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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-11

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Inner Cabinet on draft legislation
  • [02] Greek exports down 20.9 pct in January
  • [03] Development ministry measures boosting entrepreneurship, market
  • [04] Econ. grew by 2.8 pct in 2008

  • [01] Inner Cabinet on draft legislation

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday chaired an Inner Cabinet meeting that discussed two development ministry draft laws regarding the Competition Commission and collection agencies.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said that the so-called collection agencies, which would be renamed "debtor information companies", would not collect monies but would simply inform consumers on their overdue debts, in adherence to specific rules of ethics. Thus, he added, order would be put in that sector, stressing that the government had "heard the voice of society and the mass media" and responded immediately by proceeding to a legislative regulation of the issue.

    Henceforth, he said, those companies would respect the dignity of the consumer and citizen, and added that the bill would be tabled in parliament by Friday at the latest.

    Hatzidakis also said that a first exchange of views had taken place during the meeting on the new bill concerning the Competition Commission.

    The minister noted that the term of the current Competition Commission was expiring, adding that the government didn't want to just appoint a new Commission comprising highly-esteemed individuals but also to apply in Greece specific EU rules that would enable the Commission to function quickly and effectively.

    He said that no longer would delays be tolerated in the Commission's work, in other words such phenomena as 4-6 year delays in the hearings of complaints.

    Hatzidakis further noted that, after the new law was passed, anyone involved with cartels would have "much more to fear".

    The minister said that the Competition Commission, in the last four years, has imposed fines that were 30 to 40 times higher in relation to the four-year term under the preceding PASOK government, adding that the ND government was determined to encourage the Commission even more in carrying out its duty.

    Asked whether the fines imposed by the Commission are actually collected, Hatzidakis said that a very large proportion were collected, noting that the Competition Commission operated as a first-level body, where a proportion of the fines were submitted immediately, after which the fined companies could take recourse in administrative courts.

    According to statistics, the minister continued, an increasing number of Competition Commission rulings were being upheld by the administrative courts.

    To another question on the high interest rates charged by banks, Hatzidakis said that the government has sent a clear-cut message, adding that it would be even more decisive if required, because the interests of the Greek citizens took precedence over everything else.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of an Inner Cabinet meeting

    [02] Greek exports down 20.9 pct in January

    Greek exports dropped by 20.9 pct in January, while imports were down 29.2 pct in the same month, the National Statistical Service said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service said the value of import-arrivals in January totaled 3.290 billion euros, from 4.647 billion euros in the same month in 2008, while the value of export-deliveries totaled 955 million euros, from 1.208 billion euros last year.

    Greek exports, however, rose 0.1 pct in the 12-month period from February 2008-January 2009 compared with the same period in the previous year, while imports rose 6.0 pct over the same period.

    [03] Development ministry measures boosting entrepreneurship, market

    Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis addressing a ministry organized event on Wednesday held within the framework of the World Consumer Day celebrated on March 14.

    ?We support entrepreneurship but we will be relentless toward those who undermine the market,? he stressed, pointing out that the draft law on the debt collector companies will be tabled in parliament within the next two days, while the draft law on the Competition Commission will be presented shortly. Furthermore, he stated that the ministry‚s online Price Observatory is ready and a new inspection agency is currently being staffed.

    Hatzidakis stated that contacts with representatives of various sectors will continue after the meetings with the Hellenic Retail Business Association (SELPE) and the National Confederation of Hellenic Trade (ESEE) and called on businesses to display sensitivity in the current difficult economic situation. Referring to the mass media, he stated that they should rise to the occasion and not be misleading by presenting non existent price hikes.

    He reiterated that he will not hesitate to invite consumer rights organizations to engage in boycott campaigns. Hatzidakis also stated that since August price hikes have been recorded in a total of 4,000 consumer goods, while price reductions or price rise recalls have been recorded in 20,000 goods out of a total of 80,000.

    ?The excuse used by most of the entrepreneurs called to the ministry for explanations as regards unjustified price hikes is that they make up by employing a large number of people,? Deputy Development Minister George Vlachos stated, stressing that market dysfunctions will not be allowed.

    ?The problems in market operation are due to lasting dysfunctions which became obvious after the extravagant rises in the prices of raw materials that brought to light the lack of market intervention mechanisms,? he stressed.

    Consumer General Secretary Yannis Economou called on the mass media to show a responsible stance on issues of daily life, pointing out that often they create unjustified panic.

    National Confederation of Hellenic Trade (ESEE) President Dimitris Armenakis stated that unfair competition will not be tolerated and the confederation will not hesitate to suggest consumer boycott campaigns, stressing that the banks should display sensitivity.

    [04] Econ. grew by 2.8 pct in 2008

    The Greek economy grew by 2.8 pct in 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Wednesday. In its final figures, the statistics service said Gross Domestic Product (in fixed 2000 prices), seasonally adjusted, grew by 2.4 pct in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007, while it was up 0.3 pct from the third quarter of 2008.

    Gross fixed capital investments fell by 5.3 pct in the fourth quarter, with the transport equipment (-30.3 pct) recording the biggest percentage decline, followed by homes (-19.9 pct). Other constructions were up 24.8 pct. Imports of goods and services fell 5.2 pct in the October-December period, while imports were down 1.6 pct over the same period.

    Gross added value rose 3.0 pct in the fourth quarter, compared with the same period in 2007, while it fell 0.1 pct from the third quarter of 2008. Consumer spending growth was 1.0 pct in the fourth quarter.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Economy and Finance Ministry in downtown Athens


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