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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-05-11

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

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

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 Issue No: 5163

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras: Greece leaves six years of darkness behind and sees the light of growth
  • [02] European Commission: Significant progress towards the conclusion of the Greek program review
  • [03] Moscovici says Eurogroup on Greece overcame an important milestone
  • [04] A three-step approach will be followed for the restructuring of the Greek debt, according to the Eurogroup
  • [05] Government starts work on bill for measures required to close program review-sources
  • [06] We restored confidence and created prospects, stated gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili
  • [07] Main opposition lashes out at government on Eurogroup outcome
  • [08] Main opposition criticizes PM's 'triumphalism' at cabinet meeting
  • [09] Gov't is trying to make the people complicit to the crime, KKE says
  • [10] Trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon on security, refugee crisis on Wed
  • [11] No plan B for possible collapse of EU-Turkey deal on refugees, says EC spox
  • [12] Government seeking four additional spaces to house migrants near Thessaloniki, Kyritsis tells ANA-MPA
  • [13] 54,347 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Tuesday; 1,357 persons died in their attempt to reach European coasts
  • [14] Politicians' 2013 wealth statements to be posted on Parliament website on Wednesday
  • [15] Greece and Egypt to conduct joint aeronautical exercise east of Crete on May 11-12
  • [16] European Investment Fund signs 3 deals with Greek banks and funds, aimed at triggering SME investments
  • [17] Banks must regain confidence of partners and customers, says bank association chief
  • [18] Greek industrial production index down 4.0 pct in March
  • [19] Greek-Jordanian Business Forum in Amman
  • [20] Deadline for Kasteli airport bids pushed back to May 27, says minister
  • [21] Greek inflation rate at -1.3 pct in April
  • [22] Greek trade deficit down 23.7 pct in March
  • [23] Creta Farm signs 15-mln-euro loan agreement with EIB
  • [24] Employment trends best since 2001 in Jan-April
  • [25] Car registrations up 24.5 pct in April
  • [26] Greek stocks end strongly up on Tuesday
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Mega cruise ship Ovation of the Seas to arrive at Piraeus on Sunday
  • [30] British police in Kos in renewed effort to find Ben Needham, missing since 1991
  • [31] Attica police solve major fraud case costing Greek and foreign investors hundreds of millions
  • [32] Tension between refugees in Idomeni
  • [33] Romanian wanted on European warrant arrested on Crete
  • [34] Health ministry starts immunization campaign for refugees and migrants
  • [35] Exhibition in old gas plant in Athens to mark International Museum Day
  • [36] Municipality of Athens distributes food to 11,840 people in need
  • [37] Mostly fair on Wednesday
  • [38] The Tuesday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras: Greece leaves six years of darkness behind and sees the light of growth

    "Today is an important day. And it is an important day because after six years of successive cuts, bad news and hard austerity, we finally have good news," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday at a cabinet meeting on the outcome of Monday's Eurogroup meeting.

    He noted that the news is good not only for the country's progress but mainly for Greek society, which has the right to once again look to the future with optimism.

    "Greece is no longer alone and isolated," Tsipras underlined, "but has the strong support of a number of political forces and governments that have finally understood that Greece has the right to turn the page. To escape from the vicious circle of recession and debt and get on the course to recovery."

    The Greek prime minister stressed that this was the result of the negotiating efforts, diplomatic initiatives and political interventions at all levels, at EU summits, the European Parliament and the negotiations on a political and staff level.

    Greece has for the first time a roadmap with specific steps for debt reduction which will become more specific at a technical level at the Eurogroup meeting on May 24 and will lead to debt relief, he stated. "This will create the necessary fiscal conditions for the recovery of the economy and the increase of social protection."

    "Today we are realistically happy and optimistic," he said, while warning that the coming period will be demanding. "A plan is needed, as well as determination to break with established beliefs and interests and make changes with boldness and effectiveness, to finally get the economy on track," Tsipras said.

    This was not a time to celebrate, he added, but a time for hard and systematic work "because we know that the new phase the country is entering will also be a more demanding phase."

    "It is time to properly plan the productive and social reconstruction," he noted and called on all his cabinet "to intensify our efforts to get out from under a guardianship regime. And at the same time to turn our attention to everyday life, free from the daily and intensive negotiations."

    Commenting on the 'fiscal correction' mechanism demanded by the creditors, Tsipras said that the government had deflected demands to legislate for an additional 3.6 billion euros in austerity measures and that the mechanism was neither a new set of measures nor a new memorandum. He also expressed his confidence that the mechanism will not need to be activated because Greece was able to meet its targets for the first time.

    Monday's Eurogroup meeting was a vindication of many months of effort and proof that Greece can succeed without constantly bowing to unreasonable demands, he said. The way was now opening for the disbursement of a large tranche of loans that will have a highly beneficial effect on Greece's economy, since a large part will be used to pay off the state's overdue debts to the private sector.

    The decision had also sounded the "death knell" for the corrupt intertwined interests of the local economic, political and media elite, who had fought the government and tried to prevent a positive outcome to the negotiations every step of the way, he added.

    [02] European Commission: Significant progress towards the conclusion of the Greek program review

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)

    The outcome of Monday's Eurogroup is a step of "significant progress towards the conclusion of the Greek program review," European Commission's spokesperson Annika Breidthardt said on Tuesday.

    After the legislation of 'important' reforms by the Greek parliament and the completion of the legislation of the prior actions in the next days, the institutions and the Greek authorities are expected to reach an agreement at technical level and afterwards the Eurogroup will be ready to support the disbursment of the next tranche, she said.

    On the debt issue, Breidthardt reiterated that the Commission will contribute with its know-how, however it is up to the European Stability Mechanism and Greece's lenders to decide.

    [03] Moscovici says Eurogroup on Greece overcame an important milestone

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)

    Monday's Eurogroup on Greece overcame an important milestone and was able to make acceptable by everyone on ongoing vigorous program for Greece's growth, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said on Tuesday, during a debate on the negotiations with Greece, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

    "People who participate at the Eurogroup have different political sensitivities. What we achieved yesterday was to overcome the specific milestone, where an ongoing reform program which is robust can be accepted by all of us and form the basis for the return of trust and growth to Greece," he said.

    Moscovici also expressed his belief that an agreement will be achieved at the next Eurogroup on May 24.

    [04] A three-step approach will be followed for the restructuring of the Greek debt, according to the Eurogroup

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    A three-step approach will be followed for the restructuring of the Greek debt, according to the Eurogroup statement on Greece.

    The Eurogroup agrees on the following general guiding principles for the possible additional debt measures: (i) facilitating market access; (ii) smoothening the repayment profile; (iii) incentivising the country's adjustment process even after the programme ends; and (iv) flexibility to accommodate uncertain GDP growth and interest rate developments in the future.

    The Eurogroup also agrees to establish a benchmark for assessing sustainability of the Greek debt, according to which under the baseline scenario of a debt sustainability analysis (DSA), Greece's gross financing needs should remain on a sustainable path.

    The Eurogroup foresees a sequenced approach, whereby a package of debt measures could be phased in progressively, as necessary to meet the agreed benchmark on gross financing needs and subject to the pre-defined conditionality of the ESM programme. The Eurogroup reconfirms that nominal haircuts are excluded, and that all measures taken will be in line with existing EU law and the ESM and EFSF legal frameworks. The Eurogroup will consider:

    For the short term: possibilities to optimize debt management of the programme.

    For the medium term: the Eurogroup asks the EWG to explore specific measures (such as longer grace and payment periods) which can be used, if necessary, at the end of the ESM programme, conditional upon the successful implementation of the ESM programme, as well as such measures as the use of the SMP and ANFA equivalent profits.

    For the long term: the Eurogroup stands ready, if necessary, and conditional upon compliance with the primary surplus targets, to further assess at the end of the programme the need for possible additional debt measures to ensure Greece's gross financing needs remain on a sustainable path.

    [05] Government starts work on bill for measures required to close program review-sources

    The government has started drafting the bill that will include the remaining open issues required to close Greece's program review, aiming to pass it through parliament with the regular procedure before the next Eurogroup on May 24, government sources said on Wednesday.

    The bill will include measures on non-performing loans (NPLs), the privatization fund and the contingency mechanism, all of which amount to one percent of GDP.

    According to the sources, the contingency mechanism will not include contingency measures, as it will foresee interventions in the budget, either on the side of revenues, or on the side of costs. They noted, however, that the government will not need to activate it.

    After the Eurogroup, which will confirm that the program review has concluded, the institutions will start the procedures to disburse the next loan installment, which is likely to be paid out in June.

    According to the commitments of the institutions towards Greece, this loan installment will be much higher than 5.7 billion euros, as it will include, apart from the amount to cover Greece's loan requirements, an amount to repay state arrears towards the private sector.

    The same sources also said that technical teams have also started talks on the three phases of debt relief and this roadmap will be clear and automated.

    [06] We restored confidence and created prospects, stated gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili

    "We have restored the confidence, and we are bringing stability and creating prospects," government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said on the outcome of Monday's Eurogroup.

    "When there are proposals, plans and negotiation with steady steps, we have result," she said earlier on Tuesday in an interview with "Parapolitika" radio.

    The government spokeswoman underlined that "the mechanism does not activate specific measures" adding that "the more the safety, the trust and the stability are restored, the more the restrictions will be lifted".

    "Not only we have met our targets, but we have exceeded them," she added while referring to the debt issue she underlined that "the roadmap for the debt relief was set in a short, mid and long term framework."

    [07] Main opposition lashes out at government on Eurogroup outcome

    "The government is celebrating the fourth memorandum with new, painful and harsh measures imposed on the Greek people because of its failure," main opposition New Democracy said on Tuesday on the outcome of the Eurogroup.

    In a statement, New Democracy referred to the increase in indirect taxes that will have an impact on the standard of living, the cuts in salaries and the sale of operating and non-operating loans except for the housing loans for first residence.

    It also referred to the contingent mechanism that provides for salaries and pensions cuts in case targets are not met while the issue of debt is postponed to the end of the program, that is 2018, and the possibility of a debt haircut is ruled out.

    "These measures are harsh and at the same time ineffective," the statement concluded.

    [08] Main opposition criticizes PM's 'triumphalism' at cabinet meeting

    New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsorakis criticized Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' speech at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, saying the government is celebrating while Greece is moving backwards.

    "Every day that passes by, Greece is moving backwards and our government is celebrating," he said, adding that the government has put up a show since the conclusion of the Eurogroup on Monday.

    "The fourth memorandum it will sign, the government's second, will be very painful to cover up the provocative triumphalism. The government signs measures totaling 5.4 bln euros which were not necessary. Now it tries to patch things up with painful measures on pension reform and taxes," Mitsotakis said.

    [09] Gov't is trying to make the people complicit to the crime, KKE says

    SYRIZA-ANEL government resorts once again in a humiliating and degrading policy, Communist Party (KKE) on Tuesday said in a statement on the Eurogroup outcome.

    The communist party also accused the government of having voted for a guillotine pension and tax law and having agreed to an additional memorandum.

    "With the celebrations for debt relief, the promises for recovery and the new success story a la Tsipras, the government is trying to make the people complicit to a crime against them," the statement added.

    [10] Trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon on security, refugee crisis on Wed

    The prospects for trilateral cooperation in sectors such as security, the refugee crisis, culture, energy, and water resources management will be the focus of a trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon at the foreign ministry in Athens on Wednesday.

    The meeting, which will be at the level of Secretaries General, will also discuss matters concerning the relations between the European Union and Lebanon and issues of common interest.

    Greece will be represented by Foreign Ministry's Secretary General, Ambassador Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos.

    [11] No plan B for possible collapse of EU-Turkey deal on refugees, says EC spox

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)

    The European Commission is not preparing a plan B in case the current agreement between the EU and Turkey on managing the refugee crisis collapses, Commission Deputy Chief Spokesperson, Alexander Winterstein, told journalists on Tuesday.

    "We don't have a plan B, we only have a plan A," he said in reply to a question on press reports claiming the EU is considering a new plan. "We negotiated with the Turkish government; we have a deal with the Turkish government and we have the word of the Turkish government," he added, noting that the two sides communicate frequently.

    However, EEAS Spokesperson Foreign and Security Policy, Maja Kocijancic, confirmed on Monday that a scheduled high level meeting in which the Turkish foreign and European Affairs ministers would participate at the end of the week has been cancelled.

    [12] Government seeking four additional spaces to house migrants near Thessaloniki, Kyritsis tells ANA-MPA

    Four new sites near the city of Thessaloniki will be adapted so as to house refugees and migrants, the refugee coordinating committee representative Giorgos Kyritsis told ANA-MPA on Tuesday. "We are proceeding to rent an additional four spaces [in the area]," he said, while clarifying that none of these will be in the Delta municipality, which was already overburdened with refugees and migrants.

    Regarding the four sites near Thessaloniki located during earlier efforts to find premises to house migrants, Kyritsis said the Oreokastro site in a former factory was already fully operational, while one of three sites in Kalohori was ready to receive occupants and the other two were near completion. More refugees and migrants would soon be transferred to facilities in Vagiochori, he added.

    Volvi Mayor Diamantis Liamas told ANA-MPA that all preparations were complete, according to the briefing given to him by the army.

    [13] 54,347 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Tuesday; 1,357 persons died in their attempt to reach European coasts

    54,347 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Tuesday including 7 persons that arrived on the Greek islands in the last 24 hours.

    According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 29,291 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 9,682 of them are in Idomeni camp, 14,435 are hosted in the region of Attica (2,135 hosted at Piraeus port), 8,359 on the Greek islands and 2,262 are hosted in different areas in central and southern Greece.

    Moreover, 155,399 persons have arrived to Greece by sea from early January 2016 until May 8. In the same period the total number of arrivals of refugees to Europe reached 187,631 by sea and 4,861 by land while 1,357 persons died in the Mediterrenean, according to the International Migration Organisation figures.

    Finally, 537 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece in the first week of May and 2,578 in Italy.

    [14] Politicians' 2013 wealth statements to be posted on Parliament website on Wednesday

    The wealth statements submitted for the 2013 financial year (for transactions in the previous year 2012) by Greece's MPs, MEPs and those in charge of political party finances are to be published by the Hellenic Parliament on Wednesday. The statements will be posted on the Parliament website at 13:00 on Wednesday and remain there for a month.

    The Parliament presidency has also issued instructions to speed up the inspection of the statements so that the wealth statements of politicians for the 2014 financial year can be published at the start of the new winter Parliament session in October.

    [15] Greece and Egypt to conduct joint aeronautical exercise east of Crete on May 11-12

    Greece and Egypt are to conduct the joint air and naval military exercise "Medusa 2016" in seas east of the Greek island of Crete on Wednesday and Thursday, the Hellenic National Defence General Staff announced on Tuesday.

    The joint training will include technical drills, air-defence exercises and surface target attacks, involving the participation of the Hellenic Navy, Hellenic Air Force and Egyptian air force aircraft. The joint exercise is part of the existing military cooperation programme between Greece and Egypt.

    Financial News

    [16] European Investment Fund signs 3 deals with Greek banks and funds, aimed at triggering SME investments

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    The European Investment Fund (EIF) has signed three deals with Greek intermediary banks and funds to provide 150 million euros of additional investment to very small, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Greece, the European Commission announced on Tuesday.

    The first agreement, with the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa, is backed by the EU's Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme and will cover a loan portfolio of five million euros for 300 micro-borrowers. It will target mainly farmers, young unemployed borrowers, cooperatives and social enterprises, as well as micro businesses active in the green economy.

    The second deal, backed by the EU's COSME programme, is a 20-million-euro agreement with the Greek investment fund Diorama Investments - whose capital is management by Deca Investments - that is expected to trigger investments of more than 125 million euros for SMEs.

    The third agreement is with InnovFin deal with the ProCredit group, which is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and will provide 20 million euros to innovative SMEs.

    In a press conference in Athens concerning the agreements with Diorama and Cooperative Bank of Karditsa, European Commissioner for employment Marianne Thyssen joined Deputy Economy and Development Minister for NSRF Alexis Charitsis, EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert and executives of Diorama and Cooperative Bank of Karditsa to present the programmes, which are part-funded by the European Commission.

    Thyssen noted that freeing investments in the Greek economy was vital for creating jobs and noted that the European Commission remains fully committed to creating growth without exclusions in Europe.

    Charitsis also highlighted the timing of the agreements, which were announced on the day after the Eurogroup's decisions on Greece and the review of the Greek programme, including the start of a discussion on making Greece's debt sustainable. He said the agreements coincided to a great degree with the Greek government's intiatives for addressing problems such as the deleveraging and shrinking of bank balance sheets.

    In a statement in Brussels, European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: "Small companies in Greece are in great need of financing to grow their businesses and create jobs. The agreements signed by the EIF with ProCredit, Diorama Investments and Cooperative Bank of Karditsa this week will help Greek SMEs access new finance. I encourage other banks to join forces with the EIF and set up similar agreements under the Investment Plan so that we can help more Greek companies flourish."

    [17] Banks must regain confidence of partners and customers, says bank association chief

    Greek banks must build confidence measures with partners and customers to restart the economy, the president of the Hellenic Banks Association, Louka Katseli, said in a speech at a banking forum on Tuesday.

    "The message I want to convey is very clear," Katseli said. "The deficit in trust towards the financial system can and must be covered with everyone's mobilization, if we want the banking system to constitute a key driver in the restart of the economy."

    [18] Greek industrial production index down 4.0 pct in March

    Greek industrial production index fell 4.0 pct in March this year, while manufacturing production fell 2.5 pct in the month, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, said the industrial production index fell 4.0 pct in March compared with the same month last year, after a 5.4 pct decline recorded in the 2015-2014 period, and attributed this development to a 23.8 pct plunge in mining production, a 2.5 pct fall in manufacturing production (reflecting a 17.5 pct drop in clothing, a 10.7 pct fall in oil/coal, a 32.3 pct fall in pc/electronics/optical products and a 43.3 pct drop in vehicles). Electricity production fell 5.1 pct in March, while water production eased 1.9 pct.

    The average industrial production index in the January-March period eased 0.8 pct this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2015, while the seasonally-adjusted index fell 0.8 pct in March from February 2016.

    [19] Greek-Jordanian Business Forum in Amman

    The bilateral investment and business opportunities in Jordan as well as in the wider region were presented on Tuesday to the Greek-Jordanian Bussiness Forum held in Amman with the participation of a business delegation of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Ministers of the Jordanian government and the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas.

    In his address the executive vice president of SEV Constantinos Bitsios stressed that the bilateral economic relations are rising and be extended further adding that Jordan is an important hub center thanks to the organised zones of free trade where the products are propelled to the neighbouring countries.

    Over 50 bilateral meetings with the most important Jordani businesses have been organised in the framework of the forum while on Tuesday Greek companies participated in a series of Mardas' consecutive working meetings with the Industry, Trade and Supplies Minister of Jordan Maha Ali, Energy Minister Ibrahim Saif and the Secretary General of the Water and Irrigation Ministry Tawfiq Habashneh.

    [20] Deadline for Kasteli airport bids pushed back to May 27, says minister

    The infrastructure ministry has pushed backed the deadline for binding bids to build and operate a new airport in Kasteli, in Crete to May 27 to respond to questions and comments made by investors, according to a press release on Tuesday.

    According to Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis, the decision was needed after changes made to the tender, which will be published in the first half of May. This means investors will need more time to form their bids. The extension will safeguard competition and ensure a successful outcome of the tender in favour of the public, he added.

    The initial deadline for the submission of offers was February 23, which then moved to May 6. The announcement was published in Diavgia, a government portal used to publish all acts and decisions for greater transparency.

    [21] Greek inflation rate at -1.3 pct in April

    The Greek economy remained in a deflation trend for the 38th successive month in April, with the consumer price index falling 1.3 pct, after a 1.5 pct decline recorded in March and a 2.1 pct fall in April last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, attributed this development to price declines in food/beverage prices (1.0 pct), clothing/footwear (2.2 pct), housing (4.8 pct), durable goods (1.4 pct), transport (4.5 pct), entertainment (1.4 pct), education (1.3 pct) and other goods and services (1.5 pct). Price increases were recorded in alcohol/tobacco (1.4 pct), health (3.6 pct) and hotel/restaurants (2.7 pct).

    The consumer price index grew 0.7 pct in April from March 2016, after a 0.5 pct rise recorded in the same period last year. Greece's harmonised inflation rate fell 0.4 pct in April, after a 0.7 pct drop in March and an 1.8 pct decline in April last year. On a monthly basis, the harmonised inflation rate grew 0.7 pct in April from March, after a 0.4 pct increase recorded in the corresponding period in 2015.

    [22] Greek trade deficit down 23.7 pct in March

    Greece's trade deficit shrank by 23.7 pct in March this year, for a decline of 6.9 pct in the first quarter of 2016, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report on the country's merchandise trade, said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.631 billion euros in March, from 4.376 billion in March last year, a decline of 17 pct (excluding oil products the value of imports fell 2.4 pct).

    The value of export-deliveries amounted to 2.096 billion euros in March, from 2.364 billion in March 2015, for a decline of a 11.4 pct (excluding oil products the value of exports fell 4.7 pct).

    The country's trade deficit totaled 1.535 billion euros, down 23.7 pct from 10.122 billion in March last year (excluding oil products the trade deficit shrank 4.7 pct).

    In the January-March period, the value of imports totaled 10.122 billion euros, down 8.1 pct from the same period in 2015 (excluding oil products imports fell 3.3 pct), while the value of exports fell 8.9 pct to 5.721 billion euros (excluding oil products exports eased 0.2 pct). The trade deficit fell 6.9 pct in the first quarter to 4.402 billion euros (excluding oil products the trade deficit fell 7.6 pct).

    [23] Creta Farm signs 15-mln-euro loan agreement with EIB

    Creta Farm SA, a Greek-listed food company, on Tuesday signed a loan agreement worth 15 million euros with European Investment Bank. It is the first such agreement signed by EIB in the framework of a support programme offered by the EU's budget guarantee scheme through the European Strategic Investment Fund.

    "Today we inaugurate officially the Juncker Plan for Greece. It is the first significant act of a plan from which Greece hopes to have huge benefits," Economy, Development and Tourism Minister George Stathakis said, addressing a special ceremony in Athens. "It coincides with a very positive step made in a Eurogroup meeting on Monday and signaled what we have been working on for so long, the idea that a cycle of strong stabilisation of Greek economy was closing to enter a new period of strong, we hope, manageable growth and return to positive economic figures," Stathakis said.

    "In this effort towards Greek economic recovery, the European Investment Bank is a strategic partner," the minister said, adding that "the government has made the first steps, presenting the first 42 projects to be included in the Juncker Plan. We still have a lot of work to do".

    [24] Employment trends best since 2001 in Jan-April

    Wage employment in the private sector grew in April, with the hiring/dismissal balance showing a surplus of 90,631 job positions in the month, official figures showed on Tuesday.

    A report by Ergani IT system of the labour ministry, said that new hirings totaled 215,175 in April, while dismissals amounted to 124,545 in the month. Compared with April 2015, the market showed a surplus of 10,408 job positions as the hiring/dismissal balance recorded a surplus of 80,223 job positions in April 2015. Ergani said it was the third successive month of positive wage employment trends in the country's private sector. April is a traditionally positive month for employment.

    In the January-April period, new hirings totaled 593,052 and dismissals amounted to 468,587, leaving a surplus of 124,465 job positions, the highest four-month performance since 2001.

    [25] Car registrations up 24.5 pct in April

    Car registrations grew 24.5 pct in April this year, compared with the same month in 2015, totaling 14,452 vehicles (new or used ones), up from 11,611 in the same month last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that new car registrations amounted to 10,326 vehicles in April, from 8,260 in April 2015, for an increase of 25 pct. In the January-April period, car registrations (new and used ones) totaled 40,671, up 5.2 pct from the same period in 2015, while new car registrations fell 2.4 pct to 26,858 vehicles.

    Motorcycle registrations (new and used ones) amounted to 3,770 in April, form 3,567 in April last year, for an increase of 5.7 pct, while new motorcycle registrations totaled 3,508, up 4.8 pct from April last year. In the four-month period from January to April, motorcycle registrations amounted to 10,282, up 6.1 pct from last year, while new motorcycle registrations grew 4.7 pc to 9,527.

    [26] Greek stocks end strongly up on Tuesday

    Greek stocks ended strongly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market to new 2016 highs in the aftermath of a positive outcome in Monday' s Eurogroup meeting that paved the way for a final agreement between Greek authorities and the country's creditors. The composite index of the market jumped 3.15 pct to end at 629.29 points, extending its upward trend for the fifth successive session with a net gain of 7.82 pct. The index is 0.33 pct down so far this year. The Large Cap index jumped 3.94 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.95 pct higher.

    Turnover soared to 196.471 million euros in volume of 289,452,615. Eurobank (13.6 pct), Piraeus Port (7.18 pct) and PPC (6.01 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Grivalia Properties (0.52 pct) and Metka (0.42 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end lower. National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Banks (6.72 pct), Utilities (3.95 pct) and Food (3.52 pct) scored big gains, while Chemicals (0.66 pct) was the only sector to end lower.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 82 to 23 with another 21 issues unchanged. Viokarpet (20.32 pct), Yalco (19.57 pct) and Kreka (19.15 pct) were top gainers, while Livanis Publications (16.67 pct), Motodynamic (14.29 pct) and Progressive (8.89 pct) were top losers.

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly to 7.64 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 8.26 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.76 pct - a six-and-a-half-month low - from 8.40 pct the previous day, while the German Bund yielded 0.12 pct. Turnover remained a thin 2.0 million euros, all buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate rose to -0.013 pct from -0.014 pct, the nine-month rate rose to -0.078 pct from -0.080 pct, the six-month rate was -0.144 pct from -0.145 pct, the three-month rose to -0.260 pct from -0.262 pct and the one-month rate was -0.349 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.37 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,358 contracts with 17,307 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 108,611 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (27,955), followed by Alpha Bank (13,549), National Bank (21,846), Eurobank (22,501), MIG (2,066), OTE (2,648), PPC (1,843), OPAP (1,030), Hellenic Exchanges (125), Viohalco (325), Mytilineos (336), Hellenic Petroleum (229), GEK (178), Ellaktor (107) and Metka (62).

    General News

    [29] Mega cruise ship Ovation of the Seas to arrive at Piraeus on Sunday

    The brand new cruise ship Ovation of the Seas is expected to dock at Piraeus Port on Sunday (May 15), port authorities said on Tuesday, adding that they have upgraded infrastructure to welcome passengers and crew.

    At 348 metres long, 18 decks and room for 4,180 passengers, the ship of cruise company Royal Caribbean is one of the largest in the world. It was built at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and features many all-new innovations including RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulator; North Star, a jewel-shaped glass capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level to offer 360-degreeof the sea and the horizon; and venues such as a basketball and a roller skate area, as well as bumper cars rides. The 168,660-gt ship also has 2,091 cabins and 1,300 crew.

    To accommodate large cruise ships, Piraeus Port Authority has implemented a number of improvements in existing infrastructure that include the creation of new, air-conditioned, indoor passenger waiting areas with 1,000 seats and the necessary equipment to check-in passengers, the creation of a departure lounge on the first floor as a special waiting and control area for crew members, and the creation of extra positions for passenger and luggage control.

    [30] British police in Kos in renewed effort to find Ben Needham, missing since 1991

    British police on Tuesday returned to the Greek island of Kos in a renewed effort to find information concerning the disappearance of Ben Needham, a toddler who disappeared on July 24, 1991 at the age of 21 months old, while holidaying on the island with his family.

    In a press conference on the island, the British investigators appealed to the island's residents to come forward with any information concerning the case, promising full confidentiality and secrecy. The charity Crimestoppers is also offering a reward of 12,500 euros to anyone that provides information that could lead to finding Ben, who will now be 26 years old.

    The head of the British police investigating team, Detective Inspector Jon Cousins, said that his team "was committed to finding answers about what happened to Ben. We are not here to cast blame or create trouble for anyone. We simply want to find out what happened to him." Cousins was accompanied by Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick and a UK police officer of Greek descent, Thanassis Fourlis.

    He promised that there will be no pressure and that he simply wanted to ask the question: "Could you be Ben? When you were a child, did you have blonde hair and blue eyes? Do you have doubts over who your parents are, or perhaps you look physically different to your parents?"

    Cousins promised that anyone coming forward with such information and doubts will be treated with sensitivity and confidentiality and will have "full control", so that he is not forced to do anything he does not want to, saying it was natural for someone having doubts about who he is to also feel nervous about what could happen to him and his family.

    The British officers referred to an anonymous call received in 1993, two years after Ben disappeared, where an indentified caller told them that Ben was alive, with the name Andreas and was being cared for by someone called Nikos.

    The officers then gave three mobile phone numbers to be used exclusively for the Greek public, in order to contact British police officers in either Greek or English. The numbers are:

    ? 6951040208 (Greek/English)

    ? 6951040217 (Greek/English)

    ? 6951040226 (English)

    [31] Attica police solve major fraud case costing Greek and foreign investors hundreds of millions

    The Attica Security Police Organised Crime Department has uncovered a major case of fake investment fraud targeting Greek and foreign business people, police announced on Tuesday. They said the culprits had formed a large international ring that used offshore firms and tax havens to defraud investors of hundreds of millions of euros, under the cover of carrying out investments.

    The Hellenic Police (ELAS) said a gigantic operation was underway in various areas of Attica and the Peloponnese, in which five leading members of the international ring were arrested on the basis of warrants issued against them, while charges were filed against another 25 suspected members of the criminal organisation.

    Among those arrested is a Greek businessman with activities in Ukraine, while the protagonist of the scam is another Greek national "specialising" in foreign stock markets and large-scale investments in foreign exchange, who has been investigated by the finance ministry's SDOE financial crimes squad in the past.

    According to police, the members of the ring had set up complex firms or funds using bank accounts in dozens of countries considered tax havens and defrauded investors throughout the world, including Greece, of sums exceeding 350 million euros to be spent on supposed investments. More than 60 business people are known to have fallen victims to the scam so far, the majority of them in the UK.

    The Attica police said that they will make announcements once the case if fully cracked, with investigations now also underway in Britain and the Ukraine.

    [32] Tension between refugees in Idomeni

    Tension prevailed earlier on Tuesday at the refugees' camp in Idomeni between refugees when Pakistanis and Afghans started throwing stones and other objects to each other.

    Police intervened and made use of tear gas.

    One refugee was injured and was sent to the medical center for stitches.

    [33] Romanian wanted on European warrant arrested on Crete

    A 28-year old Romanian national wanted on a European warrant issued by the Italian authorities was arrested near Hania on Crete.

    The Romanian is facing charges for armed robbery and attempted murder.

    [34] Health ministry starts immunization campaign for refugees and migrants

    A campaign for the vaccination of refugees and migrants in Greece will start by the makeshift camp of Idomeni on Wednesday, the health ministry announced on Tuesday, adding it will supervise the procedure.

    The vaccination will be carried out by Doctors without Borders in cooperation with the General Secretariat for Public Health, the Hellenic Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Hellenic Research Foundation.

    The ministry aims at extending the campaign to all refugees and migrants staying in hosting centers, following the instructions of the National Immunization Committee and international organizations.

    [35] Exhibition in old gas plant in Athens to mark International Museum Day

    The Industrial Gas Museum, located at the Athens district of Gazi, will host an exhibition on the history of the surrounding area and its inhabitants on May 17, to celebrate International Museum Day.

    The exhibition titled "Gazi: A cultural landscape", is held by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) for its "Museums and cultural sites" event, but the initiative belongs to the museum, which invited elementary school students and their teachers to work on the project.

    The students collected oral witness accounts of residents in the area and artistic collages and aims to showcase how local communities were influenced by the existence of the old energy plant.

    [36] Municipality of Athens distributes food to 11,840 people in need

    The municipality of Athens organized a distribution of food and essential items to destitute citizens under a collaboration deal between "Athens; capital city of solidarity" and the EU's Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which supports EU countries' actions to provide material assistance to the most deprived.

    The next stage of the distribution, which will include mostly fresh food, will take place later in May. The municipality will also start initiatives for social support and advisory services addressed to both adults and children which will begin in the same period.

    Weather forecast

    [37] Mostly fair on Wednesday

    Hot and wet weather is forecast for Wednesday. Southerly winds will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 13C-25C. Scattered clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 10C-28C. Mostly fair over the Aegean islands and Crete, 14C-28C. Scattered clouds in Athens, 13C-28C; the same for Thessaloniki, 12C-23C.

    [38] The Tuesday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    AVGHI: Greece to turn the page

    KATHIMERINI: Cuts in salaries in exchange for debt in installments

    ETHNOS: White smoke for program review and debt

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: All key issues set on the Eurogroup table

    DIMOKRATIA: Indirect tax storm

    ESTIA: Former Olympic facilities without future

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Cuts in salaries and pensions

    TA NEA: Will Greece be rescued at the last minute?

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