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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-08-06

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU-IMF on Greece's economic programme
  • [02] FinMin: No new measures
  • [03] Two injured in PPC-chartered helicopter crash
  • [04] Hot and humid on Friday
  • [05] Greece offers additional 25-bln-euro state guarantees to banks
  • [06] Parties on troika review
  • [07] Droutsas to meet Davutoglu
  • [08] OTE reports negative results

  • [01] EU-IMF on Greece's economic programme

    ANA-MPA/At the end of the first quarterly review of the Greek government's economic programme on Thursday by staff teams from the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an EC, ECB and IMF statement said the programme had made a "strong start" and that the way should now be clear for the disbursement of the next installment of the 80 billion euro loan agreed with the EU and the 30 billion euro Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF.

    EC, ECB and IMF staff teams have been in Athens since July 26.

    The full statement released was as follows:

    "Our overall assessment is that the programme has made a strong start. The end-June quantitative performance criteria have all been met, led by a vigorous implementation of the fiscal programme, and important reforms are ahead of schedule. However, important challenges and risks remain.

    The contraction in the economy is in line with May programme projections: GDP is expected to decline by 4 percent in 2010 and some 2.5 percent in 2011. Inflation is higher than expected-we have revised our estimate for 2010 to 4.75 percent-pushed up by indirect tax increases. With no signs of second-round effects, inflation is expected to decline rapidly.

    In the fiscal area, the authorities have kept spending significantly below budget limits at the state level. This has offset slippages caused by problems in controlling expenditures at the sub-national level (local governments, hospitals, social security funds), and the overall deficit target for end-June was met. Going forward, to address potential risks to fiscal targets, it is critical to tighten expenditure control and monitoring, in particular at sub-national levels. Another key challenge is to further strengthen tax administration, including to reduce tax evasion by high-income and wealthy individuals. This is essential to secure tax revenues and to promote the overall fairness of the adjustment program.

    [02] FinMin: No new measures

    ANA-MPA/Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Thursday said the country has secured all tranches of an EU/IMF loan -worth 110 billion euros. Speaking to reporters, after completion of a 10-day inspection visit by troika experts in Athens, the Greek minister said the country will dismiss all negative predictions and noted that "a first assessment of our economic program is positive, there is no new memorandum, no new measures. We will take the third tranche as well. We will take all tranches".

    Papaconstantinou said "the first round has ended", but efforts continued focusing mainly on structural reforms. He named 10 structural changes to be implemented by the end of the year: new tax administration for combating tax evasion, a new state budget, controlling spending and overspending in hospitals and health costs, changes in civil administration and regional authorities, opening up markets and closed professions (lawyers, engineers, architects, pharmacies, accountants, etc), restructuring Hellenic Railways and public sector enterprises, promoting privatizations, better management of the state's real estate, changes in the banking system, a new business environment and strengthening the competitiveness and inspection of prices.

    Based on a timetable, the troika will release in early September an updated technical report on the Greek economy. In September 10, the IMF's board will meet to approve the release of the fund's participation in the second tranche of the loan. A similar decision is expected by an ECOFIN meeting in September 7. The second tranche, worth 9.0 billion euros, will be released September 13-15. The next official assessment of the Greek economy will be held by the end of October.

    [03] Two injured in PPC-chartered helicopter crash

    ANA-MPA/Two people were injured in a crash shortly after noon on Thursday involving a private helicopter chartered by the Public Power Corporation (PPC) to clean high-voltage pylon cables just outside the city of Rethymno on the island of Crete.

    The helicopter crashed in the area of Kastelakia, 2.5 kilometers outside the city, and the two men on board were initally rushed to Rethymno hospital, along with the owner of the helicopter who suffered a heart attack when he witnessed the crash.

    The 36-year-old pilot, whose injuries were more serious, was later transferred to the larger Iraklio University General Hospital.

    The second man in the helicopter, the 35-year-old operator of the water-cannon used to clean the cables, is still being treated at Rethymno hospital, along with the owner who doctors say is not in any danger.

    According to initial reports, the accident occurred as the helicopter was attempting to land in order to restock water. During the landing, for reasons as yet unknown, it touched the power cables and dropped from a height of 15 metres to the ground

    [04] Hot and humid on Friday

    Sunny and humid weather is forecast on Friday with mists in coastal regions. Winds variable, ranging from 2 to 4 Beaufort. Temperatures between 18C and 37C. Sunny in Attica with temperatures from 24C to 37C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 23C to 34C.

    [05] Greece offers additional 25-bln-euro state guarantees to banks

    ANA-MPA/Greek Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou on Thursday said the country has secured all tranches of an EU/IMF loan -worth 110 billion euros. Speaking to reporters, after completion of a 10-day inspection visit by troika experts in Athens, the Greek minister said the country will dismiss all negative predictions and noted that "a first assessment of our economic program is positive, there is no new memorandum, no new measures. We will take the third tranche as well. We will take all tranches".

    Papakonstantinou said "the first round has ended", but efforts continued focusing mainly on structural reforms. He named 10 structural changes to be implemented by the end of the year: new tax administration for combating tax evasion, a new state budget, controlling spending and overspending in hospitals and health costs, changes in civil administration and regional authorities, opening up markets and closed professions (lawyers, engineers, architects, pharmacies, accountants, etc), restructuring Hellenic Railways and public sector enterprises, promoting privatizations, better management of the state's real estate, changes in the banking system, a new business environment and strengthening the competitiveness and inspection of prices.

    [06] Parties on troika review

    ANA-MPA/ "The troika review is no cause for jubilation," main opposition New Democracy (ND) economy sector head MP Christos Staikouras stated on Thursday.

    Referring to the first quarterly review of the Greek government‚s economic programme by staff teams of the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the ND official stressed that based on available figures "the sacrifices made by the Greek people are going to waste."

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday accused the government of "shamelessly lying by maintaining that it will not impose new anti-popular measures," adding that "no day goes by without launching new attacks on the workers‚ income and rights."

    Commenting on the statements made by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and the troika (EC, ECB, IMF) staff teams in Greece, the KKE accused the government of "being provocative by announcing a new support package of 25 billion euros for the banks."

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) spokesman Kostis Aivaliotis stated that "the troika suggested what is common sense, namely, spending cuts in all sectors."

    Opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) stated that the finance minister "tried unsuccessfully to sweeten the bitter taste left by the statements of the troika representatives as regards the course of the Greek economy."

    [07] Droutsas to meet Davutoglu

    ANA-MPA/Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes on Friday.

    Droutsas will host a private lunch for the Turkish minister and his family. The meeting had been arranged earlier on Thursday in a telephone conversation by the two ministers.

    [08] OTE reports negative results

    ANA-MPA/An economic crisis hitting Greece affected Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) earnings in the second quarter of 2010, with turnover falling 8.3 pct to 1.358 billion euros, while net results showed a loss of 60.8 million euros from a profit of 6.4 million euros in 2009, burdened by an extra tax charge imposed by the government.

    OTE said basic earnings per share dropped 98.2 pct in the April-June period, compared with the same period in 2009, affected by adverse economic conditions, increased competition and higher taxes.

    Fixed-telephony operations, mainly in Greece and Romania, reported declines of 7.2 pct and 11.1 pct, respectively in the second quarter, with domestic operations losing more than 134,00 PSTN and ISDN lines.

    Mobile telephony operations reported a decline of 8.2 pct in the second quarter, with Cosmote down 10 pct to 446 million euros, in Albania down 14.6 pct, in Bulgaria down 9.0 pct and Romania up 6.3 pct. Mobile telephony customers rose 4.5 pct to around 21.6 million euros.


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