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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-14
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM calls for front against profiteering, fraudPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed the annual general assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) at the Athens concert hall on Tuesday evening, where he stressed the need for the creation of a powerful front against phenomena of profiteering, adulteration and fraud.
The prime minister sent a message to business people as well, noting that a free market "does not mean an unaccountable market".
Karamanlis called on all state agencies related to the market "to contribute so as to avoid second stage negative repercussions from imported inflation, to see that our products will reach the consumer with high quality and low prices and to prove in practice that a free market does not mean an unaccountable market."
He further said that "all have responsibilities regarding the smooth operation of the market, which is the state, through the continuous support for its regulatory and supervisory role, as well as businesses through the avoidance of oligopolistic practices."
Referring to foreign investments in the country, the prime minister stressed the need for it to be understood that the increase in investments, the extroversion of firms, the competitiveness of the economy and the attractiveness of Greece jointly shape the most crucial preconditions for securing strong growth.
Karamanlis underlined that the main targets of the government's policy are the creation of necessary conditions to increase wealth produced, the tackling of unemployment and the fairer distribution of social dividends.
He also focused on the international crisis and the surge in prices caused by the upsetting of the balance between supply and demand in food, the vibrations from the fiscal crisis and the slowdown in the economy of the United States which are being conveyed, as he said, to the economies of the entire world and, lastly, the chain increases in oil prices which from 26 dollars in 2003 have reached 126 dollars today and are intensifying even more, as he added, uncertainties in the modern-day world.
The prime minister also referred to the economic situation prevailing all over Europe where, as he said, growth rates are receding, while inflation is being strongly felt and the European Commission is revising its assessments for the worse.
"The path to the future, for all European countries, is becoming more demanding. Certainly, however, the economies of the euro zone are proving to be more durable in their confrontation with international pressure," he said.
Karamanlis also stressed that he shall "continue the policy of reforms which have shielded the economy to a considerable degree, secured high growth rates and are restricting unfavourable repercussions."
Lastly, he said that "the latest assessments by the European Commission certify that growth will continue in our country with rates that are double the average of the euro zone, employment will increase by more than 1 percent per year and unemployment will continue to decrease."
Caption: Greek Premier Costas Karamanlis addresses the general assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) at the Athens concert hall on Tuesday, May 13, 2008. ANA-MPA / G. ANTONIOU
 Truckers' strike continuesIn a surprise development on Wednesday, truck owners voted against their union leadership's recommendation and decided to continue a strike that has lasted for 10 consecutive days, leading to widespread shortages of fuel and other goods on local markets.
Meanwhile, Greece's largest trade unions, the civil servants' union ADEDY and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), are launching a new round of strikes on Thursday, beginning with a four-hour work stoppage by civil servants to demand higher wage increases.
Strike action on Thursday will also be announced by GSEE over the planned privatisation of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the container terminals at Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports.
Joining in with the strike action is the bank workers' union OTOE, which has called a 24-hour nationwide strike at banks that have refused to take part in negotiations for a collective labour agreement in the banking sector. OTOE called off a strike at the Bank of Greece after the central bank sent a letter clarifying that it was not refusing to attend the negotiations for a collective agreement.
 OTE-DT telecoms deal finalisedThe government on Wednesday officially announced the more-or-less expected transfer of state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organization's (OTE) management to Deutsche Telekom (DT), noting that another 3-percent of the listed company's shares will be purchased by DT for 442.3 million euros.
In announcing the agreement, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who was accompanied by Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, said DT will pay 29.75 euros per share. The deal will give DT some 23 percent of OTE's shares, as previous reports stated that the German telecoms giant will aim to acquire 25 percent + one share -- the remaining shares ostensibly will be acquired on the market.
Alogoskoufis also said that although the Greek state has no intent to sell-off more of its shares in OTE, the biggest telecoms provider in the Balkans, it retains the right to do so at a set minimum price for one year -- 5 percent for at least 27.5 euros per share. He also cited a similar clause for selling off 10 percent by 2011.
In repeating various "safety clauses" retained by the Greek state vis-à-vis OTE, Alogoskoufis said the government will retain the right to veto decisions involving national security and defence; it will be represented with two appointees on a four-person "executive committee" appointed to run the company's day-to-day operations, whereas rates will fall under the jurisdiction of the independent telecoms watchdog authority EETT.
Expectedly, the announcement of the final deal to transfer OTE's management generated a firestorm of criticism by the opposition.
Caption: A file photo shows the exterior of OTE's headquarters in the north Athens suburb of Maroussi. ANA-MPA / PANTELIS SAITAS.
 Gov't, Alavanos on Article 16Referring to attempts to revise Article 16 of the Constitution to allow the establishment of non-state universities in Greece, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday charged that this was another instance highlighting the "hypocrisy" of main opposition PASOK.
The spokesman was referring to revelations, made in Parliament by Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis the same day, that a draft bill that would have allowed non-state universities to be established in the country had been prepared and signed by PASOK ministers in 1996. One of the ministers that signed the draft bill is the main opposition party's current leader George Papandreou - then a minister for education.
Roussopoulos said Papandreou, in particular, had spoken out in favour of revising Article 16 in statements before the elections and had even tried to pass a law to this effect as minister, but is now refusing to support what were essentially the same reforms initiated by ruling New Democracy.
"We hope that Mr. Papandreou, even at the final hour, will reconsider the issue," the spokesman added, pointing out that this measure was for the benefit of young people now forced for various reasons to head abroad to study.
In comments on the same issue, meanwhile, the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group welcomed what he said was "the funeral of Article 16".
Alavanos said the discussion in Parliament indicated clearly that the required 180 votes for revising the specific article could not be collected - even though it was a policy shared by both ruling ND and main opposition PASOK - and he hailed this as a great victory for Greece's student and educational movement.
"Article 16 was essentially the cause for the collapse of ND's entire revision of the Constitution," he added.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavanos.
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