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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-27
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Cabinet approves draft bill against private-sector corruptionA draft bill designed to combat corruption in the private sector was unanimously approved by the inner cabinet on Tuesday, in a session chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Commenting on the draft bill prepared by his ministry, Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras stressed that combating corruption in all its forms remained the government's "top priority".
"Our government - and the prime minister in person - has made it a programme target to fight corruption, which has been a scourge for society in the recent past," he said later the same day.
He also underlined innovative elements in the proposed reforms, which he said would fully harmonise Greek laws with those in other European Union countries once passed.
"For the first time, a penalty is introduced for bribery in the private sector and for the illegal exercise of influence," he stressed.
Presenting the draft bill to the press in detail during a later press conference, Papaligouras said that it was unrealistic to differentiate between corruption in the private and public sectors in the present day. Corruption had its counterparts in the private sector as much as the public sector and the two were often intertwined, operating in tandem, the minister said.
"A modern, organised society should deal with corruption without a 'name of origin' and fight it in all areas, on all levels, without discrimination or exceptions. This is our government's political intention," Papaligouras emphasised.
Stressing that corruption and graft had become a latter-day "Lernaean Hydra" for Greek society, the justice minister said the bill drawn up by his ministry would be a powerful new weapon in the state's efforts for reform.
Among proposed measures, he listed newly introduced prison sentences for bribery in the private sector, ranging from one to five years, for those "intentionally through the exercise of business activity promises or provides any form of undue advantage or exchange to persons working with private-sector bodies for actions or omissions contravening their duty".
Offering or exercising illegal influence is also punishable with prison sentences ranging from three months to five years under the proposed bill, while prison sentences and fines are introduced for the first time for those deliberately using or completing an invoice or other accounts documents containing false or incomplete information, or who illegally omit to make records of payments.
PM receives defence minister
Karamanlis had a meeting with National Defence Minister Vangelis Meimarakis before the start of the inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.
 PASOK on election demand; latest poll resultsMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party spokesman Petros Efthymiou commented Monday on the issue of opinion polls and early elections, saying that the real opinion poll is the ballot box poll, while adding that the government has already been called on to agree to it and that it is time for the people to speak.
On the question of what PASOK plans to do if early elections are not called, Efthymiou said "elections are a necessity that the Greek people are sharing, who are experiencing the deadlocks of government policy."
Commenting on statements made on Monday by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, the main opposition spokesman said "he is repeating an attack on PASOK's president George Papandreou, without replying to the specific issues raised by him."
PASOK's spokesman, a former education minister in a previous Simitis government, pointed out that universities remain closed, while we have "unaccountable action by hooded people in areas not included in the asylum (regime), because no asylum is applied to public streets and squares, either in Athens or Thessaloniki."
ND 2.9 points ahead of PASOK in latest poll
Meanwhile, ruling New Democracy party appears to hold a 2.9-percentage point lead over main opposition PASOK in voters' preference, according to a survey conducted by the Athens firm GPO.
The results of the poll were presented on the private television channel Monday night.
According to poll's findings, 37 percent of respondents said they intended to vote for ND in an upcoming election, compared with 34.1 percent for PASOK; 6.9 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE); 4 percent for the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party and 4.3 percent for the out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party. Undecideds accounted for 7.7 percent of those asked.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis also had an imposing lead over PASOK leader George Papandreou on the question of who was best suited for prime minister, with 49 percent of respondents choosing Karamanlis against just 25.1 percent for Papandreou.
A large majority of those asked (67.4 percent) said that sit-ins and takeovers at universities should stop, while just under half (48.3 percent) believe that a draft law on higher education reform tabled last week by the government is moving in the right direction, a figure that was a majority over those opposed and those who declared themselves undecided.
Caption: An ANA-MPA file photo of Petros Efthymiou.
 Con'f on river pollution risk from industrial accidentsA total of 261 industrial plants in and around the drainage basin of the Strymonas River in northern Greece increase the risk of water pollution due to potential industrial accidents, according to figures presented on Tuesday during a conference held in Thessaloniki.
The conference was organised by the Central Macedonia Region within the framework of the River Shield project.
The INTERREG IIB CADSES-funded project seeks to protect rivers from pollution caused by industrial accidents via the development and implementation of risk management, prevention and optimum response strategies.
The pollution risk was calculated by using the Water Risk Class (WRC) index to evaluate the substances that could end up in the water based on their toxicity and other characteristics, such as the rate of accumulation in the human body.
Caption: A file photo shows industrial waste from industries located in the Makrychori municipality, Larissa prefecture, flowing towards the Pineios River of central Greece, just upstream from the renowned Tempi Valley, Sunday June 4, 2006. Environmental groups charge that local production units dump industrial waste into the river to avoid the cost of waste treatment. ANA-MPA / V. Paschali.
 2nd int'l energy summit in AthensThe need for immediate action on energy policy issues and measures taken by the Greek government toward this direction were pointed out by Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas in a keynote address at the 2nd International Energy Summit organised by the Economist group at the Athens seaside resort of Vouliagmeni.
Sioufas stressed that the changes to the global climate were a clear warning that should not be ignored by any economic sector. Apart from ensuring adequate energy supply, alternative forms of energy and energy conservation should be seriously considered, he warned.
The minister pointed out that, in the past three years, the government's main energy policy axes were the creation of a modern and integrated domestic energy market and the country's active participation in international energy networks while supporting wide-scale EU initiatives.
Sioufas referred specifically to the construction of the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline launched in July 2005 and expected to be completed in June 2007 and to the agreement for the construction of the Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline.
He said that the entire project is of major importance for Europe, being the first natural gas corridor from the region of the Caspian Sea and the Middle East to the major energy consumption centers of Western Europe.
Sioufas also cited the long-awaited planned Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, cooperation on energy issues with Egypt, Albania and the Arab world as well as multilateral cooperation within the framework of the SE Europe Energy Community.
Christos Papoutsis, a top main opposition PASOK party deputy and a former EU Commissioner, pointed out in his address that energy undoubtedly constitutes the basis for the global economy and growth leading to social prosperity. Papoutsis stressed the importance of renewable sources of energy and the rational use of energy resources.
He also highlighted the role Greece can play in energy issues based on the fact that it has the strongest economy in southeastern Europe, extensive experience in the energy sector and, more importantly, the largest merchant fleet in the world.
Caption: Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. ANA-MPA.
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