the 128 loss-making enterprises, 43 reported higher losses, 73 reduced their losses and 14 returned to losses from profitability.

    The total 3.045 billion euros loss reflected mainly the negative performance of the financial sector, while the commerce and manufacturing sectors reported profits of 56 million euros last year, despite reporting losses of 315 million euros in the fourth quarter.

    Mytilineos, Jumbo, Terna Energy, OTE and FFGroup reported strong balance sheets, lower debt, higher cash flows and positive results, followed by Grivalia Properties, Thessaloniki Port, Autohellas, Plaisio, Elval and Karelias. Positive results also reported small- and medium-sized enterprises, such as Thrace Plastics, MLS Informatics, Byte, Crete Plastics, AS Company, Karamolegos, Petropoulos, Karatzis, Kleeman, Flexopack, Loulis Mills, European Credit, Mermeren Combinat, Eltrak, Kanakis, Intracom Constructions, Elton Chemicals, Quest, Perseus and Paperpack. Other large capitalisation companies, such as Titan, PPC, Motor Oil and Hellenic Petroleum managed to either stabilise or cut their losses in 2014.

    [43] Eldorado Gold avoiding taxes in Greece via 'shell companies', French website 'Mediapart' reports

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/ O. Tsipira)

    In an expos? based on information revealed by the Dutch non-governmental organisation 'Somo', the French website Mediapart on Wednesday reported that the Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold is systematically avoiding taxes payable in Greece.

    The Canadian mining company, whose subsidiary Hellas Gold runs a gold-mining operation in the Skouries area in northern Greece, has allegedly saved "at least 1.7 million euros evading taxes via the Netherlands, when it should have paid them in Greece".

    The article, under the headline "Tax evasion: How Greece sees its taxes evaporating via Europe", says the Dutch Somo report is an embarrassment for the Eurogroup, "whose president Jeroen Dijsselbloem was a few days ago lecturing the Greek government".

    According to the report, Eldorado Gold uses a system of 12 subsidiary "shell companies" registered in the Netherlands that allow it to manipulate European rules to significantly lower its taxes. In 2013, all 12 of these subsidiaries shared the same Amsterdam address and had about 2.0 billion dollars in assets. Eleven of the 12 companies had no employees at all, while the 12th had three employees in total.

    Hellas Gold is owned by two subsidiaries of Eldorado Gold, which are in turn financed by a third subsidiary based in Barbados. The report says Eldorado uses these to avoid financing the Greek mine directly and thus having to pay taxes on its profits to the Greek state. Instead, it issues Hellas Gold bonds that are then bought up by the two Dutch subsidiaries, which regularly receive money from Hellas Gold, as well as interest on the bonds they have bought. In this way, the mining concern's profits are transferred to a 'tax haven' as opposed to Greece, where taxation is heavier.

    [44] Energy minister nominates Emmanouil Panagiotakis to head power utility PPC

    Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Wednesday nominated Emmanouil Panagiotakis as President and CEO of the state-controlled Public Power Corp (PPC), Greece's biggest electricity provider.

    He is replacing Arthouros Zervos who recently resigned last month

    Panagiotakis, a mechanical and electrical engineer by training, has been a senior executive in PPC and power distribution agency DEDDIE since 2001. He served as Manager of Operations, Education and Work Safety and has worked extensively on issues of organization and human resources in PPC, as well as on the company's studies and building of the transmission and distribution network.

    Assistant Professor Stavros Goutsos is nominated as Deputy CEO.

    [45] South Aegean island officials appeal to PM Tsipras not to raise VAT rates

    Regional officials from the southern Aegean area appealed to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras through a letter on Wednesday asking him not to raise the VAT rates on the islands.

    Their meeting in Athens of the regional council and municipalities of the South Aegean was addressed by several deputies from the islands, several of whom said the issue of raising the rates had not been officially tabled yet. Deputies from majority coalition party SYRIZA, main opposition New Democracy and PASOK took a stance against the raising of the rates.

    In statements earlier this week Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani said the lower-rate status of islands like Mykonos will change.

    In their letter to the prime minister, the regional authorities said that the lower rates counterbalanced the increased cost of living and working on the islands. They also spoke of problems in health, education and social welfare, as well as reduced ship schedules serving the islands.

    [46] Company benefits of over 300 euros will be taxed on returns submitted as of this year

    Benefits in kind that exceed 300 euros will be taxed on this year's submitted tax returns, a circular by Secretary General of Public Revenues Katerina Savvaidou clarified on Wednesday, referring to such benefits as expenses paid through company credit cards, the use of company cars and mobile phones, and any other benefits in kind as described by the new Income Tax Code.

    Tax for such benefits dispensed in 2015 will not be withheld monthly but will be assessed by the tax service and noted on the processed statements. As the circular says, "because the assessment of such benefits in kind is difficult and occasionally impossible when they are dispensed, it is accepted that there will be no tax withheld on these benefits, but the owed tax will be calculated during the tax return's processing, given that their value - if they are taxable - increases the income from wage earnings of the beneficiaries. In cases where tax has already been withheld on these benefits, this tax will be taken into account in the final processing of the return."

    Among other things, the circular also said that the monthly withholding from wages for a special emergency tax must be reduced by 30 percent as of 2015, according to a law voted by the last government. It also said that the tax withheld from paychecks must be turned over to the government even if workers have not received the payments yet.

    [47] Interest rate spread down 15 bps in February

    The overall weighted average interest rate on new deposits remained unchanged in February, while the corresponding rate on new loans decreased, with the interest rate spread between loan and deposit rates decreasing by 15 basis points from the previous month to 3.79 percentage points, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a monthly report, said that the overall weighted average interest rate on all new deposits remained unchanged at 1.12 pct. In particular, the average interest rates on overnight deposits from households and from non-financial corporations remained almost unchanged at 0.17 pct and 0.29 pct, respectively. The average interest rate on deposits from households, with an agreed maturity of up to one year, remained almost unchanged at 1.81 pct. The overall weighted average interest rate on all new loans to households and corporations decreased by 15 basis points to 4.91 pct. More specifically, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity remained almost unchanged at 14.54 pct. The average interest rate on consumer loans, with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year, decreased by 19 basis points to 7.19 pct. The average interest rate on corporate loans without a defined maturity decreased by 6 basis points from the previous month to 6.35 pct. Finally, the average interest rate on housing loans at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year decreased by 8 basis points to 2.36 pct.

    February 2015 saw marginal reductions in the overall weighted average interest rates on outstanding amounts of all deposits and all loans. The spread between loan and deposit rates remained almost unchanged at 4.02 percentage points.

    In further detail, the overall weighted average interest rate on the outstanding amount of all deposits decreased by 3 basis points to 1.17 pct, while the corresponding rate on loans was 5.19 pct in February 2015, compared with 5.21 pct in the previous month.

    [48] OPAP launches open invitation for VLTs

    OPAP SA on Wednesday launched an open invitation procedure for the consession of the right to install and operate 18,500 VLT game machines in Greece. In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, OPAP said the procedure to attract interest will last until April 30, to be followed by an invitation for an open international tender for the submission of binding offers by candidates.

    The full text of the invitation and all relative information are available in OPAP's website www.playopap.gr.

    [49] Greek PMI edges up to 48.9 points in March

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose slightly to 48.9 points in March from 48.4 in February, but remained below the 50-point level indicating a growing sector for the seventh successive month, Markit said in a report released on Wednesday.

    The report said that the average PMI in the first quarter of 2015 was 48.5 points, the lowest recorded since the third quarter of 2013. New orders in the manufacturing sector of the country fell for the seventh successive month, negatively affecting incoming new works as political uncertainty in the country discouraged foreign customers.

    Greek manufacturers were forced to cut their production levels for the third successive month in March, although at the slowest pace during this period. Only the consumer goods sector recorded an increase in production levels, while production in the intermediate and investment goods sectors fell. Job creation grew slightly helped by the activity of consumer goods companies, remaining on an upward trend for the fourth successive month. Manufacturers limited their purchasing activity in March, continuing a trend prevailing since September 2014, while inventories of supplies and ready products fell significantly. Delivery times were further extended, while costs rose in March at the fastest pace in the last nine months. Manufacturers cut their outflow prices in order to remain competitive.

    The PMI measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.

    [50] Non-executive member of Financial Stability Fund resigns

    John Zafiriou, member of the general council of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, has resigned, the Fund announced on Wednesday.

    Zafiriou, it said, submitted his resignation to the finance minister, who accepted it. His position is non-executive, it clarified.

    [51] Sarantis Group buys AVA brand for 3.49 mln euros

    Sarantis Group on Wednesday announced an agreement with Procter & Gamble to buy the AVA dish washing detergent brand for 3.49 million euros.

    The transaction is expected to be completed on April 30, 2015. "This acquisition, in the framework of the group's development strategy, further enhances the group's product portfolio empowering its position as a leading player in the consumer products market," an announcement by Sarantis said. AVA is the number two brand in the liquid dish washing detergent market in Greece.

    [52] No bidders in tender to restore Peloponnese open rubbish dumps

    An international tender for restoring a total of 76 open dumps in the Peloponnese Region ended on Wednesday without any bids submitted for the 23.5 million euro project, financed by the EU's National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

    According to Deputy Regional Governor Dina Nikolakou, the region's economic committee will now have to repeat the tender on the same terms, since it could not allow the project to be "lost".

    She underlined the importance of the project for the Peloponnese, which she said would transform the dumps from scenes of environmental crime and sources of disease into valuable green space.

    [53] Government plans to abolish law allowing stores to open on Sundays-minister

    The government wants to re-establish Sunday as a holiday for employees and plans to overturn a law liberalising store opening hours voted by the previous government soon, Labour Minister Panos Skourletis said on Wednesday.

    "The government inherited a legal framework which liberalised the operation of stores on Sundays which essentially violates the meaning of Sundays for employees," Skourletis said in a press release, adding the government has already pledged to overturn the relevant law.

    "We are obliged to ensure the smooth operation of the market with a level playing field for small and large businesses, but at the same time we have to secure the basic labour rights of employees and the notion of free time," he added.

    [54] Greek stocks end lower

    Greek stocks ended lower in thin trading conditions in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with investors sidelines awaiting news from a crucial Euro Working Group teleconference. The composite index of the market fell 1.30 pct to end at 765.37 points, after rising as much as 0.67 pct early in the session. The Large Cap index fell 1.15 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.75 pct lower. Turnover was a low 56.96 million euros.

    Eurobank (5.71 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (3.85 pct), MIG (2.29 pct) and GEK Terna (1.73 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (5.01 pct), Jumbo (4.75 pct), Terna Energy (4.57 pct) and Grivalia Properties (4.47 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Among market sectors, Financial Services (3.57 pct), Raw Materials (1.01 pct) and Travel (0.98 pct) scored big gains, while Health (4.67 pct), Telecoms (3.03 pct) and Chemicals (2.90 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 60 to 49, with another 15 issues unchanged. Selonda (20 pct), Varvaresos (19.05 pct) and Boutaris (15.79 pct) were top gainers, while Sato (18.75 pct), Altec (13.04 pct) and Pasal (11.43 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -0.04%

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Financial Services: +3.57%

    Industrial Products: -2.83%

    Commercial: -1.20%

    Real Estate: -5.86%

    Personal & Household: -4.20%

    Food & Beverages: -1.11%

    Raw Materials: +1.01%

    Construction: -2.04%

    Oil: -0.93%

    Chemicals: -2.90%

    Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: +0.98%

    Technology: +0.67%

    Telecoms: -3.03%

    Utilities: -2.85%

    Health: -4.67%

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

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.27

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.49

    Coca Cola HBC: 16.70

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.56

    National Bank of Greece: 1.09

    OPAP: 8.82

    OTE: 8.00

    Piraeus Bank: 0.34

    Titan: 20.66

    Grivalia Properties: 7.26

    Aegean Airlines: 7.48

    [55] ADEX closing report

    The April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.60 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 3,021 contracts with 41,049 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 48,479 contracts, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (27,571), followed by Alpha Bank (7,419), Piraeus Bank (7,246), National Bank (3,366), MIG (296), OTE (993), PPC (341), OPAP (356), Hellenic Exchanges (164), METKA (155), GEK (97), Ellaktor (59) and Jumbo (95).

    [56] Greek bond market closing report

    Greek state bond prices remained under pressure, pushing yields higher in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday on market worries over the outcome of negotiations between Greek authorities and the country's creditors. The three-year bond yield rose to 22.66 pct from 22.18 pct on Tuesday, while the five-year bond yield rose slightly to 16.95 pct from 16.8 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 11.32 pct from 10.95 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 11.47 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.15 pct. There were no transactions in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.196 pct from 0.198 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.136 pct from 0.138 pct, the six-month rate rose slightly to 0.088 pct from 0.087 pct, the three-month rate was unchanged at 0.018 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.017 pct from -0.015 pct.

    [57] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.0755

    Pound sterling 0.7285

    Danish kroner 7.4708

    Swedish kroner 9.2541

    Japanese yen 129.29

    Swiss franc 1.0426

    Norwegian kroner 8.6695

    Canadian dollar 1.3632

    Australian dollar 1.4153

    General News

    [58] National Gallery hosts digital El Greco exhibition

    The National Gallery in Athens inaugurated a digital exhibition of El Greco in the presence of President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Attica Region governor Rena Dourou and Alternate Minister for Culture Nikos Xydakis.

    The exhibition presents the artist's monumental works that cannot be transferred as a result of their size or because they are in temples and religious institutions. With the help of advanced digital technology, collections are recomposed (shrines, chapels, etc.) that their works have been scattered in museums and collections around the world. Photographs that have been ordered specifically for this programme give visitors the chance to tour the exhibition, introducing the viewer in the creation scene itself.

    [59] Occupation of Athens University's central building now causing serious problems, rectorship says

    The continued occupation of Athens University's central administrative building was beginning to cause serious problems to the running of the university, the rectorship said on Wednesday.

    The inability to use the central building meant the university was unable to meet vital obligations, such as staff payments, teaching, as well as legal and court cases, the announcement noted, adding that no solution has been found even though it had taken all necessary actions three days ago.

    Meanwhile, the university's administrative staff union criticised the rectorship's decision to hold a "counter-demonstration" against the occupiers at the university gates on Wednesday, expressing opposition to "any attempt to evacuate the rectorship building".

    The building has been occupied since Monday by anti-establishment demonstrators expressing support for hunger-striking prisoners and demanding the abolition of Type C maximum security prisons, as well as the release of prisoners with health problems such as convicted terrorist Savvas Xiros.

    [60] Thessaloniki University occupation ends; protestors prevented from reaching Turkish Consulate

    Protestors that occupied the central administrative building of Thessaloniki University departed without incident on Wednesday afternoon, without causing any damages in the building.

    Participants in the occupation then took part in a rally held at the university and a protest march to the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki over Tuesday's events in Istanbul. Police prevented the march from reaching the consulate, however, and it ended in the Rotonda area.

    Some 50 anti-establishment protestors belonging to the "Anarchist Collectives of Thessaloniki for Solidarity with Hunger Strikers" had earlier entered and occupied the central administrative building of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, demanding the "abolition of terror laws, hoodie laws, forced DNA sampling and maximum security prisons".

    [61] Mother of convicted terrorists refuses to post bail for her own release unless son's partner also freed

    The mother of convicted terrorists Christos and Gerassimos Tsakalos, jailed for their participation in the terror group Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, on Wednesday refused to post bail for her own release from prison unless authorities also released the 26-year-old partner of her son Gerassimos. An Appeals Justices' Council on Wednesday rejected the 26-year-old's petition to be released on her own recognizance.

    The 60-year-old is to remain in prison after she refused to post 10,000 euros in bail required by the courts for her release. The 26-year-old, who has signed a cohabitation agreement with Gerassimos Tsakalos, on Wednesday again filed for release on the grounds that there is no evidence of her involvement in any criminal act. In its ruling on Tuesday, the Council found that the conditions for replacing the imprisonment on remand of the suspect did not exist, even though the Appeals Court public prosecutor had recommended her release, considering there were no grounds for her continued incarceration.

    Both women were jailed on remand after police tracked the fugitive Aggeliki Spiropoulou, wanted in connection with terrorist action, to the home they both shared on the island of Salamina.

    [62] Thessaloniki metro workers protest over layoffs outside consortium's offices

    Thessaloniki metro construction workers on Wednesday staged a protest outside the construction consortium's offices over mass layoffs they condemned as illegal, demanding that the project continue. The metro construction workers launched a 24-hour strike and the rest of their colleagues will hold a work stoppage from 12:30 until the end of their shift over the 69 layoffs on Wednesday.

    The workers consider the dismissals illegal and say the company failed to adhere to the legal procedure for mass dismissals, announcing plans to contest them in court.

    [63] Farmers take up fishing in Serres flooded farmlands

    Farmers in the flood-affected areas in the northern Greek region of Serres pulled the brakes on their tractors and started fishing in their flooded farmlands - and this is no lie for the April Fools' day.

    "Farmers became fishermen," George Stoikos, deputy mayor of the Emmanuil Pappas municipality, told ANA-MPA, explained that more than 40 small boats have been sailing in the flooded land in the last few days, while some people have even thrown fishing nets.

    "The water level in some places has come up to 1.5 metres and is close to 3 metres in others. Pumping stations are almost underwater. Many seized the opportunity to go fishing and get a good fishing catch, as the river Strymonas brought a lot of fish from Kerkini lake. You can even see fish at the edges of the fields," he said.

    Police has recommended that locals move their boats away from the flooded fields; however, more aspiring fishermen show up.

    "I don't know whether this fish is edible. I do know, however, that home freezers are full of them," Stoikos explained.

    He made clear, however, that the main issue right now is to save the stockbreeding units of the area and put up as many levees as possible to safeguard the region.

    [64] Traffic to Thessaloniki resumes on national road after truck burns down

    Traffic directed to Thessaloniki can proceed normally, as the Thessaloniki-Serres national road in northern Greece opened again on Wednesday evening.

    The western-bound section was shut down after a large truck carrying shoes and toys burst into flames and burned down completely. The driver, a Polish national, escaped without harm. The Fire Brigade put out the fire.

    Weather forecast

    [65] Mostly fair on Thursday

    Mostly fair and northerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the morning in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 06C-17C. Scattered clouds in the western parts with temperatures between 11C-20C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 07C-20C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands, 12C-21C. Mostly fair in Athens, 08C-19C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 08C-16C.

    [66] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Greece enters dynamically into the energy map.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Agreement on the horizon.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The universities in which the entry base marks rise.

    ESTIA: Instead of 'Flat tax' they want 'Fat tax' !

    ETHNOS: Battle with time.

    IMERISSIA: We are running out of time and the agreement delays.

    KATHIMERINI: Warning from Merkel and Hollande.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: High performances against the crisis.

    RIZOSPASTIS: The co-governance blackmails the people to pay surcharge and gifts millions to the businessmen.

    TA NEA: Closer to Moscow.

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