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Athens News Agency: News in English, 12-03-07
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Six energy investment projects approvedAMNA--The inter-ministerial Strategic Investments Commission on Tuesday approved a plan to include six new large investments, worth 5.6 billion euros, in a fast-track procedure programme. These investments were expected to have a very positive impact on the country’s energy balance, as the projects were expected to add 2,900 MW from renewable energy sources projects.
The Commission meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, approved the six investment plans and agreed to resolve bureaucratic issues through fast-track procedures envisaged by Greek legislation, with the help of Invest in Greece.amna
Commenting on the six new investment plans, Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, said: “The benefits for the country from these investments will be multiple, both for local societies and the country in general, from new job positions which will be created, the development of renewable energy sources and economic growth in general”.
The investment projects are:
-Investment in the mining sector to exploit a gold reserve field in the prefecture of Evros by Thrace Goldmines (budgeted at 129 million euros).
-Development of windpower parks, with a power capacity of 1,005 MW in Crete by Elica Group (budgeted at 1.99 billion euros).
-Building a solar power station, 70 MW in Lasithi, eastern Crete, by Solar Power Plant Lassithi Ltd (budgeted at 268 million euros).amna
-Building 12 photovoltaic power parks, 166 MW in central and western Greece by Spes Solaris-Solar Concept SA (budgeted at 332.284 million euros).
-Pump/reserve energy systems, 587 MW, in the Kastraki lake in western Greece by Terna Energy (budgeted at 501,830,000 euros).
-Windpower station, 1,077 MW in Crete, by Terna Energy (budgeted at 2.46 billion euros).amna
 Mini gov't reshuffle announced on Tues.AMNA / Athens University Professor George Bambiniotis was appointed as education minister, replacing Anna Diamantopoulou, who moves to the development ministry, in a mini government reshuffle announced late Tuesday night.
Mihalis Chryssohoidis, until now development minister, replaces Christos Papoutsis, who resigned last week from the post of citizen's protection minister.
Eleftherios Economou, previous the head of Greek Police (EL.AS), was appointed as the citizen's protection deputy minister.
 PDO identification for Halkidiki green olivesAMNA--The 'Halkidiki Green Olive' brand name, referring to the variety of green olives produced in the region of Halkidiki, northern Greece, will soon be registered in the EU as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product thus acquiring a high added value, it was announced on Tuesday. The EU quality schemes identify products and foodstuffs farmed and produced to exacting specifications.
The PDO identification process for the green olives produced in Halkidiki was temporarily delayed following objections raised by producers in Belgium and Canada in an effort to protect their own interests.
 Witness examined for alleged inflation of 2009 state deficitAMNA--ELSTAT board chairman Andreas Georgiou was on Tuesday the first witness in a Parliamentary investigation into allegations that Greece's independent statistical authority had artificially inflated the public deficit for 2009.
In his testimony before a Parliamentary examination committee, Georgiou defended his actions as head of the authority and said that he had faithfully applied the rules followed by all EU statistical authorities supplying figures to Eurostat, without coming under any pressure or political intervention.amna
He repeated that credibility issues due to the flawed statistics generated by Greece were corrected under his leadership, following 10 visits by members of Eurostat to provide clarifications. He also repeated accusations that his work had been undermined by other members of ELSTAT's board and that his e-mails had been spied on.
Georgiou did not, however, deny authorship of an e-mail sent to the head of the EU-IMF troika mission in Greece Poul Thomsen, which was revealed to the committee by independent MP Panagiotis Kouroublis. amna
In this, Georgiou asked Thomsen to intervene in order to change laws governing ELSTAT's operation and to clarify "the powers of the chairman and board members given the continuous misinterpretation of the existing law by specific members of the authority." amna
The Parliamentary committee had also called Georgiou's predecessor Manolis Kontopyrakis to testify but the latter did not appear, claiming reasons of poor health. The head of the Parliament committee Christos Protopapas advised Kontopyrakis' lawyer that his client's must come forward to testify, by force if necessary, since he was a key witness in the case and Kontopyrakis later replied that he would appear before the committee next Tuesday.
The committee has also sent letters to Joaquin Almunia, who was EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner in 2009, and the head of Eurostat, asking them to testify.
The investigation was launched following allegations made to the press by former ELSTAT board member Zoi Georganta, who said that the country's public deficit for 2009 had been deliberately and artificially inflated in an attempt to pave the way for harsh austerity measures. amna
Greece's 2009 deficit was revised upward in November 2010, from 13.6 percent of GDP to 15.4 percent of GDP, making it the worst fiscal deficit in Europe. Georganta told Greek media that this was achieved by including the spending of several utilities under general government data, under German pressure.
Georganta went public with her allegations after ELSTAT's entire board, with the exception of Georgiou, were summarily dismissed by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in September 2011. www.amna.gr
 Reps of 6 biggest Greek banks meet FinMin for PSI talksAMNA--The administrations of the six biggest Greek banks (National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, Hellenic Postbank and ATEbank) met with government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday. amna
According to an announcement by the ministry, the bank representatives briefed Venizelos that either they have already decided or will propose to their boards on Wednesday and Thursday the full voluntary acceptance of the Greek state's offer regarding the PSI.
 Pension funds to suffer 53pct haircut in bond portfoliosAMNA / Greek pension funds will see their Greek bond holdings’ value be reduced by 53 pct, in line with a haircut agreed between the Greek state and private bondholders.
The issue was discussed during a meeting chaired by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos with Labor and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumakis and the governors of pension funds. Greek pension funds own state bonds worth 21 billion euros, with pension funds purchases totaling 7.0 billion euros, while the remaining 14 billion euros were deposits with the Bank of Greece which were later invested in state bonds. Ministry officials said that pension funds which would use state bonds as collateral for their borrowing from commercial banks (in the form of repos) will see their bonds nominal value fall to 25 pct. amna
A memorandum, recently ratified by Parliament, envisages that pension funds could use a mix of state property assets, shares, deposits and other sources to recover any losses suffered by their bond portfolios.
 Greek GDP shrinks by 7.0% in Q4 2011BRUSSELS (AMNA / V. Demiris) -- The Greek economy shrank by 7.0 pct in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with the corresponding period in 2010, Eurostat announced on Tuesday.
The EU executive’s statistics agency, in a report published here, said the Eurozone economy grew by 0.7 pct in the same period, while the EU-27 economy grew by 0.9 pct in the October-December period last year. Portugal (-2.7 pct), Slovenia (-1.5 pct), Holland (-0.7 pct), Italy and Cyprus (-0.5 pct each) also recorded a shrinking Gross Domestic Product in the fourth quarter. amna
On the other hand, Lithuania (5.4 pct), Latvia (5.3 pct) and Poland (4.3 pct) recorded the biggest percentage GDP growth rates in the October-December period.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
The Cabinet mini reshuffle and the negotiations for the maximum possible participation in the PSI as well as the medicine shortages in pharmacies, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Municipalities sinking in debts!".
AVGHI: "Wedge in intermediaries' ring".
DIMOKRATIA: "Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos' and former president of ESYE (Hellenic Statistical Service, now the Independent Hellenic Statistical Authority-ELSTAT) Andreas Georgiou's bomb exploded".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Scam with PPC surtax (extraordinary surtax on real estate collected via PPC electricity bills)".
ESTIA: "Taxes dissolved the economy".
ETHNOS: "Dangerous games with medicines".
IMERISSIA: "Initial 'yes' to the PSI".
KATHIMERINI: "Change of leadership in three ministries".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Green energy investments of 5.5 billion euros via 'fast track' procedures".
NIKI: "High interest rates and amnesty for those who will bring their money back to Greece".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Action on Wednesday for the unemployed at the National Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) offices throughout the country".
TA NEA: "Last battles outside the 'barbershop'."
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