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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM briefed by health minister on thorny health system procurements issue
  • [02] Transport minister to Egypt this week
  • [03] National among top banks in SE Europe, report

  • [01] PM briefed by health minister on thorny health system procurements issue

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Monday with Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who briefed the premier on the ministry's programmes and a new integrated strategy for the public health system.

    Avramopoulos told reporters after the meeting that the ministry was promoting substantial legislative work, adding that the tabling of a bill on procurements for public hospitals was imminent; one aimed at consolidating transparency and proper management at all the hospitals throughout the country.

    He said this "deep incision" would save approximately 500 million euros annually, adding that the ministry would proceed with a strengthening of the National Health System (ESY) employees' incomes and the hiring of more personnel.

    The health minister further said that the hiring of 6,000 health-care employees was also proceeding, adding that this would bring substantial relief to the ESY, while new competitions for the hiring of medical personnel would also proceed at a rapid pace, via ASEP (the public sector hiring examinations board) procedures.

    In addition, other bills concerning physical therapists, as well as a wide range of outstanding issues and arrangements, were also being advanced.

    Regarding a question on whether a 500-million-euros annual figure, cited as the cost of price overruns, had in the past been "skimmed" by "middlemen", Avramopoulos stressed that what was important was the future and the activation of controls and transparency mechanisms, as well as the efficient management of procurements.

    The health minister underlined that the government was unyielding and determined not to allow wasteful spending and any lack of transparency, noting that the consolidation of controls and transparency was a "moral and political obligation."

    The minister also expressed regret that Greece continued to rank high with respect to a corruption index.

    Caption: A file photo of PM Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Transport minister to Egypt this week

    Greece's transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis is due to visit Cairo later this week for talks aimed at furthering strengthening Greek-Egyptian relations.

    Liapis, who is due to arrive in Cairo at noon on Friday, will on Sunday have consecutive official meetings with Egyptian Transport minister Mohamed Younes Lotfi Mansour, Minister of Communications & Information Technology Dr. Tarek Kamel, and Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Mohamed Shafiq.

    On Friday night, Liapis will meet representatives of the Greek community at the Hellenic Centre of Cairo, at a dinner given in his honour by the Greek Community of Cairo.

    On Sunday morning, Liapis, accompanied by the Greek Ambassador to Egypt and a delegation of officials from Greece, will be received by transport minister Mansour.

    Liapis and the Greek delegation will later meet with communications and information technology minister Kamel, during which the two countries will sign a Joint Declaration on cooperation. This follows up a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two ministries on October 30, 2006, based on the preparatory work carried out during the first meeting of the Joint Committee on January 24-25.

    Late on Sunday afternoon, Liapis is also due to be received by civil aviation minister Shafiq, with whom he will sign a document on air transport, based on the preparatory meeting of experts from both countries held on February 27-28.

    Liapis is due to return to Athens next Monday (March 5).

    [03] National among top banks in SE Europe, report

    National Bank of Greece is one of the five largest banks with activities in south-eastern Europe, based on its profitability in the region, a report by Emporiki Bank stated on Monday.

    Based on 2006 figures, all southeast European units significantly improved profitability with net, after-tax profits of National Bank's units in the geographical area totalling 108 million euros, up 47 percent from 2005. Loans in the region rose 44 percent to 4.1 billion euros, while its retail banking portfolio grew 52 percent in 2006. Non-servicing loans remained below 4.0 percent for the year.

    The report noted that the main competitors of Greek banks in the region were Austria's Erste Bank and Reiffeisen Zentral Bank; French bank Societe Generale, Italian bank UniCredito and Hungaria's OPT Bank.

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