|Thursday, 1 October 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-08-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 5 August 2011 Issue No: 3856
 Health minister announces welfare system overhaulHealth and Social Solidarity Minister Andreas Loverdos on Thursday announced plans to combine the country's various registers of welfare benefit recipients into a single, unified record, in a bid to shed light on where the money spent on welfare was going.
He made the announcement during a first meeting with the heads of welfare institutions, saying he hoped to uncover incidents of welfare fraud that were apparent in the general statistics. Among these he cited reports concerning fake disability pensions on the island of Zakynthos, occasions where a single recipient received benefits from more than one local authority, or two different kinds of benefits from the same authority. As an example he cited Hania, where approximately 24 percent of the population appeared to be suffering from some form of disability.
The minister also announced that current facilities belonging to welfare, such as the six recovery centres that were currently underused, would be made part of the national health system and offer health services that were currently costing social insurance funds 52 million euro a year.
Loverdos announced that a draft bill for overhauling the welfare system will be ready by mid-August.
 Draft bill on tertiary education reform to be ready by August 18, minister saysEducation, Life-long Learning and Religions Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Thursday told Parliament's Educational Affairs Committee that the final version of a draft bill reforming the structure and operation of Greece's tertiary education system will be tabled in Parliament on August 18.
She said this would incorporate the changes proposed by MPs from all political parties in Parliament and be brought before the Parliamentary plenum for a discussion and vote on August 22.
Diamantopoulou noted that a great number of changes had been proposed by MPs after a second reading of the current version of the draft bill before the Committee, with proposals for amendments coming in to the education ministry until late on Wednesday night.
Among the issues raised during Thursday's session, by main opposition New Democracy MP Aris Spiliotopoulos, was that of whether the changes concerning university self-governance were Constitutional.
 Parliament committee finds no evidence to support criminal charge in submarine caseReports by a Parliament committee investigating a scandal over faulty submarines purchased by Greece on Thursday found indications of grave political responsibility on the part of the ministers involved but no evidence to support a criminal investigation.
The investigation focused primarily on the terms of two contracts signed with the German firm HDW, one for the initial purchase of four submarines and a second for offset benefits.
Though each party on the committee submitted a separate report concerning the events between 2000-2009, they all agreed that the interests of the Greek state had been significantly harmed by the signature and execution of the contracts.
Main opposition New Democracy was the only party to exclude the period between 2004-2009, when the party was in government, from any share of responsibility.
According to ruling PASOK, "the Procurements Committee arrived at the conclusion that there is grave political responsibility of the national defence ministers of the period 2000-2009 concerning the contracts for the submarines. These responsibilities were strongly highlighted in the period 2006-2009 but at the present stage no evidence arose for further investigation of possible criminal responsibility."
Among the faults PASOK attributed to the ministers in charge were a weakness in the terms of the contract, a silent extension of the contract deadline, poorly conducted negotiations and confusion concerning the ability of the submarine "Papanikolis" to meet the contract specifications that impacted on how the two contracts for the submarines progressed.
PASOK MPs noted that the result was that the contractors eventually pulled out of the contract even though the Greek side had paid 2,033,100,000 euro, or 80 percent, of the total for the two contracts.
According to ND, there was clearly responsibility on the part of those that approved the signature of the contracts for the submarines but refused to accept that the ministers in the period 2004-2009 had any share in the responsibility since they were bound by the terms of the original bad contracts and had no option but to honour them.
ND MP Miltiadis Varvitsiotis also noted that the problems became apparent after 80 percent of the purchase price had already been paid.
The main opposition held Tsohatzopoulos responsible for the original contract for the building of 3+1 214-type submarines and the leadership of the defence ministry in 2002, when Yiannos Papantoniou was minister, for a subsequent off-set benefits contract that they said had held later ministry leadership "hostage".
It also noted that the Greek side's options were severely restricted under the terms of the contract since it held letters of guarantee only from Hellenic Shipyards rather than the contractor HDW or a bank, while the process of terminating the contract was judged counterproductive since it called for recourse to an arbitration court with unclear arbitration terms, that often led to a compromise at the expense of the Greek state.
The German side, by contrast, was protected by contractual terms that were extremely odious for the Greek state, ND added.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) shared blame equally between past PASOK and main opposition ND defence ministers, up to and including Evangelos Venizelos in the present government. KKE said that a number of aspects called for further investigation to determine whether there was also criminal liability.
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) was similarly even-handed in attributing blame on a political level, though highlighting the period when Evangelos Meimarakis was minister and the German side finally terminated the contract.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) stressed the need for further investigation of the individuals named in a prosecutor's report, saying that the committee had been prevented from fully completing its work.
The committee asked Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos to forward copies of their report to the president of the Legal Council of State, so that along with the report produced by the Parliamentary Preliminary Examination Committee investigating former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, it would be able to establish the state's claim for damages in civil proceedings.
It also called for an assessment of the full damage to the public sector and that a copy of the report be sent to the Athens first-instance prosecutors' office to be included in the evidence file. The report noted that the evidence uncovered during an examination of the contracts will help assign responsibility to those involved, given that "the contractual weaknesses and faults are linked in the Committee's opinion with the bribery of individuals now under investigation by the prosecuting authority".
 Taxi owners to hold meeting on ending strikeTaxi owners may soon end a strike that has now entered its 18th consecutive day, in an emergency meeting that will be held on Thursday or Friday.
The head of their largest association SATA Thymios Lymberopoulos is expected to propose an end to the strike during the meeting, after the national association's presidency met with regional authority chiefs and they promised not to accept any more applications or issue new taxi licences until the transport ministry draft bill is tabled in Parliament.
 Parliament plenum to suspend work for two weeks from FridayThe Greek Parliament plenum will suspend its work for two weeks from Friday, convening once more on August 22.
When Parliament reconvenes it will also make a decision on a proposal by 108 ruling party MPs for a Parliamentary Preliminary Examination of former minister George Alogoskoufis and Christos Markoyiannakis in relation to the Siemens kickbacks scandal.
 House endorces FinMin omnibus billThe Greek Parliament's plenum endorsed on Thursday night a finance ministry omnibus bill regarding pension issues, the promotion of the tourism industry, taxation issues etc.
The new law also comprises amendments regarding, among others, the merger or abolition of public sector agencies.
 Greek economic sentiment index slightly up in JulyGreece's economic sentiment index rose slightly in July to 70.9 points remaining significantly down from its long-term average level, while consumer confidence fell to new record lows in the month, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.
The economic sentiment index improved slightly in all sectors of the economy, with the exception of the construction sector which fell to new record lows. Business expectations in the industrial sector showed that negative forecasts over production changed direction in July, recording the best performance in the last four months, while the inventories index fell slightly. In the services sector, negative expectations over the current level of works fell significantly in July, although expectations over demand worsened afresh.
In the retail sector, business expectations improved, while in the construction sector expectations over employment worsened in the month.
Greek households' forecasts over their finances worsened markedly in July, falling to new record lows, while forecasts over the country's finances remained extremely negative. Greek consumers remained the most pessimistic consumers in Europe, followed by consumers in Portugal, Romania and Bulgaria.
 Credit flow to private sector remained negative in JuneCredit to the Greek private sector remained negative for one more month in June, with the annual growth rate of total credit granted to the domestic private sector standing at -1.2 pct in June 2011, compared with -1.1 pct in May 2011 and 0.0 pct in December 2010, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a report, said that the net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was positive amounting to 407 million euros (June 2010: positive net flow of 757 million euros).
 Credit to enterprisesThe net flow of credit to enterprises in June 2011 was positive, amounting to 666 million euros (June 2010: positive net flow of 775 million euros) and the annual growth rate of credit stood at 0.2 pct compared with 0.3 pct in May 2011 (December 2010: 1.1 pct).
 Credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnershipsThe net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative, amounting to -10 million euros in June 2011, and the annual rate of change of credit decreased in comparison with the previous month (June 2011: -3.4 pct, May 2011: -3.2 pct, December 2010: 0.3 pct).
Credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions
In June 2011, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to -249 million euros (June 2010: -18 million euros). As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions slightly decreased further (June 2011: -2.5 pct, May 2011: -2.3 pct, December 2010: -1.2 pct).
 Fifteen to stand trial for structured bond scandalThe Appeals Justices Council on Thursday ruled that 15 people should stand trial for the 280-million-euro structured bond sold to Greek social insurance funds at inflated prices.
Those indicted include the representatives of the Greek brokerage "Akropolis", representatives of North Asset Management and JP Morgan and the heads of the funds involved, as well as the labour ministry general secretary of that time.
They are Giorgos Apostolidis, Sofoklis Priniotakis, Theodoros Priniotakis, Giorgos Papapmarkakis, Agapios Simeoforidis, Panagiota Karadima, Panagiotis Demestihas, Gerassimos Konidaris, Konstantinos Christidis, Haralambos Adamopoulos, Avraam Savvidis, Nikos Bougas, Evgenios Papadopoulos, Dimitris Liatis and Angelos Liatis.
The charges against them are that of acting in concert to commit fraud, being a direct accomplice to fraud, breach of faith, morally instigating breach of faith, legalising income from illegal activity, forming a criminal organisation, harbouring a criminal that had embezzled the state sector, tax evasion and being a direct accomplice in tax evasion.
The three Akropolis executives Giorgos Apostolidis, Theodoros Priniotakis and Sofoklis Priniotakis are currently in jail pending trial.
 Business Briefs-- Deutsche Telekom, OTE's (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) main shareholder, on Thursday said the German group was expected "to assess whether its investment in Greece was worth it", while at the same time criticized the country's regulatory authorities for their policies in the telecoms market.
-- Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Thursday said its net profits soared to 92.4 million euros in the first half of 2011, from 5.0 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
-- Coca-Cola 3E on Thursday said its net profits dropped 28 pct in the first half of 2011 to 146 million euros, from 202 million euros in the corresponding period last year, while revenue rose 3.0 pct to 3.396 billion euros from 3.30 billion euros last year.
-- The development, competitiveness and shipping ministry will hold a temporary public tender in early September for a contractor to undertake preparation of actions for the clustering of small and medium enterprises and collaborative commerce, it was announced on Thursday.
-- Loulis Flour Mills SA on Thursday announced the signing of a secured bond loan worth 25 million euros.
-- Frigoglass on Thursday reported a 30.1 pct increase in its first-half net profits to 19.266 million euros, from 14.806 million euros in the same period last year.
 Prices' decline extends for ninth sessionGreek stocks remained under strong selling pressure for the ninth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index ending below the 1,100 level. An initial upward reaction of the market proved weak as sellers took the upper hand pushing the composite index of the market to new 15-year lows. The index fell 1.35 pct to 1,086.43 points after rising as much as 1.42 pct during the session. Turnover was a low 67.660 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.50 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.78 pct lower and the Small Cap index ended 1.48 pct down. MIG (2.56 pct), Eurobank (1.26 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (0.40 pct), OPAP (0.28 pct) and Coca Cola 3E (0.30 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Cyprus Bank (6.34 pct), Ellaktor (5.73 pct), PPC (4.71 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (3.56 pct) were top losers.
The Financial Services (0.76 pct), Travel (0.27 pct) and Food (0.24 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (9.76 pct), Commerce (6.98 pct), Utilities (4.22 pct) and Telecommu-nications (3.40 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 103 to 34 with another 48 issues unchanged. BIS (9.72 pct), Akritas (8.89 pct) and Mathios (8.82 pct) were top gainers, while G.E. Dimitriou (20 pct), Byte Computer (16 pct) and Elgeka (13.33 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.16%
Personal & Household: -1.32%
Raw Materials: -2.00%
Travel & Leisure: +0.27%
Food & Beverages: +0.24%
Financial Services: +0.76%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.29
HBC Coca Cola: 16.45
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.18
National Bank of Greece: 4.25
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.42
Bank of Piraeus: 0.74
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to 18.072 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,076 contracts worth 12.102 million euros, with 30,453 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,331 contracts worth 5.969 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (5,327), followed by Eurobank (2,575), National Bank (4,769), Alpha Bank (2,680), ATEbank (1,222), Mytilineos (680), Cyprus Bank (719), PPC (821), MIG (540), OTE (665) and Marfin Popular Bank (1,012).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.444
Pound sterling 0.884
Danish kroner 7.560
Swedish kroner 9.286
Japanese yen 114.94
Swiss franc 1.117
Norwegian kroner 7.856
Canadian dollar 1.403
Australian dollar 1.366
 Wildfires on Lesvos, Corfu; inhabited regions threatened in LaconiaA wildfire that broke out on Thursday in the region of Ano Tompra, west of Gythio in Laconia prefecture, located in the southern province of Peloponnese, has burned its way through the village of Lygereas, threatening private houses and destroying forest land and crops. Fifteen firemen with 7 fire engines, 15 firemen on foot and 4 water-bombing aircraft participated in the firefighting efforts.
Wildfires that did not threaten inhabited regions were burning on the northeast Aegean island of Lesvos and on the Ionian Sea island of Corfu.
On Lesvos, a wildfire broke out in an inaccessible forest region of Nyfida. A total of 26 firefighters with 13 fire engines and 8 firemen on foot were battling the blaze assisted by three local authority firefighting vehicles and 10 volunteers. Four water-bombing aircraft and a helicopter were also operating in the region, hampered by strong winds.
On the island of Corfu, the wildfire that broke out a day earlier in the region of Loutses was still burning, fanned by strong winds while firefighting efforts were hampered by the region's terrain. Five water-bombing aircraft, a helicopter, 9 fire engines with a crew of 17 firefighters and 5 firemen on foot participated in the efforts to contain the fire.
 Suspect confesses to arson on CorfuA 30-year-old man was arrested on Thursday for arson on Corfu island and confessed during questioning that he had set one of the many fires that broke out almost simultaneously on Corfu island on Tuesday.
The suspect was arrested together with four others, who were released after the conclusion of a police investigation.
According to eye-witnesses the 30-year-old man was also spotted at three more fronts where fires had erupted, specifically at the villages of Lakones, Alimatades and Vistonas.
Meanwhile the fire burning in the pine forest at Kobitsi, Corfu, has been partially contained, while the three other fronts at Lakones are still burning but not with the same force.
Units of firemen on foot and firefighting airplanes are operating in the area to extinguish rekindlings.
 Annual report on 'Sea Diamond' wreck says impact on Santorini marine ecosystem 'negligible'The impact of the 'Sea Diamond' wreck on the marine ecosystem in Santorini is negligible, according to a report released by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research on Thursday. The report was based on research conducted between November 2010 and May 2011, in the fourth such annual report.
This found that there were no problems caused by the leak of fuel from the sunken ship and that the quality of the sea water -- which is used by the desalination unit in Oia to produce drinking water -- is excellent, while marine life in the area was healthy and fish that were fished near the wreck were safe for consumption and their concentration in heavy metals was found to be comparable to that of fish from all over Greece.
Further, the concentration of heavy metals in the sea was found also found to be the same as those traced in the open sea.
It is also noted that the approximately 450 tons of fuel that leaked into the sea after the Sea Diamond sank was cleaned up by a private company, with the bill footed by the owner company at a cost of 6 million dollars, while a floating barrier that has been placed in the area of the wreck is monitored daily by a pollution-control vessel staffed by specialised personnel, again at the shipowning company's expense.
The annual inspections and reports were assigned to the Centre by the former Merchant Marine Ministry via a Presidential Decree in November 2002, with the cost covered by the shipowning company.
The cruise liner "Sea Diamond", owned by Louis Hellenic Cruises, sank on April 6, 2007, a day after ramming into a reef and developing a list while sailing half a nautical mile from the Aegean island of Santorini in the Cyclades, with 1,195 passengers and 391 crew on board, who were safely evacuated with the exception of a French man and his teenage daughter, who were reported missing and presumed dead.
Experts later attributed the accident to a faulty map of the area by the hydrographic service that showed the reef to be located 57 meters from the coast and at a depth of 18-22 meters, whereas the reef in actuality was located 131 meters from the coast at a depth of just 5 meters, and the Sea Diamond's captain was subsequently acquitted of causing the accident.
 Annual Peach Festival in Velvendo opens FridayThe 7th annual Peach Festival opens Friday in the village of Velvendo, Kozani prefecture, and promises visitors a three-day feast of local specialties, music and dance.
The Festival, which runs through Sunday, features a non-stop treat of local delicacies prepared by the women of the village, including home-made marmalade and jam made from the area's famed peaches, as well as traditional dance performances, a concert and two nights of 'laika' music.
Velvendo is notable for its peaches, with their deep color and unique taste.
The Velvendo plan extends some 15,000 stremma and is filled with peach treas.
Peach production in Velvendo exceeds 19 million kilos per year.
 Man canoes around Crete in support of centre for disabledA local man paddled around the island of Crete in a canoe, staying at sea for roughly one month and covering a distance of 830 nautical miles, to send a loud message in support of the Hania Centre of Daily Care and Occupation for people with special needs.
Giorgos Perrakis, who lives in Hania, began his voyage on July 4 from the city's Venetian seaport where he returned a month later to be warmly received by centre board members, parents and children who stay at the centre, as well as, local administration authorities.
"It was a great endeavour but its purpose was even greater," he underlined.
His initiative was not held for fundraising purposes but aimed to highlight the work done at the centre.
 Man arrested, woman photographer wanted in child pornography caseA 37-year-old Greek man was arrested and his female accomplice, a foreign professional photographer, was wanted on child pornography charges, police said on Thursday.
Police said the man and woman had photographed a 16-year-old girl in semi-nude positions and uploaded the photographs on various internet sites.
The two face charges of child pornography via the internet.
The 37-year-old man was arrested on Thursday morning at his home in Aghios Stefanos, Attica prefecture, by officers from the police economic and electronic crimes units.
The teen girl's father had filed a complained with the electronic crimes squad that the owners of a website had approached his underage daughter and convinced her to allow them to photograph and videotape her in semi-nude positions.
The father said that the 37-year-old man had contacted his daughter in the winter of 2010 via a social networking site, and that together with the wanted photographer had taken her to a seaside hotel where the photographs and videos were shot.
 Businessman, alleged hit-man arrested for death contract against other businessman on RhodesA businessman on the island of Rhodes has been arrested by police, accused of assigning a "death contract" against another businessman to a 31-year-old Albanian national, who was also arrested.
According to local police on Thursday, the businessman had hired an Albanian hit-man to kill the second businessman, with whom he apparently had differences.
The Albanian was arrested first, and at a pre-arranged meeting between the two the businessman was also arrested.
Police found a hand-written with instructions on how the execution was to take place, together with the receipt of a bank payment order for the sum of 12,000 euros in the businessman's possession.
The detainees will be taken before a local prosecutor later in the day.
 Illegal migrants arrested in NE GreecePolice in Rodopi, northeast Greece, arrested 2 migrant smugglers and 20 illegal migrants, while another 11 illegals were arrested in Feres near Alexandroupolis also in the northeast, it was announced on Thursday.
DIAS motorcycle police officers in Rodopi found the illegal migrants hidden in a truck following a chase on Egnatia Odos national motorway when its driver refused to stop for a routine check. A Palestinian driver and a Tunisian co-driver were arrested, as well as 20 illegal migrants found in the truck (12 Palestinians, an Iraqi and 7 Kuwaitis).
In a separate incident, police arrested 11 illegal migrants (10 Iraqis and an Iranian) they had been spotted in a rural region in Feres where they were waiting for a truck to transport them to Athens. Authorities also arrested an Iraqi smuggler while two others managed to flee.
Both trucks had been stolen in the greater Athens region.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe borrowing crisis in the eurozone and other economic issues were the main front-page items on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government has set up 41 new General and Special Secretariats and other services...".
AVGHI: "Brussels' decisions are playing cards".
AVRIANI: "Markets torching eurozone".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ruling PASOK deputy Stathis Koutmeridis has set up his own NGO in order to accommodate 'their own children' in the public sector".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos retrospectively acquits himself and all former finance ministers over boosts to banking sector".
ESTIA: "Unacceptable bickering over taxi deregulation between government and taxi owners but also within the ruling party".
ETHNOS: " 732 doctors bled major social security funds".
IMERISSIA: "Alarm in EU - Fears that crisis will escalate".
KATHIMERINI: "Barroso: Approval of agreement for Greece must be sped up".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Political support against market pressures".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government attempts 'drug sedation' of our people and our children".
TA NEA: "Tax bureaus will be transferred to Citizens Service Centers (KEP)".
VRADYNI: "Illegal buildings also to pay for IKA (state Social Security Foundation)".
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