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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: Support for incomes, no new taxes
  • [02] Vote on PASOK's Vatopedi motion on Oct. 24
  • [03] Greek cooperative banks report improved 9-month results
  • [04] National Bank head: Banking system changing radically

  • [01] PM: Support for incomes, no new taxes

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA) The plan for supporting the Greek financial system seeks to ensure stability and protect incomes, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday. He also stressed his opposition to abandoning or greatly relaxing the EU Stability Pact because of the crisis.

    "A reversal of the stability pact should be neither expected nor should it happen," the Greek premier told reporters during a press conference, in which he presented the decisions made by the European Council.

    He also noted that the government was closely watching the situation and ready to intervene if necessary, while adding that Greece was in a better position than most European countries and that Greek banks were not exposed to "toxic" products, though the country was affected by the broader repercussions of the international credit crisis.

    Karamanlis also underlined that the measures to support the Greek financial system would not increase the burden on tax-payers and that Greeks should not expect to see any new tax-raising measures, while noting that the reforms already passed would broaden the tax base while not increasing the tax burden on low and middle incomes.

    Regarding the decisions taken by the 27 EU leaders, the Greek premier said these aimed to restore confidence in the financial system through a series of measures, such as an early warning mechanism, regular meetings of national regulatory bodies on a monthly basis and EU initiatives in collaboration with the Community's international partners to reform the finance system.

    Finmin: EU leaders broadly agree with Eurogroup measures

    On his part, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said that a set of Euro zone group proposals to deal with the credit crisis are generally supported by the rest of the EU.

    Nevertheless, he noted that some countries, such as the Czech Republic, expressed a different approach to the problem.

    In response to widespread speculation over modifications to the revised Stability Pact, Alogoskoufis said nothing changes, since the Pact itself foresees "flexibility" in "extraordinary circumstances", similar to the ones observed today.

    Turning to the government's set of measures to safeguard the domestic banking system, the Greek FinMin again cited a 15-billion-euro guarantee for all financial institutions, a measure aimed at keeping the cost of borrowing under control.

    Additionally, he cited the issuance of special bonds by financial institutions to the tune of eight billion euros, with the state, in turn, receiving satisfactory bank guarantees for these bonds. He also cited expanded capitalisation of banks by five billion euros.

    Within this framework, the state will purchase preferred bank shares.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Vote on PASOK's Vatopedi motion on Oct. 24

    A motion by main opposition PASOK for an ad hoc Parliamentary preliminary examination committee to investigate ministerial responsibility for the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange deals is to be discussed by Parliament next week on Friday, on October 24.

    This was announced on Thursday by Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, said the decision was reached by a meeting of Parliament's presidency in which PASOK's representatives had asked that their party's motion be discussed during a separate morning session on the same day as a motion tabled by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for an investigation committee on the same issue, which is to take place on October 22.

    PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday tabled a motion signed by 101 PASOK MPs for a Parliamentary preliminary examination committee to investigate possible criminal liability in the affair by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and former ruling New Democracy ministers Petros Doukas and Evangelos Bassiakos.

    Karamanlis had earlier tabled a motion for a special Parliamentary investigation committee to look into the land exchange deals, in which prime pieces of public real estate were exchanged with land of marginal value on the shores of Lake Vistonida, leaving the state deeply out of pocket.

    In addition to Roussopoulos, PASOK accused former finance minister Petros Doukas and former agricultural development minister Bassiakos of criminal breach of faith against the public sector.

    Specifically, the charges are related to decisions issued by Doukas in 2004, in which he accepted the recommendations of an advisory body for state real estate and tradeable property as well as a report issued by the Legal Council of State, through which the state sector essentially dropped a suit against the Vatopedi Monastery over a property case that was being tried before a Rodopi court.

    The charge against Bassiakos relates to his signature in 2005 of a decision that put the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation in charge of exchanging pieces of state property with the monastery's stake in lands in and around Lake Vistonida, while both ministers are held liable for a joint decision in 2006 that again placed Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation in charge of the land exchange process.

    PASOK said that Roussopoulos should be investigated as the moral instigator of the above offences and that the inquiry should also extend to the possible participation of other persons as accomplices or participants.

    PASOK MPs stressed the urgency of launching such an inquiry, noting that "high chance" that the present Parliament would be dissolved and that acts committed under the previous government would then automatically escape prosecution under the law.

    Attached to PASOK's motion was the letter of resignation given to their superiors on Tuesday by the two appeals court prosecutors investigating the Vatopedi case, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, in which they cite finding evidence implicating members of the government and pressures from their superiors not to refer the case to Parliament as one of the reasons for their decision to resign.

    The PASOK motion will be discussed by Parliament's plenum and then put to a secret ballot, in which the persons against whom the proposal is directed have no right to vote. Setting up such an ad hoc preliminary examination committee requires an absolute Parliamentary majority of 151 votes or more.

    If Parliament rejects the motion, however, no new proposal to press charges based on the same actual events can be tabled, which means PASOK must secure the support of both other opposition parties and some members of the governing majority that has 152 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    [03] Greek cooperative banks report improved 9-month results

    Greek Cooperative Banks on Thursday reported a 25-percent increase in their nine-month assets to 3.827 billion euros, compared with the corresponding period last year.

    Presenting the results, Nikolaos Myrtakis, president of the Association of Cooperative Banks of Greece, said loans grew 30 percent to 2.963 billion euros in the January-September period, up from 2.280 billion euros last year, while savings grew 22 pct to 3.061 billion euros, from 2.521 billion over the same period, respectively.

    Equity capital grew 32 pct to 510.4 million euros, while cooperative banks raised the number of their members to 194,070 in the nine-month period this year, from 184,105 last year.

    Pre-tax profits totaled 48.9 million euros, up from 44.1 million in 2007.

    Panhellenic Bank, the central bank of Cooperative Banks in Greece, said assets rose 23 pct to 991 million euros, loans were up by 28 pct to 715 million euros and savings grew 22 pct to 855 million euros. Pre-tax profits rose 15 pct to 6.1 million euros.

    [04] National Bank head: Banking system changing radically

    The domestic banking system has resisted pressures from the international credit crisis and remains healthy, although competition rules are radically changing, ending a long period that began with the deregulation of consumer credit and the sharp growth of housing credit, National Bank chairman and chief executive Takis Arapoglou said on Thursday.

    At the same time, he pointed to the possibility of "synergies" in the Greek banking system to deal with the indirect impact of the crisis remains.

    Arapoglou noted that raising market shares in retail banking (private and small- and medium-sized enterprises) will no longer be the focus of competition that shifted to loan portfolio quality, strong capital adequacy and strong liquidity.

    "Cutting operating costs will also become a vital factor in the financial sector around the world, to sustain profitability", Arapoglou said, noting that synergies through mergers and acquisitions could lead to this result.

    National Bank's chief executive said he does not worry over a possible increase of non-performing loans because of the higher cost of money.

    "There is no such sign in National Bank," he stressed, reiterated that loan applications are evaluated with stricter criteria, although this did not mean that the bank was limiting funding to its private customers.

    Arapoglou said he was also not concerned over the bank's presence in Southeastern Europe and noted that National Bank's strong presence in Turkey was based on Finansbank's strong saving deposits levels.

    Finally, he said National Bank not only will remain healthy after the end of the crisis, but it could end up with more benefits taking advantage of any opportunities arose.

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