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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-01-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 5 January 2016 Issue No: 5095


  • [01] Proposed Greek pension system reforms to be presented to institutions
  • [02] Pensions cannot be less than contributions, President Pavlopoulos stresses after meeting Katrougalos
  • [03] Labour Minister presents government's proposals on social security to ND leader
  • [04] Opposition parties reaction on government proposals for social security system
  • [05] Potami will not support higher contributions or pension cuts, Theodorakis says
  • [06] PASOK will not back new pension cuts or raised contributions, Gennimata says
  • [07] New development to be presented this month, Econ Min says
  • [08] President Pavlopoulos, KKE leader discuss Cyprus issue, other regional affairs
  • [09] Television licensing procedure will be ready soon, State Minister Pappas says
  • [10] Greek capital market officials optimistic over 2016 outlook
  • [11] All spending using electronic transactions will 'build up' tax free allowance, minister clarifies
  • [12] Industry's development should become a national target, said Dep. Econ Minister Tzakri
  • [13] Greek PMI up in December
  • [14] Greek stocks end significantly lower
  • [15] Greek bond market closing report
  • [16] ADEX closing report
  • [17] Large number of refugees to arrive at Piraeus port on Monday
  • [18] Police special guard shot in Petralona, investigation launched
  • [19] Light quake jolts Nisyros
  • [20] Partly cloudy on Tuesday
  • [21] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Proposed Greek pension system reforms to be presented to institutions

    The government intends to present its pension reform proposals to the institutions representing Greece's creditors on Monday, immediately after the meeting between Labour Minister George Katrougalos and President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    The plan moves along three main lines: an overall restructuring of the pension system, action to tackle the deficits and the presentation of a general alternative equivalent to individual memorandum commitments. It is expected to be voted on in Parliament at the end of January, after the negotiations with the institutions and a process of consultation is complete.

    The plan calls for a recalculation of pensions using new pension replacement rates and the unification of all pension funds into one. Specifically, the replacement rates based on time insured are as follows:

    - from 0 to 15 years, the replacement rate is 0.80 pct per year

    - from 15 to 18 years, the replacement rate is 0.92 pct per year

    - from 18 to 21 years, the replacement rate is 1.04 pct per year

    - from 21 to 24 years, the replacement rate is 1.16 pct per year

    - from 24 to 27 years, the replacement rate is 1.29 pct per year

    - from 27 to 30 years, the replacement rate is 1.42 pct per year

    - from 30 to 33 years, the replacement rate is 1.55 pct per year

    - from 33 to 36 years, the replacement rate is 1.69 pct per year

    - from 36 to 39 years, the replacement rate is 1.84 pct per year

    - from 39 to 42 years, the replacement rate is 2.00 pct per year

    Under the new system, IKA-ETAM will be renamed the National Organisation for Social Insurance (EFKA) and made the sole provider of main pensions to which all existing pension funds will belong, with the exception of the seamen's fund NAT and the farmers' fund OGA, which will retain their non-pension and social insurance-related roles.

    A National Pension will be paid to all individual legally resident in Greece for at least 15 years between the ages of 15 and 67 years old, or on the year when they qualify for a full pension. The amount will start at 384 euros a month and is reduced by 1/40th for each missing year from a maximum of 40 between the 15th and 67th year of age.

    The EKAS supplement for low pensions will be paid from January 1, 2016 until December 31, 2019 to pensioners and those eligible for old age, disability and other pensions of all pension funds except OGA. The amount of the EKAS benefit will be adjusted according to total income, starting at just 57,50 euros for those earning between 7,720.01 and 7,972 euros per year, doubling to 115 euros for annual incomes of 7,518.01-7,720 euros, 172.50 euros for incomes of 7,216.01 - 7,518 and 230 euros for incomes up to 7,216.

    [02] Pensions cannot be less than contributions, President Pavlopoulos stresses after meeting Katrougalos

    Pensions cannot be allowed to fall below the amount paid in contributions, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Monday after a briefing on proposed pension system reform from Labour Minister George Katrougalos.

    "The partners in the European Union must take into account that the social insurance system is the heart of the social state of justice throughout Europe," Pavlopoulos noted. "It is the main pillar, not just of European democracy but of European civilisation," he added.

    The president pointed out that the pension system was currently based on reciprocity and the contributions paid over the years by employers and workers, so their amount could not be less than the amount that they paid to ensure their later life.

    "I would like to believe, and not just to hope, that the Greek positions and the sacrifices of the Greek people will be understood," he said.

    Presenting the government's proposals, Katrougalos said that pension reform was a "national issue" and that all the political forces had to align themselves behind "all we can agree on," noting that agreement on rationalisation and social justice should be possible. He also agreed with Pavlopoulos that the social state was a part of Europe's identity and that the government had from the first sought to insert a European dimension in the negotiations on this issue.

    "After 11 successive reductions in Greece, at some time there has to be a stop to this," he said.

    [03] Labour Minister presents government's proposals on social security to ND leader

    Labour Minister George Katrougalos met with interim New Democracy (ND) president Yiannis Plakiotiakis on Monday.

    Katrougalos briefed the main opposition leader on the government's proposal for the social security system.

    On his part, Plakiotakis stated that ND will examine that government's proposal before it states its official position "ND's positions are clear and have been repeatedly stated in parliament. We are against cuts in pensions and increase of the insurance contribution" he noted.

    [04] Opposition parties reaction on government proposals for social security system

    Centrists Union leader Vassilis Leventis expressed his opposition over the government's draft law for the social security after his meeting on Monday with Labour Minister George Katrougalos who briefed him on the government's programme.

    On his part, Communist Party (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas after his meeting with Katrougalos said that his party's position is totally government's proposal for the social security noting that KKE will fight in order the draft law to not pass in parliament.

    Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis who is visiting the city of Yiannena said that "Katrougalos' meetings are only for the photographers". In his statement Theodorakis said that "Potami is not willing to follow the government's public relations programme".

    [05] Potami will not support higher contributions or pension cuts, Theodorakis says

    The Potami party does not support either an increase in employer contributions or cuts to main pensions, opposition Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis said on Monday. Speaking in the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina, Theodorakis said that the solution for Greece lay in creating jobs.

    "We will be present iin Parliament to fight in order to save whatever we can," he said.

    Theodorakis had earlier refused to meet with Labour Minister George Katrougalos, who had requested meetings with all the party leaders in order to present the government's proposals for reforming Greece's pension system, dismissing the invitation as a "public relations exercise" by the minister.

    "We are here to talk, we are here if we must decide together, we are even here to disagree but seek a solution. But we are not here for a minister to announce to us 'this is what we say, come with us,'" Theodorakis added.

    [06] PASOK will not back new pension cuts or raised contributions, Gennimata says

    PASOK will not consent to further pension cuts or increased social insurance contributions, PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata said on Monday after a briefing from Labour Minister George Katrougalos on planned pension reforms.

    She called on the government to negotiate "seriously and responsibly" and expressed PASOK's position in favour of boosting pension system funds using revenues from privatisations.

    "At the presidential mansion, the prime minister asked us to simply make a wish for the pension system. PASOK offers [the government] a major negotiating bonus. We say no to pension cuts, to the increase of contributions that undermines growth and jobs. We say yes to increasing funds for the pension system with a part of the revenue from privatisations," she said.

    Gennimata said the policies of the present government were exclusively responsible for making further pension reform necessary and had led to a new recession, due to their ideological bias in refusing to implement PASOK's reforms.

    [07] New development to be presented this month, Econ Min says

    A new development law to be tabled to Parliament soon will include 3-4 basic principles, it will be simplified compared with a prevailing bureaucracy and will put an end to mistakes made in the past such as no safeguarding of funds and piling up state debts to private investors, Economy Minister George Stathakis said on Monday.

    In a radio interview, Stathakis said a new development law will be simple, with adequate funds, it will focus on sectors with comparative advantage for Greece, such as a special categories of tourism, high technology, etc, offering all incentives -beyond the classic funding through subsidies- using other funding tools, it will focus on supporting youth business activity and small- and medium-sized enterprises and will offer incentives to attract foreign investments, creating a stable (but not reduced) tax status for seven years until completion of amortization.

    Stathakis said the process was expected to be completed by the end of January. Commenting on public finances and a return to economic growth, the Greek minister said that better-than-expected performance as shown in the November increased revenues will allow Greece to limit an economic contraction far below 1.0 pct, from a 2.5 pct contraction estimate agreed with the country's creditors. This development will pave the way for a faster return to positive growth rates in the first half of 2016, he added.

    [08] President Pavlopoulos, KKE leader discuss Cyprus issue, other regional affairs

    President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday received Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas for talks focusing mainly on domestic issues, the Cyprus problem and other regional affairs.

    "We had an opportunity to talk with the president and to brief him on the KKE's positions, both concerning domestic developments and international developments in general," Koutsoumbas said after the meeting.

    "We expressed our concern for the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean and the danger of our country's greater involvement in the conflicts in Syria and the surrounding regions. We especially noted the concern generated by Turkish expansionary policy in the Aegean, with the violation of sovereign rights, on the pretext of last week's NOTAM that essentially restricts sovereignty throughout the Aegean from north to south for a year," he added.

    He noted that Turkey had done this before but that current conditions in the region made the risks even greater.

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, Koutsoumbas expressed concern about attempts by Turkey and other major powers in the region to "essentially create a new Annan Plan in an even worse direction."

    On developments in the EU, he said they had discussed the ongoing economic crisis and the dangers arising for working class families as a result of a slowdown of the EU's biggest economies. Koutsoumbas said that he also relayed concerns about the direction things were heading in terms of pension system reform.

    President Pavlopoulos thanked Koutsoumbas for his visit and praised the consistency of the KKE's positions, saying it was extremely useful for the smooth functioning of Greece's political system at a critical time.

    [09] Television licensing procedure will be ready soon, State Minister Pappas says

    A process for licensing the televised media was now in the final stages of preparation and will soon be ready to begin, Minister of State Nikos Pappas said on Monday in an interview with the Greek radio station "Sto Kokkino".

    "The procedures for putting together the National Council for Radio and Television are fully underway and on a positive track and very soon we will have the licensing procedure, which will impose order on the television scene after 25 years," he said.

    He said the law for the broadcasting media will mark a passage from "inactivity and silent consent to unaccountability," to establishing a clear set of rules, which included fees for use of frequencies, implementing tax laws for advertising and now the law on television licences.

    He expressed hope that the main opposition will contribute to a speedy formation of the council for the broadcast media.

    Financial News

    [10] Greek capital market officials optimistic over 2016 outlook

    Greek capital market officials appeared optimistic over the outlook of 2016, after a negative 2015, at the opening session of the new year in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday.

    Capital Market Commission president Chr. Gotsis said he expected 2016 to be a better year for the economy and the stock market as he expected a significant improvement in macro-economic data after the country left behind two serious risks: the risk of a haircut in bank deposits following a successful recapitalization of Greek banks and the risk of a Grexit, while an anticipated debt rescheduling could lead the Greek economy back to international capital markets. "All these could lead to a significant recovery in the stock market and the state bond market," Gotsis said.

    Ioan. Georganas, chairman of the Hellenic Exchanges Group, said the Athens Stock Exchange will celebrate 140 years of operation this year and said he expected 2016 to be a better year on two preconditions: preserving political stability and controlling public finances.

    Socrates Lazaridis, chairman of the Athens Stock Exchange, said that the dominant feeling in the market was optimism for 2016 over market trends. He attributed a 25 pct drop in the market last year to a decline in bank shares while non-financial shares grew 5.0 pct in 2015 and daily turnover grew 8.0 pct compared with the pessimistic scenario for the market. Lazaridis said a mobilization of investment banking was necessary to attract new companies and bonds in the market.

    Theodore Fessas, president of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) said that the Greek economy must attract investments, mostly foreign, in 2016 to create new job positions necessary for social prosperity and peace. He noted that 2015 was the year that the Greek economy was firmly established as a Eurozone country.

    Pan. Drakos, president of the Union of Listed Companies, said he was optimistic for 2016 and underlined the significance of a privatization programme currently underway.

    Sp. Kyritsis, president of the Association of members of the Athens Stock Exchange expressed the hope that the recovery of the economy will begin 2016.

    [11] All spending using electronic transactions will 'build up' tax free allowance, minister clarifies

    All categories of spending using electronic transactions - including debit and credit cards, or through a bank account - will go toward building up a tax-free allowance for tax payers, Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis said on Monday on Real FM radio. This will include supermarket bills and utility bills, the minister said.

    The only exception will be spending that is also recorded in other sections of income tax forms, such as medical bills and others, but these must also be paid for electronically in order to be included in the form.

    "Our aim is for everything to be done via the banking system, everything that goes onto an income tax form," he said, while noting that the measures will not be made obligatory to accommodate the elderly and those living in remote locations.

    In order to make it easier for tax payers and businesses to switch to electronic transactions, the minister said he was working with Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras to reduce commission charged by banks for these types of transactions.

    On planned changes in income tax, he said the aim was to transfer the tax burden from low and middle incomes to high and very high incomes.

    [12] Industry's development should become a national target, said Dep. Econ Minister Tzakri

    The development of the industrial sector should become a national target if we want, at some point, to leave from the vicious circle of the memoranda and of the neoliberal European economic subordination, noted Deputy Economy Minister Theodora Tzakri in statements within the framework of the first meeting of the forum for the industry.

    Addressing the forum that brings together representatives from the state and the productive classes, Tzakri said "nowwe know that we are alone in Europe, now that we know that it is a ground of extreme nationally economic competitiveness we will slowly build policies that will take advantage of the European framework and will give a productive and growth breather to our country".

    The forum will seek to attract recommendations to deal with all crucial issues related with Greek industry and to form working groups to drafting an action plan, such as a group of determining the dynamic sectors of the industry able to create stable job positions and compete internationally, a group to link innovation with industry, a group to support small- and medium-sized enterprises, a group to save energy and to seek a cut in energy cost, a group of funding tools-attracting direct foreign investments for the support of the manufacturing sector, a group of business environment to deal with the lifting of administrative hurdles, improving licensing procedures, market supervision.

    Each working group will submit its recommendations by the end of February.

    [13] Greek PMI up in December

    Greece's Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) grew to 50.2 points in December from 48.1 in November, recording the first improvement in the manufacturing sector in the last 16 months, returning to growth levels for the first time in 12 months, Markit said on Monday.

    In a monthly report, Markit said that the December growth rate was the highest since August 2014 and noted that production increased despite a new decline in incoming new orders. Production continued falling since September 2014 while a decline in new orders in December was the lowest in 13 months. Employment in the manufacturing sector grew slightly, ending an eight-month period of shrinking. Pending works fell at the lowest rate in 23 months. Inventories fell in December while supply purchases fell for the 16th successive month, although at the slowest rate recorded in 12 months.

    Markit said that import prices rose in December, at the highest rate in three months, while outflow prices fell and delivery times extended for the 13th successive month.

    Samuel Agass, an economist in Markit, commenting on the report said that "a slightly improvement of operating conditions is a sign of steady progress for an economy which was very risky six months ago".

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

    [14] Greek stocks end significantly lower

    Greek stocks ended lower in the first trading session of 2016, hit by a sharp selloff in international markets and particularly China on worries over China's economic growth, while tension in Saudi-Iran relations further dampened sentiment.

    The composite index of the market fell 1.62 pct to end at 621.12 points, off the day's lows of 619.42 points. The Large Cap index dropped 2.42 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 0.10 pct. Turnover was low 58.772 million euros in volume of 97,824,419.

    PPC (4.12 pct), Lamda Development (2.72 pct) and Piraeus Port (2.67 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while OPAP (11.11 pc), Eurobank (3.85 pct) and National Bank (3.79 pct) suffered losses.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities. Among market sectors, Health (5.61 pct) and Utilities (2.25 pct) scored big gains, while Travel (8.97 pct) and Commerce (3.75 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 64 to 34 with another 22 issues unchanged. Sidma (19.66 pct), AEGEK (16.39 pct) and Dionic (15.38 pct) were top gainers, while OPAP (11.11 pct), Mevaco (9.96 pct) and Kepenos Mills (9.57 pct) were top losers.

    [15] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 7.53 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.09 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.56 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.058 pct from 0.060 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.002 pct from 0.003 pct, the six-month rate was -0.041 pct, the three-month rate eased to -0.0132 pct from -0.0131 pct and the one-month rate was -0.210 pct.

    [16] ADEX closing report

    The January contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.36 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,730 contracts with 16,066 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,110 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (8,438), followed by Alpha Bank (2,002), National Bank (7,950), Eurobank (5,277), MIG (243), OTE (234), PPC (479), OPAP (1,935), Titan (152), Mytilineos (157), Hellenic Petroleum (97), GEK (108), Folli Follie (375) and Terna Energy (84).

    General News

    [17] Large number of refugees to arrive at Piraeus port on Monday

    The ferry Ariadne with 1,880 refugees on board is expected to dock at Piraeus port on Monday. The vessel has collected 1,270 persons from Lesvos and 610 from Chios.

    The ferry Mykonos carrying 688 refugees from Chios and Samos arrived earlier at Piraeus.

    In the period 31 December 2015 - 4 January 2016, the Greek Coast Guard has rescued 596 migrants and refugees in 13 incidents that occurred in the sea regions of Lesvos, Chios, Agathonissi, Kos and Megisti

    [18] Police special guard shot in Petralona, investigation launched

    Greek authorities have launched an investigation into the shooting and injury of a 32-year-old police special guard in Petralona early on Monday morning, including the possibility that a personal dispute is involved.

    The special guard, who is currently serving at a police station in Keratea, was off duty at the time of the attack. He was fired upon by an unidentified individual and injured in the left thigh while walking down pedestrianised Voutadon Road in Petralona. Police sources said his attacker first asked the guard's name and then pulled out a gun and shot him.

    The victim was taken to the 401 Military Hospital and is considered out of danger.

    The investigation is being carried out by the Attica Security Police Crimes Against Life department.

    [19] Light quake jolts Nisyros

    A light quake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale was recorded at 04:58 on Monday at the sea region south of the island of Nisyros.

    According to the Athens National Observatory Geodynamics Institute the quake's epicentre was located 25km south of Nisyros and 326km east of Athens.

    Weather forecast

    [20] Partly cloudy on Tuesday

    Clouds and southerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Rain in the morning in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 05C-12C. Cloudy in the western parts with temperatures between 09C-18C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with temperatures between 07C-17C. Clouds and rain over the Aegean islands, 14C-19C. Mostly fair in Athens, 09C-19C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 03C-11C.

    [21] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: The new objective rates in real estate.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Consensus-hunt.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 'Window' for pension before the age of 58.

    ESTIA: Hilarious social automaticity".

    ETHNOS: The new ceiling on all pensions.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Task Force to the industrial sector.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 210 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 210 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: MICHALIS PSILOS

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