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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-30

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 30 September 2011 Issue No: 3903


  • [01] Cabinet unanimously backs tax measure with sales receipts
  • [02] PM due in Warsaw, cabinet meeting on Sunday
  • [03] PM to meet with French president in Paris on Friday
  • [04] Troika arrives in Athens on Thursday
  • [05] Gov't welcomes German parliament approval of EFSF new powers
  • [06] FM: Greece, Europe, have 'political determination' to overcome crisis
  • [07] Gov't denies statements by Turkish dep. PM
  • [08] ND spokesman: Gov't inert, confused
  • [09] Deputies request minister to appear before parliament committee
  • [10] Ten PASOK MPs disagree with taxi deregulation plan
  • [11] Civil servants block ministries, services in Athens
  • [12] Felony charges against 29 individuals in sub case
  • [13] Gov't launches 2nd phase of investment programme on Oct. 1
  • [14] Sea cruise, yachting to grow further in 2012, minister says
  • [15] Tax bureau to step up wage withholding measure against debtors
  • [16] Air traffic controllers to strike on Wednesday
  • [17] Business Briefs
  • [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [19] Kouros repeating "Pheidippides' Achievement" ultra-course
  • [20] Illegal migrants intercepted in Evros
  • [21] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Cabinet unanimously backs tax measure with sales receipts

    A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday unanimously backed proposed measures that will require tax-payers to present sales receipts amounting to half their net annual income in order to avoid additional taxation from 2012.

    At the meeting, Papandreou also stressed that the government was fully behind a policy based on the decisions of European leaders on July 21, which would be the framework for all its actions.

    Reporting on the results of his visit to Berlin and that of government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos to the United States, Papandreou said that his meetings had been "productive" and had confirmed the willingness of all sides to find a solution to the Eurozone's debt crisis, which first and foremost affected Greece.

    He promised that once the issue of financing the country was resolved, the current focus on Greece would quickly translate into high-quality investments, new jobs, growth and new prospects.

    Among his meetings in Berlin was that with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, where they decided to step up cooperation in energy, a land register, taxation, fire-fighting and local government, but also his talks with German industrialists.

    The prime minister noted that these had raised questions Greece's excessive bureaucracy, which acted as an impediment to investments, as well as the lack of transparency and the persistent problems with corruption. In addition, Papandreou said, they had spoken of the patriotism that their Greek counterparts needed to show.

    He stressed to his ministers that all general talk about growth was futile unless these obstacles to the country's growth were addressed, obstacles that were not caused by a lack of money but by the institutions and operation of the state itself.

    Referring to the scenarios of a Greek default circulating in the media, the prime minister stressed that these often acted as an excuse for inertia or even resistance to major changes.

    "In these scenarios we appear as mere spectators. This is something that we must overturn in Greek society and, clearly, on no account can we let it affect our work, the work of the government," he stressed.

    Papandreou noted that the ratification of the July 21 decisions by European national Parliaments was going ahead and that this was due to the government's decisions and the determination with which it promoted the major changes. He once again underlined the importance of fully implementing the decisions of July 21 in Greece.

    The prime minister also praised PASOK MPs for backing the controversial property surtax measure in Parliament, stressing that they had carried out their patriotic duty.

    During a later press briefing outlining the results of the cabinet meeting, government spokesman Ilias Mossialos said the entire cabinet greeted the sales receipts measure as the first meaningful effort to tackle tax evasion.

    "Anyone with income that is above board has nothing to fear," he stressed while clarifying details of the measure. He also ruled out any tax on people's savings.

    Mossialos said that the government's aim was to set up an electronic data base that would include a statement of people's deposits, real estate and other assets so that everyone's total income and total wealth were known.

    Sources within the government, meanwhile, have not ruled out the possibility of backdated inspections in cases where there is a large discrepancy between assets and declared income.

    Mossialos said that the details of the measures would be outlined in the new national taxation plan that is due to be drawn up in the coming weeks and that they would apply from the start of 2012.

    [02] PM due in Warsaw, cabinet meeting on Sunday

    The prime minister is due to depart for Warsaw later on Thursday, in order to take part in the EU Eastern Partnership Summit. He is due back in Greece before Sunday, when the government is scheduled to hold a cabinet meeting to discuss how to implement the labour reserve measure and the draft budget for 2012 that is due to be tabled in Parliament on Monday.

    [03] PM to meet with French president in Paris on Friday

    Greek prime minister George Papandreou will make a 'lightning' visit to Paris on Friday to meet with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, according to sources on Thursday.

    The same sources said that Papandreou will fly to the French capital from Poland, where he is due later Thursday to take part in the Eastern Partnership summit of the EU member states and the countries of the Eurasian cooperation, which includes the former Soviet republics in Warsaw

    [04] Troika arrives in Athens on Thursday

    The final countdown for the approval of the disbursement of the 8 billion euros sixth tranche of the bailout loan to Greece starts on Thursday with the return of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika chiefs in Athens.

    According to Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, agreement has already been reached by telephone on the figures for the current year as well as for 2012, but the figures of 2013 and 2014 must be reviewed within the framework of the revision of the Mid-Term Strategy programme. Provided agreement is reached on those as well, an extraordinary Eurogroup meeting will take place in October and the sixth tranche will be disbursed by the end of October.

    Apart from the government's new measures (surtax on real estate properties, decrease of tax-free ceiling, etc.), the troika will also discuss the reserve labour plan, the uniform payroll in the public sector and in the Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO), as well as the new taxation system.

    [05] Gov't welcomes German parliament approval of EFSF new powers

    Government Spokesman Ilias Mossialos on Thursday termed the same-day approval by the German Bundestag of new powers for the envisioned European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) as an "exceptionally positive development".

    [06] FM: Greece, Europe, have 'political determination' to overcome crisis

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greece and Europe have the "political determination" to meet the challenges and overcome the present crisis, Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis told a round-table discussion on Wednesday evening in San Francisco, organised by Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

    The theme of the discussion was dealing with the economic crisis in Greece and Europe, and its impact on the global economic system.

    Lambrinidis briefed the participants, including economists of the Institution and professors of economy from Stanford University, Rutgers University, the University of Warsaw, and several think tanks "on the efforts Greece is making and the significant results it has already achieved thanks to the sacrifices of the Greek people", as the foreign minister said.

    Lambrinidis discussed with the other participants the "inconsistencies in the international economic system", in which the attitude of the markets created conditions of "self-fulfilling prophecies", and stressed that Greece and the Greek people, as well as Europe, have the political determination and the economic means to successfully meet the challenges and create the conditions so that Europe will exit the crisis stronger and more united, having the necessary tools to not allow a repeat of such a crisis in the future.

    Earlier, Lambrinidis met with former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, with whom he discussed developments on the economic front in Europe, as well as the increased tension in the eastern Mediterranean region, Turkey's attitude towards the Republic of Cyprus and the destabilising effect this has on the wider region, particularly in the critical period of the Arab spring and developments in the Palestinian issue.

    Before leaving for his return to Athens, Lambrinidis also met with Greek-American businessmen, investors, and researchers in the fields of technology, information technology, energy and transports.

    [07] Gov't denies statements by Turkish dep. PM

    Government spokesman Elias Mossialos on Thursday categorically denied statements made by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc as regards the alleged content of a recent telephone communication between Prime Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    According to claims by Arinc, PM Papandreou allegedly told his Turkish counterpart that "you can conduct research as well, so long as no tension is caused" referring to the drillings within Cyprus' EEZ for the exploitation of hydrocarbons and the Turkish threats for similar research.

    Referring to Arinc's statement that the two premiers agreed to have the meeting of the Greece-Turkey Supreme Council for Cooperation held in Turkey in November, Mossialos stressed that the joint meeting will be held when the right preconditions are present.

    [08] ND spokesman: Gov't inert, confused

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Thursday again lashed out at the government, charging that it resembles an "army of irregulars in a state of panic".

    Mihelakis said the government has been "inert for months, makes decisions in a state of panic, cannot implement decisions, changes its decisions at the last minute and then announces new ones."

    He used as an example the extraordinary surtax on real estate property, the receipt collection measure and the labour reserve in the public sector.

    The ND spokesman accused Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos of inconsistency and of being responsible for the "fiascos", as he charged, with Finland and the EC-ECB-IMF "troika".

    Mihelakis concluded by saying that "this government is not a government."

    [09] Deputies request minister to appear before parliament committee

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS), deputies on Thursday asked that Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas be called to appear before the Parliament's Public Administration committee in order to give explanations on the way of implementation of the reserve labour in the public sector "especially after the recent reaction of the majority of the 151 entities (initially affected by the plan), that they don't have surplus staff" as well as the procedures on the 30 percent cut in ministries' organic units and the abolition of thousands of organic positions.

    The relevant petition also that the president of the Civil Service Hiring Examination Board (ASEP) also be called to appear in order to brief the members of the committee on how the independent authority will make the evaluations of the redundant staff given that there are no legislated, transparent and objective criteria.

    [10] Ten PASOK MPs disagree with taxi deregulation plan

    The ruling PASOK Parliamentary deputies on Thursday sent a letter to Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis expressing their disagreement with the proposed plan for liberalising the taxi sector. A copy of the letter was also sent to Prime Minister George Papandreou, the PASOK party secretary and its rapporteur for transport issues.

    The MPs call on Ragoussis to begin dialogue with taxi drivers, question whether the proposed measures transferring the licences to the state are constitutional and ask that population criteria be taken into account.

    The first MP signing the letter is Dimitris Papoutsis and the rest are all elected in the periphery.

    [11] Civil servants block ministries, services in Athens

    The civil servants' umbrella federation ADEDY and individual groups of protesting public sector employees blocked entrances to most ministries and state agencies in central Athens on Thursday, in protest of the government's economic policies and ahead of the resumption of talks between the government and the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' representatives, who have returned to Athens.

    A handful of ministries, including the finance ministry, were blocked, according to an ADEDY announcement on Thursday morning, while civil servants in other ministries held open general assemblies to decide on future mobilisations.

    Employees at the finance ministry said their aim is to obstruct a 'troika meeting' with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, adding that they will remain in place for 48 hours.

    ADEDY president Costas Tsikrikas told AMNA that the actions were of a "symbolic nature", aimed at sending a "resounding message" to the government and the EU that the present situation cannot continue, given that the working people and the employees in the public sector much more, have "borne the major brunt of the burdens".

    He added that total losses to civil servants' incomes, including the latest 20-percent reduction that will arise with the new unified salary scale, exceeds 50 percent.

    [12] Felony charges against 29 individuals in sub case

    An eight-count felony indictment was filed against 29 individuals on Thursday by an Athens first instance court prosecutor investigating the purchase of four German-made submarines (type 214).

    Charges include aggravated active bribery of public officials; complicity to bribe against six individuals; passive bribery against 10 individuals; breach of faith against four defendants and legalising revenue from criminal activities, amongst others.

    The case involves the controversial purchase of four submarines by the Hellenic Navy from the German shipbuilder Ferrostaal-HDW.

    Financial News

    [13] Gov't launches 2nd phase of investment programme on Oct. 1

    The Greek government will launch a second phase of a new investment framework law from Oct. 1, calling on investors to submit investment plans by the end of October for evaluation and approval.

    Large-scale investment plans -- with a budget of more than 50 million euros -- could be submitted by the end of the year.

    Under the second phase of the investment law, the government has earmarked 3.27 billion euros for financial support, of which 2.37 billion euros are in the form of tax breaks and the remaining 900 million euros in form of capital and leasing subsidies.

    The first phase of the investment law, which began in May, was progressing according to plan, with all investment plans submitted have been evaluated and 63 plans already approved with a budget of 402,015,074 euros creating 497 new job positions.

    Development, Competitiveness & Shipping Deputy minister Thanos Moraitis, said the new institutional framework guaranteed transparency, efficiency, objectivity and a rapid implementation of procedures.

    [14] Sea cruise, yachting to grow further in 2012, minister says

    Culture & Tourism Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis on Thursday expressed his confidence that sea cruise and yachting will grow further next year.

    Addressing a conference on "Shipping Today & Tomorrow -International Developments, Trends and Investments in the Greek and International Shipping-Tourism Market", Nikitiadis said Greece already holds a significant share of the European sea cruise market , reaching the top in 2009 and predicted that Greece will resume this position soon as the government was rapidly implementing a sea tourism development plan. The Greek minister stressed that establishing Greece as a home port for sea cruise could add up to 4.0 pct of the country's Gross Domestic Product. Nikitiadis said that demand for sea cruise grew by 12 pct on average in the last five years and stressed that Greece could benefit from this trend, although he noted that sea cruise revenues lagged behind the growth rate in the sector.

    Greek revenues from sea cruise was 4.3 pct of total European revenues, when its share in the market was 20.9 pct. Revenues fell to 4.0 pct of total European revenues in 2010.

    [15] Tax bureau to step up wage withholding measure against debtors

    The tax bureau will activate its services to withhold wages from individuals identified as owing debts to the state, finance ministry officials said on Thursday.

    The measure will also be implemented against civil servants and pensions, according to a finance ministry circular, on the condition that owed amounts are not under 1,000 euros.

    While the measure is not unprecedented, its implementation will be intensified, ministry sources said.

    In a related development, the head of the union representing employees at the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said 20 staff members have had a portion of their wages withheld for outstanding debts to the tax bureau.

    [16] Air traffic controllers to strike on Wednesday

    All scheduled flights from and to Greek airports will not be carried out on Wednesday, Oct. 5 after the air traffic controllers' decision to participate in the 24-hour strike called by the civil servants union federation ADEDY.

    The Civil Aviation Authority cannot take legal action against the strike because the mobilization is held under the umbrella of ADEDY.

    [17] Business Briefs

    -- The 20 largest pharmaceutical enterprises accounted for 72 pct of the Greek market despite marked changes in the trend of revenues and in pharmaceutical product prices in the January-August period this year.

    [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.381

    Pound sterling 0.883

    Danish kroner 7.553

    Swedish kroner 9.349

    Japanese yen 106.03

    Swiss franc 1.239

    Norwegian kroner 7.960

    Canadian dollar 1.426

    Australian dollar 1.407

    General News

    [19] Kouros repeating "Pheidippides' Achievement" ultra-course

    Greek world-renowned ultra-marathon runner Yannis Kouros is repeating the "Pheidippides' Achievement" course he ran in 2005, covering the approximately 500 kilometers of the Athens-Sparta-Athens route in under 54 hours, and possibly beating his 2005 record time of 53 hours, 43 minutes and 11 seconds.

    Kouros set off on the first leg of the ultra-distance race on Tuesday afternoon from the Sanctuary of Pan in Thission, arriving in Ancient Sparta at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, having covered the distance in 24 hours and 13 minutes.

    After a five-minute break for statements to the local press, Kouros set off on the second leg for the return to Athens, where he is expected to arrive back at Thission late Thursday or in the early hours of Friday.

    Kouros, who was born in 1956 in Tripolis, is well-known all over the world for his decades of mythical and unbroken world records in ultra-running.

    He currently holds more than 115 world records.

    Kouros is also an author, poet, composer of songs and instrumental pieces and painter, as well as being acclaimed world-wide as a visionary and supporter and promoter of peace around the globe.

    [20] Illegal migrants intercepted in Evros

    Six illegal migrants, four Iranians, an Iraqi and a Syrian man, were arrested in the northeast border region of Evros on Thursday following a brief police chase, while the alleged migrant smuggler fled the scene and is being sought by authorities.

    Police also seized a stolen vehicle used in the ill-fated transport of the Third World nationals from Evros to a destination in Greece's interior.

    The illegal migrants were apprehended when they abandoned the car on Egnatia motorway, after earlier having been ferried into Greece from the opposite Turkish border, authorities said.

    [21] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Troika's (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) return to Athens on Thursday, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos' statements and retractions, the complications that have arisen regarding the reserve labour and the sell-off of the state property, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Venizelos says and unsays".

    AVGHI: " 'Eureka' plan for the great sell-off".

    AVRIANI: "The full text of the Germans' plan for the looting of the Greek state property".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Rehearsal of looting of the state property".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The discount sales become presumed proof of living standard".

    ESTIA: "Big brother with the receipts".

    ETHNOS: "Households with accounting books".

    IMERISSIA: "Source of wealth statement for all".

    KATHIMERINI: "Class mixture of taxes and populism".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Palinodes in taxation and storm of reactions".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Huge protest rallies in Athens, Thessaloniki and in other Greek cities".

    TA NEA: "Complication with the reserve labour".

    VRADYNI: "How to calculate the retirement superannuity".

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