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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-06-24

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] OECD sees Greek GDP shrinking in '09
  • [02] Papoulias begins Syria visit
  • [03] Gov't unveils OSE reforms
  • [04] Current accounts deficit shrinks
  • [05] Stocks end 1.47 pct higher

  • [01] OECD sees Greek GDP shrinking in '09

    The Greek economy is expected to shrink by 1.3 percent this year and grow by 0.3 pct in 2010, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in its six-month "Economic Outlook" report on the Greek economy.

    The Paris-based orgranisation also projected that Greek inflation will total 1.3 pct this year, rising slightly to 1.7 pct in 2010, while the country's fiscal deficit would total 6.1 pct of GDP in 2009, and 6.7 pct of GDP in 2010.

    [02] Papoulias begins Syria visit

    DAMASCUS (ANA-MPA) -- Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday began an official three-day visit to Syria, where he was received by Syrian leader Bashar al-Asad at the presidential mansion here.

    "Real peace cannot exist in the region if all the sides do not respect and accept UN Security Council resolutions, and if the Golan Heights are not returned to Syria," Papoulias, a former Greek foreign minister, said.

    He made the statement after a half-hour meeting with al-Asad.

    Papoulias added that "we consider dialogue based on US resolution, and not on the imposition of raw violence and recognition of faits accomplis, as an inviolable principle for resolving differences."

    On his part, the Syrian president noted that "we ascertained the need for strengthening international efforts in order to stop the woes of the Palestinians and for an increased effort for national reconciliation in Iraq."

    The Syrian president also said that the Middle East peace process was discussed, where he cited an identity of views regarding the need for achieving peace based on international legality, "one that confirms the non-continuation of the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, with first of all the Golan Heights."

    Referring to Greek-Syrian relations, Papoulias both countries must work to better develop economic, trade, tourism and cultural cooperation, while noting that political relations are solid. Moreover, he said Athens consistently supports the signing of an EU-Syria Association Agreement.

    Papoulias is accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis and a business delegation.

    On Wednesday afternoon the Greek head of state was scheduled to visit the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, where he will be received by Patriarch Ignatius IV.

    In the evening, Papoulias will attend a reception hosted by Syrian leader al-Asad in his honour.

    [03] Gov't unveils OSE reforms

    The government on Wednesday unveiled a restructuring and development plan for Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), pointing to one of the most important reforms promoted by the government, given the monumental losses reported annually by the state-run organisation.

    Presenting the plan, Transport and Communications Minister Euripides Stylianidis said OSE was the "biggest loss-making public sector enterprise in Europe", with annual losses of around 1.0 billion euros and an accumulated deficit of around nine billion euros. The minister said the reforms would positively affect the country's economy and its growth course and noted that if urgent measures were not taken, OSE's deficit could surpass 11 billion euros by 2011.

    The restructuring plan envisages the corporate transformation of OSE and the creation of three new companies: OSE, managing the organisation's real estate assets; Trainose, offering railway services, and Ergose, operating infrastructure and network works.

    Stylianidis said the plan did not include voluntary retirement schemes but rather it adopts a programme of "paid reserves", which could result in savings of around 315 million euros over a 10-year period.

    The plan would cover 3,000 employees aged 48 to 54 years old.

    The Greek minister said Hellenic Railways serviced 16.5 million passengers a year, of which 8.5 million use the Proastiakos high-speed rail lines servicing the greater Athens area, with revenues covering only 38 pct of expenses.

    Under the plan, Hellenic Railways will raise fares by 100 pct by 2011, starting with a 33-pct increase from August with the aim of raising railway fares at 80 pct of intercity bus fare levels. No fare increases will be made by the Proastiakos service. The higher rates are expected to add 5.4 million euros to coffers this year, by 22.75 million euros in 2010 and 39 million euros in 2011, while operating costs were projected to fall by 21 pct this year, 52 pct in 2010 and 2011.

    Stylianidis said OSE, in cooperation with economy ministry, will work towards a more efficient management of the organisation's real estate assets, worth 14.3 billion euros and predicted that Trainīse could return to profitability as early as 2012.

    [04] Current accounts deficit shrinks

    Greece's current accounts balance showed signs of improvement in the first four months of 2009, with the current accounts deficit shrinking by 20 pct compared with the corresponding period last year, down to 10.3 billion euros, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.

    The central bank attributed this development to a significant decline in the trade deficit, while the services and current transfers surpluses eased and the incomes deficit widened in the January-April period.

    The trade deficit declined by 4.3 billion euros in the four-month period, reflecting a 2.3 billion euros decline in the trade deficit of goods, an 1.4 billion euros fall in net payments for fuel imports and a decline of 510 million euros for net payments for ship purchases. Excluding ships and fuels, import payments fell by 2.9 billion euros, or by 22.2 pct, in the four-month period.

    The services' surplus fell by 919 million euros, while the tourist foreign exchange dropped by 11.6 pct to 878 million euros, from 995 million euros last year. The incomes' deficit rose by 279 million euros, reflecting higher net payments for interest, dividends and earnings.

    The current transfers surplus fell by 592 million euros, with the capital transfers balance showing a surplus of 814 million euros, down from 1.8 billion euros in the same period in 2008.

    Direct investments recorded a net inflow of 967.1 million euros, while the portfolio investment category recorded a net inflow of 8.0 billion euros. The other investments category recorded a net inflow of 1.0 billion euros.

    [05] Stocks end 1.47 pct higher

    Greek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following a recovery in international markets. The composite index rose 1.47 pct to end at 2,199.11 points, with turnover a low 134.9 million euros, of which 5.1 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the exception of the Media sector which ended 1.46 pct down. Industrial Products (5.04 pct), Raw Materials (4.75 pct) and Constructions (3.45 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 1.24 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.14 pct up and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.89 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 152 to 66 with another 49 issues unchanged.


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