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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-10

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Compensation for riot-stricken businesses
  • [02] EU Commission to probe Cassandra mines sale in 2003
  • [03] Chamber: 50 mln euros in damages
  • [04] Figures on wholesale, ind'l production

  • [01] Compensation for riot-stricken businesses

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday announced a series of seven measures to support businesses hit by a four-day spree of non-stop rioting in Athens and other Greek cities, stressing that the extensive damage was the result of "destructive fury and raw violence by extremist groups."

    "The rioters, through their actions, have once again proved that their only inspiration is destruction. That their target has always been social tranquillity, legality and Democracy itself. For this reason they are isolated," the prime minister said.

    He underlined the government's determination to assist the victims of the violence, for the most part small and medium-sized enterprises that were already reeling from the impact of the global economic slowdown.

    "We will not only entrench a feeling of security for all citizens but help all businesses that have suffered damages. Help them stand on their feet. Keep their staff. Work without problems during the upcoming holiday season," Karamanlis said.

    The measures announced by the prime minister included an immediate relief payment of 10,000 euros for SMEs, a state grant of 50 percent of certified damages between 10,000 and 200,000 euros and subsidised 15-year loans for the remaining 50 percent of certified damage that will be guaranteed by the state and will also be available to firms that do not belong to the above two categories.

    In addition to the above, he said that the government would arrange for 15-year loans on favourable terms to restore damaged buildings, five-year loans on favourable terms for working capital, a three-month suspension for stricken businesses of their outstanding debts to tax offices, social insurance funds and banks, in addition to other tax relief measures, and the payment of salaries, Christmas bonus payments and social insurance contributions for the employees of all businesses unable to operate until December 20.

    Karamanlis said that red tape for those seeking compensation would be kept to a bare minimum, while the applications would involve few supporting documents and have to go through a three-member committee made up of a member of the local chamber of commerce, the local merchants' association and the economy and finance ministry.

    The prime minister stressed that the government was responding to the challenges of the times and the "cries and whispers of demagogues and populism" with acts of "responsibility and real substance" producing tangible results.

    "We walk the path of national responsibility. We call all the political forces of the country to walk alongside us, all social bodies, all citizens," he said, concluding his statement.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emerging from a meeting on the inner cabinet on Wednesday to announce measures to support and compensate businesses damaged during the riots and demonstrations that swept Greece over the past four days, after a 15-year-old boy was shot dead by police in Exarhia.

    [02] EU Commission to probe Cassandra mines sale in 2003

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris) The European Commission on Wednesday said that it has opened an in-depth inquiry into the sale of the state-owned Cassandra Mines to the company Ellinikos Xrysos in 2003 for the sum of 11 million euros.

    The investigation into the terms of the sale was begun under EC Treaty state aid rules, namely to decide whether the sale constitutes illegal state aid, after an international minerals industry consultant estimated the market value of the mines at 408 million euros, or 35 times the price of the sale, in June 2004.

    "We have to make sure that no hidden advantage was granted to Ellinikos Xrysos at the expense of Greek taxpayers and that Greece acted like any private vendor would have when selling these public assets," said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes regarding the investigation.

    The Commission is acting on a complaint that the sale of the mines amounted to illegal state aid, received in July 2007.

    An announcement by the Commission said that it had reached a preliminary conclusion that Greece sold the Cassandra mines, which quarry gold and copper, without an open, transparent and unconditional tender for a price far below its market value. There are also questions regarding a tax waiver involved in the sales contract and a reduction of applicable legal fees in favour of Ellinikos Xrysos.

    The Commission notes that EU state aid rules require that interventions by public authorities in companies carrying out economic activities can be considered free of aid if they are made on terms that a private player operating under market conditions would have accepted (the market economy investor principle). It adds that its investigation will seek to check whether the state acted as a market economy vendor when selling the mines.

    [03] Chamber: 50 mln euros in damages

    Four days of unprecedented urban rioting sparked by a police shooting of a teenager last Saturday caused widespread destruction in downtown Athens, according to Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday, with a total of 435 businesses suffering damages of roughly 50 million euros. Some 37 businesses were completely destroyed, with owners individually reporting damages ranging from 5.5 million euros to 500 euros. Specifically, extensive damage was caused to 16 banks, two supermarkets, 40 large stores and department stores, along with 374 medium and small-sized stores, three movie cinemas and theatres. Looters mostly targeted mobile phone shops, computer stores, and stores selling clothing and footwear, electronic products, jewelry, eyewear, etc. Conclusions of the damage assessment conducted by the chamber were delivered to Economy & Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis for immediate compensation towards the businesses, something the chamber said will ensure that the 2,500 employees of the ransacked stores do not join the unemployment rolls. Caption: ANA-MPA file photo.

    [04] Figures on wholesale, ind'l production

    The wholesale turnover index rose by 13.9 percent in the third quarter of 2008 over the corresponding period in 2007, against a 5.8-percent increase in the corresponding comparison between the third quarters of 2007 over 2006, according to figures released on Wednesday by the National Statistical Service (NSS).

    NSS said the turnover index for wholesale trade in the third quarter of 2008 against the second quarter of 2008 declined by 8.4 percent, compared with a 9.3-percent reduction in the third quarter of 2007 over the second quarter of 2007.

    Also, the car and motorcycle trade, maintenance and repair turnover index and retail trade of fuels and lubricants fell by 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2008 over the corresponding quarter of 2007.

    Furthermore, the general industrial production index posted a 4.5-percent decline in October 2008 against the corresponding month in 2007, compared with a 0.3-percent increase in October 2007 against October 2006.


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