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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-07-26
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Trade balance deficit down further 21.6pct in MayGreece's trade balance deficit fell by a further 21.6 percent in May, resulting in an overall reduction of 30.9 percent in the first five months of the year (January-May 2011), according to provisional figures released on Monday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).The deficit of the Trade Balance, excluding oil products, for the 5-month period from January to May 2011 amounted to 7219.7 million euros (9983.2 million dollars) in comparison with 10452.8 million euros (14065.3 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2010, recording a drop, in euros, of 30.9%, ELSTAT said in a report.
 Moody's downgrades Greece's rating to CaMoody's on Monday
The combination of the announced EU support programme and debt exchange proposals by major financial institutions implies that private creditors will incur substantial economic losses on their holdings of government debt. The rating's developing outlook reflects the current uncertainty about the exact market value of the securities creditors will receive in the exchange, Moody's said, adding that after the debt exchanges have been completed, the rating agency will re-assess the credit risk profile of any outstanding or new securities issued by the Greek government. downgraded Greece's local- and foreign-currency bond ratings to Ca from Caa1 and assigned a developing outlook to the ratings, just one notch above a 'default' rating.
 PM and UEFA chief hold talks on cleaning up Greek footballPrime Minister George Papandreou and UEFA President Michel Platini met in Athens on Tuesday to discuss the problems plaguing Greece's soccer championship, especially in the top divisions. Afterwards, they confirmed the willingness of both sides to put an end to phenomena of violence and corruption in Greek football, Tourism and Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos said.Besides Geroulanos, also present in the meeting were Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis and Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) President Sofoklis Pilavios. Geroulanos stressed that the prime minister and the UEFA president discussed practical ways for meeting the aforementioned goals, adding that “one of them is bringing UEFA know-how to Greek football stadiums”.“Four teams of UEFA experts will be sent to Greece to offer their assistance in dealing with match-fixing, doping, violence in football stadiums and refereeing, offering necessary know-how to Greek authorities and EPO”, Geroulanos said.Speaking to reporters before his departure from Athens’ “Eleftherios Venizelos” International Airport, Platini stressed that “our goal is to help EPO put Greek football on the right track”. He also announced that UEFA experts will arrive in Greece next month to study the situation and suggest solutions. UEFA's president also announced that Pierluigi Collina (a former Italian football referee regarded as the best referee of all time) will be called in to assist Greece in improving refereeing. Government sources had said earlier that the UEFA president made no specific requests, clarifying that the meeting was not of a technical nature but held to reaffirm the willingness of both sides to cooperate in the reform of Greek football. According to the same government sources, the issue of the Greek football teams’ participation in European tournaments was not raised.
 Backing from US government, IMF for Greece's effortsWashington (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) -- Greek finance minister and government vice president Evangelos Venizelos noted the US government's and International Monetary Fund's (IMF) firm backing of Greece's efforts for fiscal consolidation and economic recovery, after meetings in Washington with top officials on Monday.
Venizelos, who was on a one-day visit to Washington, was speaking to the press after meetings with the IMF's new managing director Christine Lagarde and US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner.
He also had separate meetings with Institute of International Finance (IIF) managing director Charles Dallara and leading Congressional members Senator and chairman of the Senate standing Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Tim Johnson, and Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate's standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.
On Monday night he addressed the Peterson Institute for International Economics on "The Greek Debt Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities".
After his talks, Venizelos told reporters that the US government is sending a "clear message" to the markets.
As for the IMF, he said it has "a very positive stance", stressing at the same time that "everything depends on our own ability to implement the programme and achieve specific results".
Venizelos said he had a "very good" meeting with Geithner, adding that the US government "supports Greece's new programme and will express its support both at bilateral level and via the IMF".
"This is a very clear message to the markets, to the international community. It is an act of support of Greece and its citizens who are undergoing sacrifices in order to restructure the country," he said.
Venizelos said he had an equally interesting and lengthy working meeting with IMF chief Lagarde and her staff with discussions covering all issues.
"The IMF's stance is very positive. Of course, everything depends on us. Everything depends on our own ability to implement the programme and achieve specific results. If we apply the programme and present results, the IMF and the international community will back Greece until it restores its fiscal sovereignty and independence, until it attains the position deserving of its history and of the abilities of the Greek nation. In this respect, the meeting was particularly optimistic and supportive," he said.
 PM to brief party leaders on eurozone summit decisionsPrime minister George Papandreou will hold a series of one-on-one meetings with the opposition party leaders on Wednesday to brief them on the decisions taken at last week's extraordinary eurozone summit in Brussels.
Earlier on Wednesday, the ruling PASOK parliamentary group will convene for the same purpose, government spokesman Elias Mossialos said on private radio on Monday.
The premier will make a similar briefing to the parliament plenary on Thursday or Friday, in a "mini" off-the-agenda discussion at party leaders' level, Mossialos added.
 President: Eurozone summit decisions a step towards European integration, but delayedANA-MPA - A step towards European integration was made, but with a delay, at last Thursday's special eurozone summit, Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Sunday at the annual reception he hosted on the 37th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece after the fall of the 7-year military dictatorship in 1974.
He also spoke of the "enduring, but not in vain" struggle for "bread, education, freedom" of the anti-dictatorship movement and for the need for "those who are concealing their revenues" to pay, but also of Friday's terrorist attack in Norway.
Addressing representatives of the anti-dictatorship struggle, the President said that the country owes them a lot, noting however that their generation, although sorely tried, had a "horizon" before the.
"The same does not hold true today, though. The young generation, which grew up in conditions of relative or greater prosperity, is the first that will go through tougher times than the preceding generation. Because it carries on its backs the unbearable debt. We owe it to this new generation to doe the impossible in order to ensure that its own 'stone years' will be as few as possible," Papoulias said, adding that the demands of the anti-dictatorship struggle remain timely today: "For 'bread' in an economy that enables a dignified life to all the citizens, for 'education' in an open society with rules of meritocracy and ability of taking advantage of the creativity of its citizens, and for 'liberty' in a country that does not live on borrowed money".
On the decisions taken at Thursday's eurozone summit, Papoulias noted that "with great delay, a step was taken towards European integration, but the road is a long one", adding that the cementing of rules of economic dem
"The hour has come for those who conceal their revenues to pay, whether they are large-scale tax-dodgers with heavy accounts in banks abroad or are a part of the untaxed middle class. I do not accept that the black economy is invincible. Let us all agree that tax evasion is the most anti-social attitude, creates the conditions for breaks in the social cohesion, undermines the national future," Papoulias said, and called for reinforcement of the provisions dealing with money laundering with a lifting of the secrecy of bank accounts when assets disproportionate to the declared income is discerned.
He further stressed the need of dealing with unemployment and stamping out bureaucracy in order to attract foreign investments and develop healthy entrepreneurship so that "we will not remain at the mercy of eternal borrowing", and warned against turning the economic crisis into a crisis of politics and the institutions.
"Some seek to turn it into a crisis of democracy," the President warned, stressing that "in a state that functions with a political system with self-respect, the outcome of the battle for social justice averts the nightmarish prospect of uncontrollable social tensions".
In that context, he called on the politicians to speak more, intervene and not leave "the entire social sphere to those who speak a lot without reason or for their own purposes".
Papoulias further expressed abhorrence over Friday's terrorist attack in Norway, which "reminds us how much darkness human nature may hide and which could lead to indoctrination to hate". ANA-MPA ocracy are a national wager.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
The new list of 'heavy and hazardous' occupations, the bill on reform of the university system and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Upsets in 'heavy and hazardous' occupations list".
AVGHI: "The university Rectors on the bill: It'll kill the universities".
AVRIANI: "American-German war breaks out over the DEKO (Greek public utilities and organisations)".
ELEFTHEROS: "The occupations that are being cut from the 'heavy and hazardous' list".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ragoussis (transport minister) 'haircut' by ministers, government headquarters".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Change of life for 150,000 people in 'heavy and hazardous' occupations to be removed from the category".
ESTIA: "Need for reversal of negative climate".
ETHNOS: "What occupations will remain on the 'heavy and hazardous' list".
IMERISSIA: "Call from Tax Bureau to 900,000 debtors".
KATHIMERINI: "The exchange of bonds being accelerated".
LOGOS: "100,000 workers off the 'heavy and hazardous' occupations list".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Agreement with private sector on the debt imminent".
NIKI: "The Tax Bureau gook out its gun".
TA NEA: "Tax Bureau: Pay or go to jail".
VRADYNI: "Debtors to state to be referred to court".
 More than 1 million euro in counterfeit banknotes confiscatedTwo foreign nationals were arrested and counterfeit bills of more than one million euros were confiscated in an apartment in the Galatsi district of Athens, police announced on Saturday.
The two foreign nationals, from Rwanda and Cameroon, both 27 years of age, were arrested on Friday by Athens security police after a counterfeit 50 euros bill was found on each of them.
The two detainees led police to an apartment in Galatsi, which has been turned into a counterfeiting laboratory.
In the apartment, police found and confiscated a total of 1,115,190 euros in counterfeit banknotes of 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro denominations, and a further 40,000 dollars in counterfeit banknotes of 50 and 100 dollar denominations.
The further found and confiscated fully equipped printers, a large quantity of isometric paper cut into banknote size, eight glass containers of chemicals used for the processing of bills, cutting equipment and three cell phones.
The two detainees were due to be led later Saturday before a public prosecutor on charges of multiple counts of money forgery.
 New list of heavy, hazardous professions unveiled(ANA-MPA) -- A new list of professions classed as heavy or hazardous, which will go into effect from September 1, was submitted to Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis on Monday.
The list was drawn up by a standing committee of experts and there will follow a period of public debate that must be completed by the end of August. It will initially be implemented for 80 percent of the professions included on the list, while for the remaining professions there will be an additional period of study until the end of the year.
The labour minister stressed that the list was not final and that the ministry has already begun talks with representatives of the employees and employer groups to arrive at a result that was both scientifically correct and socially just.
Up to 100,000 to 120,000 employees will find their jobs removed from the list of heavy and hazardous professions, leaving some 400,000 to 420,000 people insured in this category. There are currently 538,234 wage earners whose jobs are classed as heavy and hazardous, of which 394,817 are men and 143,417 are women.
This number has already been significantly reduced because of large rates of unemployment among construction workers.
Ministry officials have given assurances that the EU-IMF troika has not demanded a reduction down to a specific number and that the criteria for the measure will be entirely scientific.
The committee has proposed specific criteria for deciding the inclusion of a job in this category, with a reassessment every three years. These include the degree of morbidity, mortality and life expectancy associated with each type of job.
Factors contributing to morbidity include rotating shift work, especially working night shifts, exposure to carcinogens or biological pathogens, work at very high or very low altitudes, work outdoors and exposure to high or low temperatures. It also takes into account epidemiological data concerning work-related disease, industrial accidents, work-place stress, the international bibliograpy, theoretical approaches and factual data.
Those off the list include some 60,000 administrative staff working in heavy industry, chemical and pharmaceutical firms, where all employees had previously been included in the heavy and hazardous labour category.
Also removed were street hawkers, domestic servants, those working in modelling, radio announcers, hair dressers and certain jobs in tourism and catering, in addition to certain jobs that no longer exist, such as teletypists and asbestos workers.
On the other hand, the list has been expanded to include farm and fishery workers, nursing staff in public hospitals, scientists and technicians in heavy industry or the chemical industry, metro engine drivers, sanitation workers and others.
The ministry said that employees who are struck off the list but have already amassed 12 years worth of stamps will not find their rights affected by the change. There will also be measures allowing others that don't fully meet the criteria or were only now added to the category to 'buy' more of the special category stamps and thus speed up their retirement.
Koutroumanis noted that the changes were an attempt to resolve an issue that had been outstanding for nearly 10 years, since the last revision in 2002 in a system that had been built up over 60 years without any proper regulation.
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