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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-07

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Unilever Hellas wins top award in Best WorkPlaces 2005
  • [02] Finmin Alogoskoufis in Cyprus for talks
  • [03] Three suspects arrested on charges of antiquities smuggling
  • [04] EU lauds action on curbing deficits
  • [05] Ambitious downtown Athens renovation project to open this month

  • [01] Unilever Hellas wins top award in Best WorkPlaces 2005

    The businesses with the best working environment in Greece for 2005 (Best WorkPlaces 2005) were awarded on Wednesday during a special event organised by the Great Place to Work Institute Hellas in cooperation with ALBA. The first prize went to Unilever Hellas AEBE.

    The prizes to the 20 businesses with the best working environment in Greece for 2005 were awarded by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Labour and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos and General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) Christos Polyzogopoulos.

    Taking part in this year's competition were 49 companies from a broad spectrum of business activity.

    [02] Finmin Alogoskoufis in Cyprus for talks

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis begins a visit to Cyprus on Thursday, accompanied by the heads of the Athens bourse and the ministry's council of economists.

    Alogoskoufis will hold talks with the president of the island republic, Tassos Papadopoulos, on Saturday; and separately with his Cypriot counterpart, Makis Keravnos.

    In addition, the minister is to address the Cyprus Chamber of Trade and Industry and Organisation for Greek Exports at a dinner hosted for him by the two trade groups on Friday.

    [03] Three suspects arrested on charges of antiquities smuggling

    Three individuals were arrested in Thessaloniki on Wednesday, after police discovered antiquities, including 18th and 19th century icons at their place of residence and employment.

    Since most of the antiquities - 18th and 19th century icons - were from Bulgaria, Thessaloniki police have already notified Interpol. Other antiquities included leather belts, jewelry, a revolver and three pistols.

    Two of the suspects are a couple who own an antiques store in Thessaloniki.

    According to the archaeologist who examined the antiquities, all the objects are subject to the protection of archaeological law and date back to the mid-Byzantine and pre-historic eras.

    [04] EU lauds action on curbing deficits

    The European Commission on Wednesday concluded that Greece is taking effective action to reduce its deficit below 3% in 2006 consistent with a Council decision taken last February.

    The Greek stability programme for 2004-2007 shows the Greek deficit falling to 3.7% of GDP in 2005 and to 2.9% in 2006, after having peaked at 6.1% last year, the Commission said in its recommendation. The budgetary strategy is based on a mix of revenue-enhancing measures and expenditure retrenchment, allowing for a primary surplus of 0.7% of GDP in 2005. But the Commission sees risks for 2005 and beyond, and calls on Greece to implement the necessary permanent measures to ensure the correction of the excessive deficit by 2006.

    ?The Greek government must be praised not only for implementing the 2005 budget with rigour but also for announcing additional measures for this year. Taking into account the existing risks, I welcome its commitment to present a budget for 2006 in which the deficit would be brought below 3% of GDP? said Joaqu?n Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs.

    Stability programme

    The revised update of the stability programme targets a deficit of 2.9% of GDP in 2006 and an overall reduction of 3.7 percentage points of GDP between 2004-2007. The stock of debt is expected to fall below 105% in 2007. Against a slowing yet still strong rate of projected economic growth, the budget deficit net of cyclical factors is however set to stay above the 3% of GDP reference value over the programme period.

    In the Commission‚s view a part of the official revenue and expenditure projections would appear to be on the optimistic side, entailing the risk that deficits may turn out higher than planned. Moreover, on 18 March Eurostat expressed reservations about the 2004 deficit figures, underlining the possibility of upward revisions.

    Therefore, Greece is encouraged to implement the necessary measures to ensure the correction of the excessive deficit by 2006 at the latest, as recommended by the Council last February. The Commission also sees appropriate to enhance the efforts aiming at identifying and controlling below-the-line operations, and to improve the collection and processing of general government data in collaboration with Eurostat. The Commission also calls on Greece to take steps to ensure the sustainability of public finances.

    The assessment of compliance with the February Council recommendations under Article 104(9) is positive. Available information suggests that the 2005 budget is being implemented rigorously. However, to bring the deficit below 3% of GDP in 2006 additional measures may be needed within the 2006 budget. The Greek government committed to take such measures if necessary. Significant steps have also been taken to identify the different sources of the stock-flow adjustments, which are a main cause of the increase in public debt. Efforts are also being made to improve the collection and processing of government statistics, although more remains to be done, as indicated by the non-validation of the 2004 fiscal data by Eurostat.

    Based on this assessment, no further steps were needed at present, the Commission said. A new assessment will be made before the end of the year.

    The Council is expected to examine the Commission communication and adopt an opinion on the stability programme on April 12.

    [05] Ambitious downtown Athens renovation project to open this month

    Ambitious downtown Athens renovation project to open this month

    Piraeus Bank Real Estate on Wednesday officially unveiled the Greek capital's largest shopping centre, CityLink, located very near Syntagma Square in downtown Athens.

    CityLink is expected to officially open in the first half of April with the inauguration of the Attica department store.

    CityLink covers an area of 65,000 square metres of the former Army Pension Fund Building.

    Piraeus Real Estate spent more than 250 million euros to renovate the building, which occupies an entire downtown city block.

    CityLink will also include health and fitness club, coffee shops, restaurants, two fully renovated theatres and a night club.

    Renovation began in 2000.

    (Caption: A scale model depicts the renovated exterior of the new CityLink shopping centre in downtown Athens)


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