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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-08-13

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

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

English Bulletin

Thursday August 13 2015

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek President discusses with Draghi, Hollande on imminent vote on agreement with lenders
  • [02] President Pavlopoulos asks for EU Summit on refugees and migration issue
  • [03] European Parliament head Schulz told Tsipras he'll urge German gov't, parliament to back deal
  • [04] PM Tsipras: We will complete the agreement successfully
  • [05] Prior actions included in the agreement with lenders on revenue administration reforms
  • [06] Two SYRIZA MPs said that they will not vote the agreement
  • [07] Eurogroup to discuss third aid package for Greece on Friday
  • [08] EU's Avramopoulos to meet Migration Minister Christodoulopoulou on Thursday
  • [09] European Commission ready to offer additional assistance to Greece on migrants issue, if requested, says EC spokesman
  • [10] State Minister Flambouraris urges all sides to stop 'petty political exploitation' of migrant issue
  • [11] Alt. Agriculture Minister: The facts will lead us to early elections
  • [12] Minister Skourletis discusses sale of grid operator DESFA with Azerbaijan's SOCAR
  • [13] New Democracy discusses deal with lenders, parliamentary group to meet on Thursday
  • [14] Potami leader Theodorakis: Greece is obliged to take care of refugees, but Europe has rules
  • [15] Greek stocks end lower on profit taking
  • [16] ADEX closing report
  • [17] MoU signed by Greece foresees sustainable public finances that support growth and jobs
  • [18] Forecast on Thursday
  • [19] Athens News Headlines at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek President discusses with Draghi, Hollande on imminent vote on agreement with lenders

    Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday spoke on the phone with the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi and French President Francois Hollande on the imminent vote in the Greek parliament of the agreement between the government and the institutions.

    They also discussed the approval of the agreement by Friday's Eurogroup. Talks were held in a very positive climate.

    Pavlopoulos also wished Hollande for his 61th birthday.

    [02] President Pavlopoulos asks for EU Summit on refugees and migration issue

    President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday pointed the need for an EU Summit for the migration issue immediately during his meeting with Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis at the Maximos mansion.

    "It is weird that Europe and the UN have not yet taken decisions on the condition in the Middle East and particularly in Syria" said Pavlopoulos noting that as long as the war continues the phenomenon will multiply "Foreign policy from Europe and from the international community and particularly from the UN is needed" he said.

    According to Pavlopoulos there must be an EU Summit that will decide which Europe's obligations are adding that Greece can't handle the issue alone "It is a European and international issue".

    On his part, Theodorakis called the migration a major national issue noting "even if we did everything right we would not be able to face this huge migration and refugee flows".

    He also said that Europe must find solutions for the refugees and other solution for the migration flow. "If we do not cooperate with their countries of origin and with Turkey that is the last stop before they get into the boats, I think things will become very difficult. A national policy, fortunately or unfortunately, is needed and for this issue" said Potami leader.

    [03] European Parliament head Schulz told Tsipras he'll urge German gov't, parliament to back deal

    The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz informed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that he intends to publically call on the German government, parliament and socialist party (SPD) to back the deal achieved between Greece and its lenders, government sources said on Wednesday.

    The move follows a statement earlier by Gianni Pittella, the president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament, who urged German Chancllor Angela Merkel not to undermine the agreement.

    [04] PM Tsipras: We will complete the agreement successfully

    Despite the obstacles that some attempt to set on our way, we will complete this agreement successfully" stated Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after his meeting on Wednesday with Alternate Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis.

    Tsipras noted that those who want to rearrange the eurozone will not succeed and noted "We will prove the Cassandras wrong and we will succeed the country's reconstruction.

    The premier said that the corruption in Greece grew further in the last five years and that the changes agreed in the concessions of two motorways (Ionia Odos and E-65) were held under conditions of Greek State hostage by the existing contracts.

    Tsipras referred to a gradual reversal of the ailing condition under the existing European framework with aim the establishment of an efficient and transparent system without delays.

    He also announced that the Infrastructures Ministry draft law introduces eight changes for transparency in the public works. For every 100 euros of public infrastructures, 55 euros will go to the state coffers.

    "Our aim is to create a new code of principles that demands the Greek society.

    [05] Prior actions included in the agreement with lenders on revenue administration reforms

    In the revenue administration reforms, the agreement signed between the Greek government and its lenders foresees a series of actions to be taken.

    As a prior action, the authorities will adopt legislation to:

    a) on garnishments, eliminate the 25 percent ceiling on wages and pensions and lower all thresholds of ?1,500 while ensuring in all cases reasonable living conditions; b) amend the 2014-15 tax and SSC debt instalment schemes to exclude those who fail to pay current obligations, to introduce a requirement for the tax and social security administrations to shorten the duration for those with the capacity to pay earlier, and to introduce marketbased interest rates while providing targeted protection for vulnerable debtors (with debts below ?5,000); c) Amend the basic instalment scheme/TPC to adjust the market-based interest rates and suspend until end-2017 third-party verification and bank guarantee requirements; d) Accelerate procurement of software for VAT network analysis and for further automation of the debt collection, embracing inter alia fully automatized garnishment procedures; e) adopt immediately legislation to transfer, by end October 2015 all tax- and customs-related capacities and duties and all tax- and customs related staff in SDOE and other entities to the revenue administration; all non-assessed audits reports made by SDOE since law 4321/2015 will be considered as detailed fact sheets to the tax administration.

    The authorities commit to taking immediate enforcement action regarding debtors who fail to pay their instalments or current obligations on time. The authorities will not introduce new instalment or other amnesty or settlement schemes nor amend existing schemes, such as by extending deadlines.

    Furthermore, the authorities, making use of technical assistance, will:

    i. enhance compliance.

    The government will by October 2015: a) adopt a fully-fledged plan to increase tax compliance; b) develop with the Bank of Greece and the private sector a costed plan for the promotion and facilitation of the use of electronic payments and the reduction in the use of cash with implementation starting by March 2016; c) publish the list of debtors for tax and social security debt overdue for more than three months.

    ii. fight tax evasion. The authorities will by November 2015 produce a comprehensive plan for combating tax evasion based on an effective interagency cooperation which includes:

    a)identification of undeclared deposits by checking bank transactions in banking institutions in Greece or abroad; b) introduction of a voluntary disclosure program with appropriate sanctions, incentives and verification procedures, consistent with international best practice, and without any amnesty provisions; c) request from EU member states to provide data on asset ownership and acquisition by Greek citizens, and how the data will be exploited; d) renew the request for technical assistance in tax administration and make full use of the resource in capacity building; e) establish a wealth registry to improve monitoring; f) adopt legislative measures for locating storage tanks (fixed or mobile) to combat fuel smuggling; g) create a database to monitor the balance sheets of parent-subsidiary companies to improve risk analysis criteria for transfer pricing;

    iii. prioritise action on collectable taxes. By September 2015, the authorities will sign the Ministerial Decision allowing for the extension of the indirect bank account register to provide 10 years of transaction history. By October 2015, the authorities will reduce- taking account technical assistance - restrictions on conducting audits of tax returns subject to the external tax certificate scheme. By November 2015, the authorities will adopt measures to prioritise tax audits on the basis of risk analysis and not, as is now the case, year of seniority (i.e. year of write-off).

    iv. improve collection of tax debt. To improve collection of tax debt the authorities will by October 2015 (key deliverable):

    a) improve the rules on write-off of uncollectible tax; b) remove tax officers' personal liabilities for not pursuing old debt, and c) propose, and implement in 2016, a national collection strategy including further automation of debt collection, and by November d) take necessary measures towards the timely collection of fines on vehicles uninsured or not undertaking mandatory technical controls, and of levies for the unlicensed use of frequencies; e) issue legislation to quarantine uncollectable Social security contribution debt; and f) improve the rules on write-off of uncollectible Social security contribution debt, and g) enforce if legally possible upfront payment collection in tax disputes.

    v. improve collection of Social security debt. By September 2015 the authorities will: a) provide KEAO with access to indirect bank account registry and to tax administration data; b) create a single SSC debt database that will encompass all social security funds. The authorities will implement by end-December 2016 a central registry of contributors in coordination with the pension funds consolidation and complete the integration of social security contribution collection with the tax administration by the end of 2017.

    vi. strengthen VAT revenues. The authorities will strengthen VAT collection and enforcement inter alia through streamlined procedures and with measures to combat VAT carousel fraud. They will adopt by October 2015 legislation to:

    a) accelerate deregistration procedures and limit VAT re-registration to protect VAT revenue; b) adopt the secondary legislation needed for the significantly strengthening the reorganization of the VAT enforcement section in order to strengthen VAT enforcement and combat VAT carousel fraud. The authorities will submit an application to the EU VAT Committee and prepare an assessment of the implication of an increase in the VAT threshold to E25,000.

    vii. reinforce the capacity of the administration. By October 2015, the authorities will secure the full staffing of KEAO, strengthen control capacity in IKA and reinforce the Large Debtors Unit, to improve its capacity on issues of liquidation and tax collection, and - with highly skilled legal advisers, supported by an international independent expert firm - for the assessment of debtor viability. By December 2015 the LDU will segment commercial debtors with large public debt according to viability status.

    viii. strengthen the independence of the revenue administration. The authorities will by October 2015 adopt legislation (key deliverable)to establish an autonomous revenue agency, that specifies:

    a) the agency's legal form, organization, status, and scope; b) the powers and functions of the CEO and the independent Board of Governors; c) the relationship to the Minister of Finance and other government entities; d) the agency's human resource flexibility and relationship to the civil service; e) budget autonomy, with own GDFS and a new funding formula to align incentives with revenue collection and guarantee budget predictability and flexibility; f) reporting to the government and parliament. The authorities will by December 2015 (key deliverable) appoint the Board of Governors and adopt priority secondary legislation of the law (key human resource, budget) on the autonomous revenue administration agency, so that it can be fully operational by June 2016.

    [06] Two SYRIZA MPs said that they will not vote the agreement

    "I will not be again candidate for MP with SYRIZA" stated SYRIZA MP Rachel Makri on Wednesday speaking to private radio VIMA.

    Makri also said that "the government did not receive mandate to bring a new memorandum".

    According to the same source, SYRIZA MP Stathis Leoutsakos stated that he will not vote the agreement "The government must take it back and it should pass from parliament".

    [07] Eurogroup to discuss third aid package for Greece on Friday

    Eurozone's finance ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday at 15.00 (Brussels time, 16.00 Greek time) to discuss about the third bailout program for Greece, the spokesman of Eurogroup's head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Wednesday.

    [08] EU's Avramopoulos to meet Migration Minister Christodoulopoulou on Thursday

    European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, will meet Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou on Thursday at the interior ministry, at 13.00 (local time).

    The meeting was announced by Avramopoulos through his Twitter account, who also said there will be a meeting with the Greek ministers handling migration issues to handle the emergency situation in the islands.

    [09] European Commission ready to offer additional assistance to Greece on migrants issue, if requested, says EC spokesman

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)--- The European Commission closely monitors the condition on Kos and, if requested by the Greek government, is ready to offer its support, said on Tuesday European Commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud noting that EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos is in constant contact with the Greek authorities.

    If Greece needs additional assistance, the Commission will examine the relevant requests, said Bertaud and reminded that the relocation of 16,000 persons that requested asylum in other European countries has been already agreed. She also said that technical assistance is offered to Greece and hinted that the effectiveness of the Dublin 2 Regulation will be discussed in 2016

    [10] State Minister Flambouraris urges all sides to stop 'petty political exploitation' of migrant issue

    Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris urged all sides on Wednesday to stop the "petty political exploitation" of the "tragic problem" caused by the ceaseless influx of refugees and migrants in Greece and especially the islands.

    "All these people, parties, organisations, and mass media - they have to tell us what they propose; sinking [boats] and drowning women and children? Push them away so that they will be drowned by others?" Flambouraris said after a meeting with Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou and other relevant authorities and government bodies.

    "They can take that off their mind. Our government is trying to solve the problem based on the rules of International Law," he added.

    [11] Alt. Agriculture Minister: The facts will lead us to early elections

    Alternate Agriculture Minister Vangelis Apostolou stated on Wednesday that" is unconceivable the parliament presidency to create problems to the government's legislative initiatives".

    According to SKAI website, Apostolou also said that "there can't be a government of national consensus or role" while on the possibility of early elections he noted "It is not possible for a government to continue as a minority government. The need for elections will become mandatory".

    Regarding the voting of the new agreement, he said that he does not foresee reduction of the dissident SYRIZA MPs in comparison with former voting procedures stating "Specific comrades continue to have the same view and to move on the same course".

    [12] Minister Skourletis discusses sale of grid operator DESFA with Azerbaijan's SOCAR

    The sale of a controlling stake in Greece's natural gas grid operator DESFA from Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR and the construction of TAP's South Corridor (in which SOCAR has 20 pct stake) were discussed on Wednesday between Productive Reconstruction Minister Panos Skourletis and Anar Mammadov, CEO of SOCAR Energy Greece.

    Skourletis, on his side, expressed the government's support for the energy cooperation between the two countries.

    The deal for the sale of DESFA is being considered by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition, a procedure expected to last until late 2015.

    The European Commission wants SOCAR to accept a reduced 49 pct share of DESFA, rather than the 66 pct share originally planned, saying the remaining 17 pct should be passed on to a third group or groups. The EU is also requesting that because SOCAR is a gas producer, it must submit to the constraints of the EU's third energy package, with regard to the independence of the gas grid operator (DESFA) from the parent company (SOCAR).

    [13] New Democracy discusses deal with lenders, parliamentary group to meet on Thursday

    Main opposition party New Democracy concluded on Wednesday after five hours its unofficial political council meeting at the party's headquarters, durng which it discussed the agreement achieved between Greece and its lenders.

    Party spokesman Costas Karagounis said the council discussed the new loan agreement and the prior actions accompanying it, while criticism was leveled at the coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and ANEL leader Panos Kammenos.

    "We expressed intense criticism for the large bill brought Greeks by the agreement of the Tsipras-Kammenos coalition while we noted a series of criminal mistakes, both during the negotiation and in the content of the third memorandum, which led to very painful measures which the Greek people will now be called to pay," he said.

    Karagounis said the bill Greeks will have to foot is the result of delays, retractions and incompetence of the government.

    On Thursday, New Democracy's parliamentary group will convene at 09.00 (local time) in a meeting chaired by party President Vangelis Meimarakis.

    [14] Potami leader Theodorakis: Greece is obliged to take care of refugees, but Europe has rules

    Greece has an obligation to take care of the refugees who have lost their homes in search of a safer place, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis said after his meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Mansion on Wednesday, during which they discussed the influx of refugees and migrants.

    He added however that Europe has rules on migration that shopuld be respected.

    "We have an obligation to take care of refugees who left their homes and are looking for a safe haven. It is our obligation as Greeks and as Europeans. But on the other hand, we must state clearly that our country cannot handle all the world's immigrants. Europe has set rules and these rules must be implemented in our country," Theodorakis noted.

    The leader of Potami also said that the government has to differentiate between refugees who need protection and solidarity and migrants, whose large influx on the islands and the cities must be curbed. He pointed that Greece will have to seek Turkey's assistance on this issue, as well as the assistance of the countries where migrants originate from.

    Finacial News

    [15] Greek stocks end lower on profit taking

    Greek stocks declined on Wednesday pushing the general index below the 700 points, as investors took profits following four consecutive trading sessions which recorded gains totaling 9.60 pct. The composite index ended 1.93 pct lower to 691.40 points, off the day's lows of 690.03 points.

    Trading activity remained at very low levels, while the banking sector closed slightly higher.

    Turnover fell significantly compared to Tuesday's session, ending at 43.159 million euros, while trading volume stood at 114,713,444 items.

    The Large Cap index lost 2.88 pct and the Mid Cap index eased 0.62 pct.

    The top gainers for the day among the blue chips were Alpha Bank (+3.05 pct), Lamda Development (+2.14pct), Folli Follie (+1.76 pct), Eurobank (+1.49 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (+1.01 pct) and National Bank (+0.79 pct).

    The biggest drop among blue chips was recorded by the shares of Coca Cola HBC (-6.64 pct), ???? (-5.00 pct), Athens Water (-4.07 pct), Terna Energy (-3.10 pct), Ellaktor (-3.03 pct), Piraeus Bank (-3.01 pct), Jumbo (-2.86 pct), Mytilinaios (-2.73 pct), PPC (-2.29 pct), Motor Oil (-2.27 pct) and OTE (-2.20 pct).

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 53 to 31 with another 16 issues unchanged. Nirefs (12.66 pct), Hygeia (10.09 pct) and Papoutsanis (9.57 pct) were top gainers, while Revoil (25.00 pct), Kekrops (23.26 pct) and Hellenic Sugar Industry (18.37 pct) were top losers.

    Among market sectors, Health (10.10 pct), Insurances (2.86 pct) and Commerce (1.61 pct) scored gains, while Food & Beverages (-6.63 pct) and Travel & Leisure (-4.43 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    [16] ADEX closing report

    The August contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.42 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday.

    The FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed at 204.84 points, registering losses of 2.88 pct.

    Volume on the Large Cap index totaled 773 contracts with 9.204 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23.241 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (10,771), followed by Piraeus Bank (5,599), Eurobank (3,264), National Bank (2.133), MIG (562), OTE (211), PPC (159), Hellenic Exchanges (87), OPAP (52), Mytilineos (46), Viohalco (38), GEK (33), Hellenic Petroleum (28), Ellaktor (26), Frigoglass (26), Coca Cola HBC (17), METKA (10), Motor Oil (1).

    [17] MoU signed by Greece foresees sustainable public finances that support growth and jobs

    The memorandum of understanding signed between the Greek government and the institutions foresees delivering sustainable public finances that support growth and jobs, according to the published document.

    "The correction of extreme imbalances in public finances in recent years has required an unprecedented adjustment and sacrifices from Greece and its citizens," the document agreed at staff level reads.

    "Public deficits have fallen considerably compared to the pre-crisis period, although Greece is facing a primary deficit of about 1.5 percent of GDP in 2015, absent additional measures.

    The consolidation has also relied on a dramatic scaling back of public investment and services, which will need to be progressively normalized and further prioritised in order to sustain the growth potential," it adds.

    On the side of primary surpluses targets, the agreement says: "The Greek authorities commit to ensuring sustainable public finances and achieve sizeable and sustainable primary surpluses over the medium-term that will reduce the debt to output ratio steadily. The authorities will accordingly pursue a new fiscal path premised on a primary surplus targets of -0.25, 0.5, 1.75, and 3.5 percent of GDP in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and beyond, respectively."

    The trajectory of the fiscal targets is consistent with expected growth rates of the Greek

    Stathis Giannopoulos

    Tel.6974507878

    [18] Forecast on Thursday

    Mostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 4 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds in the afternoon in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 20C-36C. Clouds and rain in the afternoon in the western parts with temperatures between 21C-34C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with possibility of rain in eastern Peloponnese and temperatures between 19C-36C. Mostly fair over the Aegean islands and Crete, 23C-33C. Partly cloudy in the afternoon in Athens, 23C-35C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki, 21C-34C.

    [19] Athens News Headlines at a glance

    AVGHI: Window for growth with 'heavy burden' agreement

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Third memorandum with harsh and recessionary measures.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Who will pay Tsipras' (Alexis, prime minister) memorandum.

    ESTIA: Islands send cry of agony.

    ETHNOS: All the measures of the new memorandum.

    IMERISSIA: The painful measures.

    KATHIMERINI: The third memorandum triggers developments.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Painful measures for 85 billion-euro loan.

    RIZOSPASTIS: Immediate mobilisation of the working classes against the new memorandum.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE ? TEL: 64.00.560-63 ? FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr ? E-MAIL: anabul@ana gr PRESIDENT & GENERAL DIRECTOR: MICHALIS PSILOS


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