|Wednesday, 11 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-05-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Weekend News Bulletin
Monday May 23, 2016
 Parliament approves bill on prior actions with 153 votesGreek parliament approved in principle and by majority on Sunday the omnibus bill on the prior actions demanded by Greece's lenders to conclude the program review, with 153 votes in favour and 145 against. New Democracy MP Adonis Georgiadis and Potami MP Grigoris Psarianos were absent.
A surprise vote against two articles came by SYRIZA MP Vasiliki Katrivanou who voted against the new privatization fund and the contingency mechanism.
During a roll-call vote on the articles requested by Golden Dawn, opposition parties approved several of the articles: New Democracy voted "Yes" for articles 1-43 on the establishment of the Independent Public Revenues Authority, article 56 on amendments concerning gambling and articles 215-230 on the concession on regional airports and matters relating to contract implementation.
PASOK voted "Yes" on articles 215 and 216 on regional airports. The Communist Party voted "Present" on article 44 concerning issues of income taxation, article 48 on taxation of organizations for collective investments and article 56 on gambling. Golden Dawn voted against all the articles.
Potami voted "Yes" on articles 1, that concerns the establishment of the general secretariat for public revenues, article 56 on gambling, article 65 on the definition of a professional farmer, article 66 on changes to the taxation of alcoholic beverages, article 105 on the procedure to settle differences of the Competition Committee and articles 215-230 on regional airports. The party also voted "present" on article 153 on forest maps.
The Centrists Union voted "present" on article 66 on taxation of alcoholic beverages and articles 215-230 on regional airports. It voted "No" on all other article.
Independent MP Haris Theoharis voted articles 1, 5, 7 and 35 on the independent public revenues authority, "present" on article 66 on alcoholic beverages and 215-230 on regional airports.
 SYRIZA MP who voted against two measures in omnibus bill urged to resignSYRIZA MP Vasiliki Katrivanou, who voted against two measures in the government's omnibus bill in parliament on Sunday will not be expelled from the party, SYRIZA sources said, but added that "the lawmaker will have to take some decisions", insinuating she should resign.
The same sources said there will be developments on the issue very soon.
Katrivanou voted in favour of the bill in principle but against the articles on the contingency mechanism and the new privatisation fund, causing frustration to the government and the party.
 State minister says conclusion of program review will form new reality for GreeceThe completion of Greece's first program review will form a new reality for the country, State Minister Nikos Pappas said on Sunday, during a debate in parliament on the prior actions demanded by the country's lenders.
Pappas said the main opposition, New Democracy, should adapt to this reality "because the short left tenure ND dreamt of will become an eight-year mandate."
He also said that once the program review has concluded, Greece will turn a page and a debate on debt relief will open, while liquidity will be restored as the Juncker plan will unlock new funds for the economy. In this reality "ND will suffer trying to position itself historically."
 Government will not pass any new measures until 2018, says ministerThe government will not pass any additional measures as the current bill covers the fiscal targets for 2016, 2017 and 2018, Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Chouliarakis said in a speech in parliament on Sunday.
"The program review which is concluding today is not the last one but it is undoubtedly the toughest and most important and finalises all the financial commitments undertaken by the country until 2018," the minister told lawmakers during a debate on the prior actions bill.
Commenting on the tax measures included in the bill, he acknowledged they burden the available income, adding that "most taxes which distort the operation of the market create the wrong incentives and cause recession".
He also called on New Democracy to support the bill.
 Communist Party accuses government of 'impudence' in debate on prior actionsCommunist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas accused the government of "fathomless impudence" for celebrating the conclusion of the program review while voting for contingency measures, during a debate in parliament on Sunday on the prior actions bill.
"The program review is concluding, they say, with the omnibus bill and the measures that have no end. It's a fathomless impudence to celebrate and to claim you managed to close it without any new measures when you bring the mechanism; that you're avoiding horizontal cuts when you 're introducing a tool that will cut everything ... Who do you think you're fooling?" Koutsoumbas said.
 Tsipras, Erdogan to focus on EU-Turkey deal in meeting on MondayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Monday at 18.00 to discuss the refugee issue and the implementation of the EUTurkey agreement and bilateral relations, on the sidelines of the U.N. World Humanitarian Summit.
According to government sources, the EU-Turkey deal is seen as "key" in the management of refugee flows in the Aegean and Tsipras is expected to note its importance in tackling the issue. He will also ask Erdogan to continue Greek-Turkish cooperation to make this deal work.
Apart from the agreement, the two leaders will also discuss bilateral relations, with the same sources noting Tsipras will raise the issue of Turkey's military activity and violations in the Aegean.
In Istanbul, foreign dignitaries will be welcomed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and Erdogan at 07:30-07:50. The meeting of heads of state will be held at 08:00-10:00 and the summit will start at 11.00 and end at 18.15. Tsipras will also participate in a round table titled: "We do not leave anyone behind: a commitment to address forced displacement".
Tsipras will be accompanied by government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas and Deputy Minister of Education Theodosis Pelegrinis.
 PM Tsipras: ND leader identifies with the harshest positions of the institutionsThe main opposition agrees with the harshest measures demanded by the institutions, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in parliament on Sunday, adding that New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis' remark on Greece's debt echoes that of Germany's Finance Minister that the country's problem is not its debt.
"Your problem is you identify with the worst positions of our creditors," Tsipras told lawmakers during a debate on the prior actions bill demanded by Greece's lenders to close the program review. "You want tough reforms but you don't want a debt settlement. You are on the IMF's side on reforms and on [Wolfgang] Schaeuble's side on the debt issue."
He went on to say that Greece's problem is that it is negotiating with many parties, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanding very tough reforms and additional measures, but also urging for debt cancellation. On the other side, he continued, Europeans say the measures demanded by the IMF are excessive and flexibility is needed, but at the same time cannot allow debt cancellation. "This is the problem of the negotiation," he said.
Continuing on the debt issue, Tsipras said his government is fighting to achieve a "realistic solution ... a significant debt reduction, so we can take the weight off citizens' backs who will be burdened with the process of reconstruction in this country for the next years."
He also cited a statement by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who said "we've taken a lot from Greeks and given them little" and urged New Democracy to side with the national effort.
Tsipras also replied to ND's request for elections: "You told us you will implement your great ideas from 2017 until 2021. What happened Mr. Mitsotakis? We should not leave yet? Shall we wait until 2017?" He went on to say that ND will remain in the opposition until September 2019 and then for at least one four-year term.
He then went on to announce the establishment of the Social Solidarity Fund, which he said will fund the minimum guaranteed income and tackle injustices.
 Labour unions, parties join rally against prior actions billLabour unions and political parties are holding a rally outside the parliament on Sunday to protest against the omnibus bill on prior actions as the voting process is underway.
"The debate on debt is a success story that shifts the burden from us to our grandchildren, so we invite all citizens to resist this policy even if the bill is approved, and we also invite SYRIZA lawmakers who will vote the bill to consider their legacy," said Stavros Koutsoubelis, the head of public sector union ADEDY.
Apart from ADEDY, Popular Unity party (LAE), ANDARSYA, employees in public transport and PAME union also joined the rally. The unions also warned that approval of the measures will not end their labour action.
 Finance ministry to impose 35 pct flat tax rate on gambling revenuesThe government will impose a unified tax rate of 35 pct on the mixed revenues of gambling companies, according to an amendment tabled by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos in parliament on Sunday.
With the amendment, Tsakalotos abolished the tiered pricing with rates that ranged from 30-35 pct depending on gross revenues and replaced it with a single rate of 35 pct.
 Pavlopoulos hails the role of judges in administering JusticePresident Prokopis Pavlopoulos hailed the role of judges on Sunday during an event marking the 21-year anniversary of the opening of the National School of Judges in Thessaloniki.
"The judicial officer applies the relevant rules of law guided solely ... by the Constitution," Pavlopoulos said in his speech, and noted the ways to avoid a conflict between the Constitution and European law.
He also said the school must staff the Judiciary "with officials who are able to fully meet the mission of Justice, which is the administration of Justice, according to the Constitution."
 ND leader: The contingency mechanism shows Greece's creditors don't trust TsiprasThe demand for a contingency mechanism shows Greece's creditors don't trust Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday, during a debate in parliament on the prior actions demanded by the country's lenders.
"The mechanism measures your personal credibility Mr. Tsipras," Mitsotakis said. "They are humiliating you with the mechanism and the superfund [privatization fund] and insulting the Greek people. Today is a day of shame for the Greek parliament. We're paying the price of the government's lies. Why does the Development of Public Property Fund have a 100-year life? Why wasn't HRADF enough?" he asked. "Because they don't trust you. The problem was never about the structure or operation of HRADF, but your inconsistencies."
He went on to read out SYRIZA's program which said it would cancel all privatisations and the "pillaging of public wealth" and asked: "Who are you kidding? You are binding the next generations. Shame on you Mr. Tsipras."
The ND leader said the party will vote for the article on the creation of an independent public revenues authority and the privatisations included in this bill, citing the concession for the operation of 14 regional airports.
Turning to Tsipras, Mitsotakis accused him of being "a populist, an opportunist and power hungry, who's only interesting in remaining in power," adding that ND's request for general elections is more relevant than ever. "The sooner you leave the better for the country. We'll build a political alliance, the wide reformist front the country needs," he added.
 Defence ministry will find alternative measures to avoid cutting wages of uniformed employees, says ministerThe ministry of defence will find measures of equivalent value to avoid freezing wage increases and promotions in special wage grids by cutting defence programs, Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said earlier in parliament on Sunday, during a debate on the prior actions bill.
"The amendment would ruin sectors that support the State and changed with the intervention of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras," the minister told lawmakers. He then rejected complaints by the main opposition saying: "would you rather cut the wages of uniformed employees?"
Kammenos recognized that taxation is "in some cases unbearable" but stressed that this is the last time the Greek parliament will take such measures. He also noted that the program review will close on Tuesday, which, he said, is something no previous government has achieved.
 Event in central Athens marks genocide of Pontic Greeks and ArmeniansProminent Greeks of Armenian and Pontic descent were honored during a special ceremony held at the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens on Saturday, which culminated a series of events organized by the ministry of defence to mark the anniversary of the Pontic Greek and Armenian genocide in the early 20th century.
"The genocide of Pontic Greeks and Armenians remains in collective memory as one of the most horrific crimes of the last century, but also as a crime for which, after so many years, justice has not been served," Defence Minister Panos Kammenos in his speech.
He also urged for all parties involved to continue the fight for international recognition of the event.
 Weather ForecastWeather will improve next week with mostly sunny weather forecast for Monday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale and temperature will increase. Mostly fair in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 13C-26C. Mostly sunny weather is also expected in the western parts in the morning but cloudiness is seen for the afternoon. Temperatures will range between 13C-27C. Mostly sunny weather in the eastern parts with temperatures between 16C-25C. Clouds and scattered rain are forecast for Crete but sun is seen for the Aegean islands, 15C-25C. Mostly fair in Athens, 13C-27C.
Mostly fair in Thessaloniki, with some clouds in the afternoon, 13C-25C.
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