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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-15

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis briefed by ministers
  • [02] Gov't lauds OTE deal
  • [03] Patriarch visits Larissa

  • [01] Karamanlis briefed by ministers

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday with the ministers of economy<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">, health and employment at the government headquarters (Maximos Mansion) in Athens, and separately with the minister of development. Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis stated afterwards that a decision was reached to form a ministerial committee to coordinate action relating to funding for health, welfare and social security<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> policies<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">, in which the three<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> ministries are involved, <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">part of an effort to boost<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> transparency, efficiency and control <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">spending<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos stated that the government is implementing a reform policy to make the National Health System (ESY) more efficient, stressing that corruption will be better combatted, while pointing out that this takes time and determination. He added that a total of 6,500 hospital personnel have already been hired while an additional 6,000 will be hired by the end of September. Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said the decision to form a ministerial committee to coordinate financial and management issues in the sector of health was very significant; pointing out that the goal is better and quality healthcare for taxpayers. During a separate meeting with Development Minister Christos Folias and Deputy Minister George Vlachos, the prime minister was briefed on the ministry's measures to fight cost-of-living increases as well as instances of profiteering or poor competition in local markets. Among others, Folias said he backs a consumers' boycott announced for Thursday, while he said the government would not shudder from closing down an import firm found liable for funnelling adulterated goods onto the market, in answer to a question over the recent discovery of petroleum by-products in cooking oil (sun flower seed) imported from the Ukraine. He added that the name of the specific firm will be announced in due course. Caption: File photo of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. ANA-MPA.

    [02] Gov't lauds OTE deal

    The agreement struck for the sale of a controlling stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the transfer of its management to Deutsche Telekom (DT) reflects the success of the government's policies in the past four years, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos asserted on Thursday.

    "This is a very important development because it proves beyond doubt that foreign institutional investors have confidence in our economy and everything that has happed in the last four years during the government's major effort to boost the Greek economy," Roussopoulos said.

    Replying to questions on whether the deal was cause for celebration - and whether the Greek tax-payer had any cause to celebrate - Roussopoulos said that the agreement would prove beneficial for both citizens and the state sector and that it was achieved after a four-year effort to put OTE "back on its feet" and make it an attractive prospect.

    This drive by OTE CEO Panagiotis Vourloumis and the government to reform the phone utility, which had been strongly criticised by some quarters, had led a major European company based in Germany to buy the 3 percent sold by the Greek government, he noted.

    "If all this had not happened, there would be no chance that we would now have the participation of a big foreign company that strengthens [OTE], the national economy and the Greek citizen," the spokesman added.

    Responding to a front-page story by at least one Athens daily regarding details of the deal and the rights reserved by the government, Roussopoulos underlined that the Greek side retained significant veto powers on a series of issues concerning the utility's strategic future options.

    "As a result, we are talking about management being carried out with the collaboration of the two sides and, in any case, certainly with the Greek side keeping the right to stop any of the major decisions that the manager in charge of day-to-day management may wish to take," he stressed.

    Roussopoulos also clarified that the agreement specifically spelled out the issues on which the Greek state could raise a veto and stressed that it was not "undiscriminating" or "without terms".

    The spokesman additionally pointed to the benefits for ordinary consumers and taxpayers, noting that the phone utility's capabilities would multiply as part of a large European telecoms group.

    He further pointed out that with 66 percent of OTE already sold on the equity market, it would have been vulnerable to a hostile takeover by two or three large funds that could have led to tenuous situations.

    Questioned about an option stipulated in the agreement, under which the government will have the right to sell more of its shares in OTE at a set price within a given time period, Roussopoulos said the government ruled out reducing its share to these percentages, and said that any future government should also move along these lines.

    Specifically, the deal gives the state the right to sell 5 percent of its stake in OTE at a minimum price of 27.5 euros per share for one year, while another clause allows the state to sell another 10 percent by 2011. It also bars DT from either acquiring or selling OTE shares on the market until 2011.

    The spokesman pointed out that European regulations and any problems that may arise with these will also have to be taken into account.

    Asked whether consumers would benefit in their pockets from the lowering of OTE rates, Roussopoulos replied that "competition is definitely beneficial".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo.

    [03] Patriarch visits Larissa

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos (Bartholomew I) arrived in Larissa, central Greece, on the occasion of the feast day of the city's patron saint, Aghios Achillios, which is celebrated on Thursday.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch arrived for a two-day visit on Wednesday and was made honorary citizen of after receiving the city's gold key by its mayor, who stressed that the city is welcoming the head of the Orthodox Church for the first time in 18 centuries.

    A church service was later held in the presence of Vartholomeos, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, 33 Metropolitans, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and local authorities.

    Caption: Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Athens on Tuesday 13 May 2008. ANA-MPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU


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