|Wednesday, 13 December 2017|
Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 12-12-15
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM heads meetings on attracting investments, boosting jobsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras had a series of meetings with close aides on Saturday, in order to discuss the government's strategy after the Eurogroup's decision to disburse financial aid to Greece.
Sources said that the prime minister's top priority is to attract foreign investments and persuade companies already present in Greece to further expand their activities, so that there is an influx of foreign capital that will boost liquidity and reduce unemployment.
Toward this end, Samaras will receive representatives of 16 major multinationals on Monday morning to discuss ways in which they can further expand their activities in the country. The meeting will be attended by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis.
On Tuesday, the premier will have a meeting with the leaders of the two parties supporting the coalition government, PASOK and Democratic Left, and on Wednesday he will be keynote speaker at the official opening of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation's representation at the Acropolis Museum.
In statements as he emerged from a European Union summit on Friday, the premier had signalled that his government was already rolling up its sleeves and getting down to work since "for me and the government, the day after has already begun". He indicated that his top priority would be action to help create new jobs.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras: 'Each day we are better prepared'AMNA -- Main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Saturday stressed that SYRIZA-EKM was daily preparing itself to lead a 'people's government', in statements at the first session of the party's Central Committee.
"Each day that passes we are better prepared and more mature to take on the responsibility of the governance of the country," the head of SYRIZA's Parliamentary group said, adding that everything would be decided by next March.
"Either the people and the country will collapse or the coalition of collapse will leave," he said, predicting that 2013 would be the year when SYRIZA-EKM would be elected to power.
He went on to attack Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, saying that the Eurogroup's decision to release financial aid to Greece was "self-evident" but delayed by six months and would usher in the year of "the most brutal austerity". He also suggested that a debt buyback programme had missed its targets.
"People have realised that Samaras is not the 'Santa Claus' of growth, as he likes to present himself, but the average Greek family's Herod that imposes a tax penalty on children," he added.
Immediately after his speech to the Central Committee, Tsipras departed for an official visit to Brazil and Argentina at the head of a party delegation. The meeting began with the official formation of the Central Committee of 317 members and will continue with the election of a 37-member secretariat.
Responding to Tsipras' criticism, goverment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that the main opposition leader had given a "parting performance for the drachma lobby before departing to spend Christmas in Latin America".
"Turning white into black, he tried to discount the end of the scenarios of an exit from the euro. We understand his frustration," Kedikoglou said.
 Migrant boat capsizes off Lesvos; death toll rises to 20AMNA --- Dozens have been killed after a boat carrying illegal migrants capsized in waters off the the Greek island of Lesvos. The bodies of 20 people, aged between 20 and 45 years old, have so far been recovered from the sea off the coast of Thermi to the east of the island, authorities reported on Saturday.
The last two bodies washed up on the shore at Agios Georgios in Thermi and were found shortly after 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The first indication of the shipwreck was discovered when a coast guard vessel found a 20-year-old man suffering from hypothermic shock in the water about one nautical mile off Thermi on Friday afternoon. The man was taken to Mytilene Hospital on the island and reported that a plastic-hulled boat carrying 28 people, including a Turkish migrant-trafficker, had set off from the coast of Turkey in the early hours of Friday morning heading for Lesvos.
About half way into the journey, the boat had capsized due to overloading.
The coast guard, assisted by FRONTEX forces, has been combing the waters in the area since Friday but has so far found only dead bodies. Search-and-rescue workers give a very low probability of finding survivors due to the extremely low temperatures and rough weather conditions prevailing in the area and their prediction has so far been confirmed by the results of the search.
 Finmin: Eurogroup 'only a first step', more tax measures in 2013AMNA -- The Eurogroup's decision to disburse financial aid to Greece was only the first step down a road that remains "long and steep," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told a conference on health policy that ended in Athens on Saturday. He emphasised that the country must now implement a raft of reforms recently passed by Parliament and announced that a new "heavy-duty" tax reform is pending in the next few months.
"The [decision] puts an end to ongoing scenarios of a Greek default and the country's exit from the euro and creates the conditions for sustainable growth and higher employment. Of course what we achieved is very important but it is only a first step.....The road remains long and steep," Stournaras said.
The finance minister stressed that in order to ensure a final exit from the 'danger zone' of default and euro exit, Greece must now actively carry out a two-year fiscal adjustment programme calling for spending cuts of 10.5 billion euro and an extra 3.0 billion euro in revenues, as well as structural reforms to improve competitiveness.
"By next May we must table the 'heavy-duty' taxation plan that will tackle the long-term problems of tax administration, tax evasion and tax fairness and ensure its immediate implementation. The criticism I am subjected to all this time at the Eurogroup has to do with tax evasion in our country," Stournaras emphasised.
The finance minister said that the reform would "serve the basic principle that we all have an obligation to contribute to the country's salvation, according to our means," while pointing out that one in two of Greece's self-employed had declared annual incomes less than 5,000 euro in 2011, indicating that the tax burden was unfairly skewed against wage earners.
Regarding banks, Stournaras noted that the Eurogroup decision would ensure their recapitalisation and help make them viable on a permanent basis, improving the banking system's credibility and capital adequacy and gradually allowing banks to resume handing out loans to businesses.
He also emphasised the government's determination to speed up the rate of privatisations and attract foreign investments, noting that the main benefit from the privatisations would not be the revenue they generated to pay down debt but the effect of the resulting investments on the real economy.
Finally, the minister stressed that the country had reached its limits in terms of unemployment, especially among the young, and could not take any more.
"The percentages must be reversed in the coming period. The central goal of our policies is to increase employment," he said, adding that work was more than just a factor of production but about "people's lives, their hopes and aims".
Stournaras was addressing the 8th Panhellenic Health Conference on Management, Economics and Health Policy discussing the theme "Economy and health in crisis: Deadlocks and Excesses" that began in Athens last Thursday.
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