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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-31

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Inner Cabinet focuses on healthcare reforms
  • [02] Report: Mega-mergers by Greek banks unlikely

  • [01] Inner Cabinet focuses on healthcare reforms

    Healthcare-related issues dominated Tuesday's Inner Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, with Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos later briefing reporters over a set of reforms in the sensitive sector, especially changes in the procurement of medical and hospital supplies.

    Avramopoulos said a relevant draft bill will be tabled next month in Parliament aimed at increasing transparency and effectiveness as well as slashing red tape. He also cited the establishment of a so-called "disability card" within the national health system (ESY) and an overall policy to upgrade and modernise practically every facet of the system.

    Asked about the scourge of under-the-table payments to medical staff at public hospitals and clinics by patients and patients' relatives, Avramopoulos said such "backhanders" are essentially an "indirect and stealthy purchase of the preferred physician's attention ... the system's structures will be modernised once a first-stage healthcare system is in place; all these phenomena will be eradicated," he said.

    In an unrelated development, Karamanlis also met with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis ahead of an off-the-agenda Parliament debate regarding foreign policy issues as well as a pending EU Commission report on Turkey's closely watched accession course.

    The prime minister himself requested the debate.

    Caption: PM Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Report: Mega-mergers by Greek banks unlikely

    Any "mega-mergers" in the domestic banking market, after the sale of previously state-run Emporiki Bank, is unlikely, a report by Kantor Capital SA stated on Tuesday. The annual report on the Greek banking market said any merger moves in the market would focus on smaller banking institutions.

    The Post Savings Bank is the first takeover "target" for larger banks, followed by Cyprus Bank and the Marfin Group, Kantor Capital said in its report, adding that the purchase of Post Savings Bank would add significant value to NovaBank, Aspis Bank and Geniki Bank, while of significant value would be generated from mergers between NovaBank and Cyprus Bank, or between NovaBank and Aspis Bank. The report noted that foreign players were interested only in the "big five" Greek banks, and particularly in their international operations.

    Kantor cited a 40-percent improvement in profitability last year in the banking sector, with interest revenues the biggest revenue source (with an average 73-81 percent of total revenues).

    The three largest banks reported a 6.0-pct increase in assets last year, with average asset return of up to 1.2 pct in 2005 from 1.0 pct in 2004. Spending on personnel fell an average 2.0 pct, while the average branch productivity rose by 1.7 percent.

    Large Greek banks' added value fell by 39 percent in 2005 to 30 million euros, from 50 million euros in 2004, while smaller banks continued reporting negative added value.

    Local banks' workforce totalled 91,044 last year, up 16 percent from 2004, reflecting mainly a trend in takeovers abroad by Greek banks.

    Caption: An ANA-MPA file photo shows an Emporiki Bank storefront in Athens / K. Mavrona.

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