|Tuesday, 19 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greece submits updated Stability and Growth Programme to EUThe Greek finance ministry has submitted an updated Stability and Growth Programme for the years 2006-2009 to the European Union, which forecasts steadily rising GDP growth rates over the next three years and a reduction in primary spending as a percentage of GDP.
According to figures released by the ministry on Friday, the rate of GDP growth is seen rising to 3.9% in 2007, 4% in 2008 and 4.1% in 2009, while primary spending as a percentage of GDP is seen falling from 20.9% in 2006 to 20.3% in 2009. Public debt as a proporation of GDP is also seen gradually falling from 104.1% in 2006 to 91.3% in 2009.
Spending on wages and pensions, however, is forecast to increase 6.4% in 2007 relative to 2006, representing a rise of 1,244 million euros, and includes the 600 million euros increase in OGA farmer pensions, the 190 million euros increase in the EKAS low-pension supplement and reimbursement of the wrongly withheld LAFKA levy that comes to 110 million euros.
The public deficit in GDP terms is expected to be roughly 2.4% in 2007, dropping to 1.8% in 2008 and 1.2% in 2009.
The ministry notes that a committee has been set up to examine the long-term viability of public finances in terms of available figures for spending on pensions up to2050, and to make proposals regarding the Greek social insurance system by the autumn of 2007.
It also refers to an expected increase in revenue expected to result from government measures to tackle tax evasion and broaden the tax base.
 PASOK criticises updated Stability Programme as 'irresponsible'The updated Stability and Growth Programme for 2006-2009 submitted by New Democracy's government was just one more proof of its irresponsibility in handling the country's affairs, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) MP Vasso Papandreou said on Friday.
According to Papandreou, who is responsible for economy and finance issues on PASOK's Parliamentary Council, the Stability Programme lack a strategy for the economy and did not have clearcut goals regarding the country's role in the globalised economy.
"Developmental prospects are completely missing, while stability is only apparent," she said.
The Programme also revealed the massive increase in indirect taxes and a reduction of direct taxes, while the redistribution of incomes at the expense of the economically weaker classes had exceeded all limits, she added.
Papandreou additionally noted a reduction in investments that she said was due to the great reduction in the Public Investments Programme.
Regarding fiscal adjustment, the MP said that this was taking place only on paper since there was no references to the increased debts of hospitals, the financing of public utility social insurance funds or the postponement of several billion euros in interest payments for public debt to the future.
In addition, there was no record of defence spending, which had been a central argument in ND's decision to carry out a general government audit on coming to power.
 Karamanlis-Basiakos meetingRural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Basiakos briefed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the agricultural policy results in a meeting at Maximos Mansion on Friday.
Basiakos stated afterwards that they discussed the acceleration of procedures in the payment of subsidies and the increase of compensations received by the farmers.
Basiakos also spoke of a situation reversal concerning the farmers‚ income reduction.
He stated that the farmers‚ income recorded a 2.5 percent increase in the past two years, while during the same period of time exports rose 24 percent with a 29 percent rise in the last quarter.
The problematic situation of the past has gone for good, stated Basiakos stressing that great attention is given to the regions and every community regulation in support of the farmers is being exploited.
Basiakos also distributed a leaflet with conflicting statements made by the leader of PASOK other party officials.
 Karamanlis' scheduled meetings for SaturdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have separate meetings on Saturday morning with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Education Minister Marietta Yannakou.
 PASOK leader Papandreou visits OinofitaMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou visited Oinofita on Friday and met with Father Ioannis Economidis, who briefed him on the serious environmental problems in the wider region, under his capacity as a member of the non-governmental organization Regional Sustainable Development and Culture Foundation.
The situation in the region is grave due to the lack of environmental protection measures on behalf of the tens of industrial plants operating in the area, stressed Father Economidis, adding that dioxins are being released into the atmosphere as a result of the uncontrollable burning of toxic waste, while chimneys are not equipped with special filters preventing air and water pollution.
Such practices lead to the deterioration of the health of the local population and the approximately 10,000 workers coming in from Athens every day, he stressed, while he also referred to the systematic effort made to teach the Greek language to immigrants who make up half of the Oinofita population.
On his part, PASOK's leader stressed that the region needs infrastructure projects and the implementation of environmental protection measures promoting sustainable development and quality of life.
Papandreou also visited the local kindergarten school and attended a Christmas celebration.
 President's message to Greeks living abroadThe Greeks living abroad, being active citizens in their countries while, at the same time, maintaining unbreakable ties with Greece and having Ecumenical horizons of interests, contribute in multiple ways to the efforts aimed at allowing Hellenism to occupy the place it deserves in the new international environ-ment of the 21st century, stressed Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias in his message to the Greeks living abroad on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year‚s celebrations.
The President also underlined that the Greeks living abroad managed to become assimilated in their new countries in an exemplary fashion and under adverse conditions without forgetting their identity, serving as a bridge of cooperation between different peoples and societies.
 Archbishop of Athens warns against 'secularising' of ChristmasArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, on Friday warned against a tendency toward "secularising" Christmas and losing touch with its central meaning in his message for the holiday.
"We must not allow Christmas to be secularised. Children should not be left in ignorance, unaware of what we are celebrating," he said, noting that outside influences were seeking to replace the religious aspect and theological dimensions of the holiday.
"The world around us is in turmoil. And many would desire our people to become a 'dizzy herd'. To not react to the levelling. To accept their role as a consumer unit without spirituality, without Orthodox prospects, without historical continuity, without the ability for self-determination. And for the holidays to be diminished to seasonal opportunities to exchange social greetings and gifts," he said.
 Christmas message by Archbishop Anastasios of TiranaThe sanctity of family is underlined in the Christmas message of Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana.
The Archbishop points out that when family, the fundamental nucleus of society that shields human beings and ensures their growth, is disturbed, then individuals become deeply traumatized as personalities and social decadence follows.
Archbishop Anastasios also pointed out that the Church has to highlight the value of the human being and display a special interest in the poor and the misfortunate.
 Christmas message by Patriarch of AlexandriaCAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II in a Christmas message on Friday said that "peace and harmony is not achieved with agreements, treaties and signatures, but through their consolidation deep in the soul of all of us, through the love which is offered to us by the birth of Christ."
The Patriarch of Alexandria said he was against every form of violence, poverty and hunger and particularly wars "which not only are not condemned in practice but are justified in the name of freedom."
 National Bank: Romanian tender stalledAthens-quoted National Bank of Greece said on Friday that it had submitted an improved offer for the acquisition of 69.9% of CEC bank of Romania.
Later in the day, the Romanian government announced that it would postpone CEC's privatisation for at least two years.
The offer was given to Romania's privatisation authority shortly before the announcement.
 State firm defends recruitment of consultantState-owned Tourism Development Company (ETA) said on Friday that its award of a contract to PriceWaterhouseCoopers for financial and management support services was legal.
The company was responding to media criticism that ETA had breached European Union rules.
 Gov't defends support for 5-star hotelsThe finance ministry on Friday rejected criticism by trade groups opposing the awards of grants for investment in five-star hotels in Attica and Thessaloniki.
"As part of government policy to spur growth and employment, the utilisation of opportunities in the new investment law is required," the ministry said in a statement.
"The (EU's) regional subsidy map has been incorporated into Greek law, allowing investment support in all regions, including Attica and Thessaloniki, which are entitled to receive 30% support," the statement said.
 Deputy development minister visits central meat market in RendiDeputy Development Minister Giannis Papathanasiou on Friday paid a visit to the central meat market in Rendi at the head of a ministry delegation and held talks with meat traders and the market's management.
In statements afterward, the minister said that prices and supply were mostly at normal levels, with the exception of domestic turkeys, where prices were high because of production shortfall.
 Winter sales to begin on January 22 in GreeceThe winter sales in Greece will begin on January 22 and last for five weeks, the development ministry announced on Friday. This is in accordance with Greek law, which states that the sales should begin on the first Monday after January 20.
 Attica municipalities protest over water board debt collection measuresThe head of the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of Attica (TEDKNA) Petros Filippou on Friday sent a message to the interior, environment and finance ministers to protest against action by the Attica water board EYDAP to confiscate money owed for the municipalities' overdue bills, as well as a copy to EYDAP's management.
Filippou asked the minister to intervene and revoke the measures taken by EYDAP, which he said had blocked revenues coming into the municipalities and prevented them from carrying out their obligations during the Christmas holidays.
He also asked EYDAP to revoke huge increases in water rates for local government organisations and begin dialogue to find a solution.
According to TEDKNA's president, the debts toward EYDAP arose because of a huge 121% rate increase in 2001-2003.
 Cosmote holds 90.61% of GermanosAthens-quoted Cosmote S.A. announced on Friday that its wholly owned subsidiary, Cosmoholding Cyprus Ltd, acquired through stock exchange transactions 39,631 common registered shares in Germanos S.A.on December 21 at euro 19 per share.
Following the transactions, Cosmote's direct and indirect participation in Germanos is approximately 90.61%, management said in a statement.
The gradual transfer of almost all of Germanos' shares will end on December 29, taking Cosmote's holding to 98.99% in the wake of a public offer that was held, the statement said.
 Alpha Bank sells stake in ICAPAthens-quoted Alpha Bank, a heavily trade share on the bourse, announced the sale of its holding in ICAP S.A.,
In a statement to market authorities, Alpha said the 26.96% stake was sold to a fund managed by Global Finance.
 easyCruise to open Greek operationeasyCruise, a member of the UK-based easyGroup, said on Friday that it would launch a subsidiary in Greece.
The cruise company will begin operating in May 2007, the company said in a statement.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks dropThe Athens share index closed at 4,365.04 points, showing a decline of 0.69%. Turnover was 201.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalisation shares ended 0.52% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.58% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.21% up.
Of stocks traded, declines matched advances at 123 with 53 remaining unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.38%
Personal & Household: +0.57%
Raw Materials: +1.62%
Travel & Leisure: -0.51%
Food & Beverages: -1.89%
Financial Services: +0.06%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.94
Public Power Corp (PPC): 19.40
HBC Coca Cola: 29.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.26
Emporiki Bank: 23.76
National Bank of Greece: 34.68
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.10
Titan Cement Company: 41.50
Derivatives Market Close: Alpha Bank top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.13 pct
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.329
Pound sterling 0.676
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.060
Japanese yen 157.5
Swiss franc 1.615
Norwegian kroner 8.242
Cyprus pound 0.582
Canadian dollar 1.536
Australian dollar 1.692
 Post-quake activity in Sporades region 'normal'Post-quake activity in the sea region of the Sporades Islands, in the central Aegean, was developing "normally" after the moderate earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale that jolted the area on Thursday evening, with its epicentre 20 kilometers north of the island of Skopelos.
Approximately 100 weak aftershocks were recorded by 9am on Friday morning, according to Thessaloniki‚s Aristotelion University Geophysics Laboratory, and seismologists were reassuring that no seismic activity has been observed in neighboring faults.
‚All indications lead to the conclusion that we have a typical post-quake activity, with all the aftershocks contained in the same region. These are the initial indications and at least 24 hours have to pass before any definite conclusions can be reached‚, seismologist Manolis Skordilis told ANA-MPA.
According to Aristotelion University seismologists, a considerable number of preshocks were recorded several hours before Thursday‚s main quake.
 Twenty-six kilos hashish found abandoned by roadsideTwenty-six kilos of hashish packaged into parcels was found abandoned by the side of the road by border guards at the 15th kilometre of the Florina-Kastoria highway.
The drugs were confiscated and police are now looking for suspects that might have carried them into the area.
 Weather Forecast Temperature slightly up on SaturdaySlightly warmer weather is forecast in all parts of the country, with high northerly winds easing off from afternoon and ovenight frost on the mainland. Temperatures in Athens from 5C to 11C; and in Thessaloniki between 2C and 6C.
 Greek press reviewParliament's approval of the 2007 state budget, the dairy industry cartel and the pensions paid with counterfeit banknotes by ELTA (Hellenic Post), as well as the finance ministry amendment allowing luxury hotels to receive subsidies, were the main front-page items in Friday‚s dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "5 thousand tons of foodstuffs unfit for human consumption were seized in 2006 by the agricultural development ministry".
ANO KATO: "Karamanlis is looking at a second four-year term - His hands are untied after the good news from the economy front".
APOGEVMATINI: "Vote of confidence for a second four-year term - The 2007 State Budget was approved by parliament after an exhausting five-day debate".
AVGHI: "Pre-election balcony - Parliament: the anti-social budget gets approved - The prime minister was silent over the unlawful Polydoras in spite of being challenged by Papandreou and Alavanos".
AVRIANI: "Double blow prepared by Karamanlis - Changes to the election law, early elections in June, and in one year he will hold elections again to secure a comfortable parliamentary majority".
CHORA: "Don‚t call for elections because they could take place - Karamanlis: I am not familiar with the art of benefit-offering".
ELEFTHEROS: "Shouting and insults launched by the PASOK leader - Extremist talk - Diving deep into the past - lack of new policies - inadequate policymaking".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Election carols - Parliament: Polarization with harsh words by George Papandreou".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "All set in view of elections - Not a word by Karamanlis on Polydoras - Silence from Sioufas".
ESTIA: "Positive economic prospects - Better forecast for 2007".
ETHNOS: "The counterfeit banknotes were of blue coinage - Sicilian scheme by DAKE (ND affiliated unionists) in Fthiotida too".
KATHIMERINI: "The findings on the milk cartel - The agreement reached in Larisa in 2004 masterminded by DELTA and MEVGAL (dairy industries)".
LOGOS: "Shocking findings in a food warehouse in Drapetsona - Plethora of violations in Varvakios (Athens central meat market)".
NIKI: "The ELTA counterfeit euro banknotes - Scam targeting pensioners in Domokos - PASOK accuses 'blue' labor unionists".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Aleka Papariga: The anti-popular policy met with a substantial pounding".
TA NEA: "Accusations over amendment passed in parliament under speedy procedures - Bomb dropped by Fani (tourism minister Petralia) on the finance ministry".
TO VIMA: "The Order and Reform Plan - Election prospect in 2007 - From OTE telecoms to the hooded troublemakers".
VRADYNI: "Year of benefits for the military - The government materializing all its promises".
 FM: Whoever promotes illegal airport contributes to division of CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas said that whoever "intents to promote the function of the illegal airport at the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, contributes in a practical manner to the division of Cyprus".
In statements Friday, Lillikas noted that "whoever has such intentions, should make serious thoughts regarding the consequences of such an action, not only for Cyprus, but also for their bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus".
Lillikas was commenting on information that members of the British Civil Aviation are making efforts to open the illegal airport at the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus for international flights.
"There have been some movements on the part of the British authorities, towards European institutions and international organizations for the collection of information regarding the matter", he said.
After noting that the international community is well aware of the fact that the airport in the occupied areas is illegal, since it violates the international law, and the rules of international organizations and Eurocontrol, he said that he hoped that there would be ''no official governmental effort on the part of Great Britain, or any other country to legalize the illegal airport".
Cyprus, an EU member state, is divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory.
In 1983 the Turkish occupied part proclaimed the establishment of an illegal state.
UN Security Council resolutions 541 and 550 called all states not to recognise the self-styled regime and not to facilitate it in any way.
 Cyprus to apply to join EMU early 2007, says Finance MinisterNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus will apply to enter the European Union's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) on February-March next year, Cypriot Finance Minister Michalakis Sarris told CNA on Friday.
According to Sarris, in its application Cyprus will state the reasons for which deems it is ready to join the Euro, which will be assessed by the competent organs in the European Commission by next June and will be ratified by the European Council to be followed by the irrevocable fixing of the Cyprus pound to the euro.
Sarris added that the reason why Cyprus will apply at the specific period to join the euro is because Cyprus will apply along with Malta in case that the latter fulfills the Maastricht criterion on inflation.
''In case Malta will not be ready, Cyprus will proceed with its own application because we fulfill the Maastricht indicators for our entry to the Eurozone,'' Sarris said.
After it entry to the European Union, Cyprus joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism II in May 2 2005, while Council of Ministers adopted January 1 2008 as the target date for the introduction of the euro.