|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-10-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Tsipras presents government policy statements to Parliament, emphasising growth and debt reliefRestoring economic stability and a return to growth, combined with substantial debt relief and public administration reforms are the government's priorities, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday while presented the government's policy statements in Parliament. All the above, while simultaneously stamping out corruption "are the only safe way to exit the crisis and supervision," Tsipras said.
"Today we have succeeded in securing the country's economic stability and to finally end the discussion on a grexit," he added, noting that the new deal with Greece's creditors created an indisputably more favourable fiscal framework, with margins to use resources to support growth.
Tsipras stressed that the government's goal was to pave the way for a new economic growth model, one that was progressive and different from that of classic neoliberalism.
The prime minister said that the government's goal was to restore liquidity within the next 20 months, by the first half of 2017, as well as the country's ability to borrow from the markets.
He also stressed the need to proceed with the first review of the Greek programme without delay, "even though it contains difficult and in some cases deleterious measures."
A successful conclusion of the review would be the key that unlocked the door to vital debt relief and a bank recapitalisation to protect deposits and clear the banking system of non-performing loans, he said.
The three-day debate on the government's policy statements will culminate in a vote of confidence in the government at midnight on Wednesday night.
 PM Tsipras to suspend 23 pct VAT on private educationPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to announce the suspension of the 23 percent VAT on private education.
According to sources, the announcement is expected to be made on Monday evening in Parliament during the presentation of the government policy statements.
 Greek 2016 draft budget forsees primary surplus of 894 mln eurosGreek Finance ministry on Monday tabled to Parliament the draft budget plan for 2016 envisaging the government's priorities for social justice and fiscal responsibility.
The draft budget plan forsees that the general government will present a primary deficit of 418 million euros, or 0.24 pct of GDP this year. This estimate was based on the implementation of structural reforms and institutional changes agreed with the creditors, such as interventions in tax policy and social insurance in the second half of the year.
The ministry said that the government has made efforts to exploit a fiscal area which was safeguarded after hard negotiations with the country's creditors and noted that drafting of the 2016 budget was made amid adverse economic conditions and under political commitments made by the government in an agreement with its lenders.
The general government budget envisages a primary surplus of 894 million euros in 2016, or 0.5 pct of GDP, in line with an agreement signed with the troika. The budget includes a series of interventions such as reforming a VAT code, changes in a special solidarity contribution, raising advance payment of income tax for self-employed, raising tax rates for incomes from rents and expanding the Greek state's participation to 30 pct of OPAP's profits from videogames.
The interventions on social insurance include saving money from reforming the public sector and social insurance organizations, raising contributions for healthcare on pensioners and reforming the lump sum payment system.
The government secured additional funds for social protection and economic activity, such as raising a spending ceiling for state hospitals by around 150 million euros in 2015, 2016, and later. It also allows for around 100 million euros which will offer financial relief to the weaker classes and for raising spending of the Public Investment Program by around 50 million euros to boost employment and economic growth.
"We are certain that we will successfully deal with a difficult challenge of exiting the crisis and protecting, as we must, our fellow citizens with the greatest need," the ministry said in the draft budget plan.
The 2016 draft budget plan also envisages a GDP contraction by 2.3 pct this year and by 1.3 pct in 2016, with the country's Gross Domestic Product falling to 173,365 billion euros next year. The unemployment rate is projected to rise to 25.8 pct of the workforce in 2016, from 25.4 pct this year and 24.6 pct in 2014.
Regular budget net revenues are expected to ease to 53,344 billion euros in 2016 from 53,480 billion this year, while spending is projected to ease slightly to 55,685 billion euros from 55,690 billion euros over the same periods, respectively. Public Investment Program's spending its expected to rise to 6,750 billion euros in 2016 from 6.4 billion this year.
 PM Tsipras and Austrian Chancellor Faymann to visit Lesvos on TuesdayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann will visit Lesvos island on Tuesday.
More specifically, they will visit the reception and identification centre and they will discuss on further collabo-ration between the two countries on the refugees issue.
Austria has already announced that it will send around 100 employees to assist the Greek authorities.
 PM Tsipras to meet EU Commissioner Cretu on TuesdayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet with EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu on Tuesday, at 09:30. The meeting will take place at Maximos Mansion.
 First batch of Greek reforms must be implemented by Oct 15, says DijsselbloemLUXEMBOURG (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The first list of reforms agreed between the Greek authorities and the representatives of the lenders will have to be implemented by October 15, in order for the first 2-billion-euro subtranche of the country's loan to be disbursed, Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday after the end of the finance minister's meeting in Luxembourg.
The Dutch official expressed the satisfaction of all Eurozone finance ministers for the commitment shown by the Greek authorities to implement the program, but added that a lot of work needs to be done to regain trust inside and outside Greece.
Continuing on the second batch of prior actions, Dijsselbloem said it must be agreed upon later in October. "We asked the institutions and the Greek authorities to work as hard as possible to be able to conclude the first review as soon as possible," he said, noting that there should also be proposed reforms on the pension system, public administration and the financial system.
Concerning the recapitalization of Greece's lenders, Dijsselbloem said that the first review will have to be completed successfully before it is discussed, noting that it should be done in November or December.
 Eurogroup head: Greek government has work to do in implementing reformsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
Greece still needs to do a lot of work in implementing and designing reforms, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday after a meeting with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos earlier in the day.
"A lot of work has to be done, a number of reforms still have to be implemented, new reforms have to be designer on the pension market, labour market etc," he told journalists as he arrived for the Eurogroup meeting.
Dijsselbloem also said that as soon as these reforms are in place, talk can begin on bank recapitalization and debt relief. "All I can say it is in the Greek interest to deliver as quickly as possible, so we can also continue with the process of bank recapitalization, and go into the debate about debt restructuring, debt relief, but all this requires previous work."
 EU's Moscovici sees no new 'drama' in Greece crisis, provided commitments are fulfilledBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
Arriving for a Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he was confident that there will be no "new drama" involving Greece but stressed that it must fulfill the the commitments made to its creditors by adopting the required reforms and prior actions.
"I am confident there is a common will to avoid a new drama, a new tragedy with Greece but at the same time we must also be vigilant. As I said, the Commission is here to help Greece, but we are also here to recall that commitments have to be fulfilled, that milestones have to accomplished, that sets of prior actions need to be voted and that the key word for Greece, as always - and this requires to have a strong administration with a strong political will - is implementation," he said.
Replying to questions, Moscovici said he had high confidence that the new Greek government under Alexis Tsipras would do just that, since it was "now very aware that there is no other alternative" to fulfilling the commitments required by the European Union in order to benefit from the 86-billion-euro programme, and the huge funds available for investment and bank recapitalisation.
"So it's our common interest to succeed. I welcome the commitments taken again by Mr. Tsipras last week, [his] firm intention to do what is necessary in order to fulfill these commitments. And it is exactly in the same spirit that we will welcome again Euclid Tsakalotos, the Greek minister of finance. He is the man who showed his willingness to negotiate first, then to conclude the necessary arrangements in order to have a strong programme that will benefit the Eurozone, which will have Greece within its own field, but also Greece and mostly for Greece, which needs to recover growth and stability through this programme too," he added.
Asked if there might be greater fiscal flexibility due to the refugee crisis, Moscovici said that this issue will not be discussed at the Eurogroup but noted that the Stability and Growth Pact made provision for relaxing fiscal discipline during "exceptional circumstances" and that the Commission was examining whether the refugee crisis could be considered such an "exceptional circumstance".
 Head of EU Commission's new 'task force' for Greece in Athens to discuss refugee crisis responseThe head of the European Commission's Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) Maarten Verwey is due in Greece on Monday for a visit focusing on the response to the refugee crisis. The head of the Commission's new 'task force' for Greece will spend Monday in Athens, attending meetings to be held by European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu, and then visit the island of Lesvos on Tuesday in order to speed up efforts to set up the first refugee 'hot spot' on the island.
Speaking to the ANA-MPA, the head of the European Commission's Office in Athens Panagiotis Karvounis said that Verwey was visiting Greece in the framework of his remit, in order to assist the efforts to quickly and effectively deal with the challenges posed by the refugee issue "since there is no time to waste". While visiting Lesvos, Verwey will seek to get an idea of the problems at first hand and discuss the installation and operation of the first hot spot, which Greek authorities have agreed must be operational very soon, he added.
The SRSS is the 'successor' agency to the Commission's EU Task Force for Greece, which was led by Horst Reichenbach.
 SYRIZA and party leader Tsipras hail rise of Left Bloc in Portugal's electionsSYRIZA and its president and Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, hailed on Monday the electoral results achieved by Portugal's Left Bloc in the country's general elections on Sunday, saying it gives hope for the future of the Portuguese people.
"The rise of the Left Bloc gives hope for a better future for the people of Portugal and strengthens the resistance of the people of southern Europe against the neoliberal dictates of the European Right," SYRIZA said in a press release, adding that the fight for a pan-European front which will promote prosperity for all will continue.
 ND leader Meimarakis: We're looking forward to prime minister's statementsNew Democracy leader Evangelos Meimarakis on Monday had a meeting with parliamentary spokesmen.
"We are looking forward to what the prime minister has to say, as well as New Democracy," Meimarakis noted. He added that a meeting of the parliamentary group presidency will take place after the policy statements.
 'My aim is to make ND a large centre-right party,' party candidate leader Mitsotakis says"My aim is to make New Democracy a large centre-right party and not a party that reflects only a part of the centre-right wing," New Democracy parliamentary spokesman and candidate party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview with Praktorio 104.9 FM.
Mitsotakis stressed the need for New Democracy to mature and restore the confidence of the people. He underlined that this can happen with new party members and policies as well as democratic procedures.
 Potami party to gov't: Cut state spending instead of increasing VAT in private educationThe Greek government should minimize the state's waste to improve its finances instead of increasing VAT in private education, Potami party said in a press release on Monday, commenting on the conflicting statements and backpedalling of government officials on the issue.
The party noted that SYRIZA had initially supported the measure, claiming it would hit higher incomes, when it is actually poorer households who send their children to private tutoring classes. "Reducing ongoing state waste leaves much room for solutions, on condition that they want to [cut waste]," it said.
 Alt. FM Xydakis meets Finnish Ambassador, holds talks on refugee and migration issueAlternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis on Monday met the Finnish Ambassador to Greece Pauli Makela at the foreign ministry for talks focusing mainly on the management of the refugee and migration issue.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, the discussion took place in an excellent climate, focusing on issues of common interest, while the two sides also agreed on the further expansion and strengthening of the bilateral relations between the two countries.
 Council of State to discuss case against Piraeus Port privatisation on TuesdayA case against the privatisation of Piraeus port, brought by local government agencies and local bodies, is to be discussed before the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, on Tuesday.
Piraeus Deputy Regional Governor Giorgos Gavrilis has submitted a nine-page memorandum outlining the positions of the Attica regional authority on the issue, opposing the privatisation and saying that a petition by local bodies for the cancellation of the process must be approved.
Among others, the regional authority notes that the Piraeus Port Authority has responsibilities that "belong to the core of state authority and that cannot be exercised by private owners or purely private-sector legal entities, such as public safety, protection of the environment and others."
The sale of 67 pct of shares in the port there would be no guarantee of a real ability to continue state supervision, it added.
 New Parliament president launches hunt for extra office space in Parliament buildingParliament President Nikos Voutsis on Monday carried out on-the-spot inspections throughout the Parliament building in a hunt for potential extra office space to meet increased demand in the now eight-party Parliament.
Voutsis has apparently received dozens of requests from political party leaders, former prime ministers and Parliament presidents asking for offices in the central building.
Wanting to see for himself what spaces were available, Voutsis conducted inspections of potentially suitable areas, even visiting the Parliament basements.
Office space is needed to house the newly elected MPs of the Centrists' Union party, who entered Parliament for the first time, as well as former prime minister Antonis Samaras, who is still an MP, and SYRIZA's Parliamentary rapporteurs.
 Greece to receive 2 bln euros in EU funds for NSRF programsThe Greek economy will receive two billion euros in the form of EU funds by the end of October to implement programs of the 2007-2013 periods, Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis told journalists after a meeting with EU's Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu on Monday.
Stathakis said the EU will take over the payment of 5 pct of Greece's participation in the relevant programs, removing need for national co-financing for the aforementioned period.
On her side, Cretu added that in the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) for 2014-2020, the EU's advance payment ("pre-financing") will double to 14 pct from 7 pct and noted that it is now a matter of political will and responsibility to design the programs that will better utilize these funds.
"We worked very hard to put these proposals on the table; they are as exceptional because the situation is Greece is exceptional. I went to the European Parliament to defend them and I am calling now for their swift adoption, as we know that this money is needed now," she added.
 Banks recapitalization is part of the economy's normalization, Katseli saysThe president of Hellenic Bank Association and National Bank governor Louka Katseli on Monday in a meeting with the National Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) said she is in favour of second business opportunities and the settlement of bad loans.
She added that capital controls will be lifted early 2016.
Katseli underlined that the banks recapitalization will be made in the framework of the normalization of the economy which has to be followed by the return of deposits in the Greek banks.
The president of ESEE raised a series of banking problems that enterprises have to face, including the high cost of e-banking services, the extremely high commission on debit and credit cards for both consumers and traders, even now that the government is trying to promote their use in the framework of a new tax policy.
 Legislation on non-performing loans to go to Parliament by end October, Economy Minister Stathakis announcesEconomy, Development and Tourism George Stathakis, in statements to reporters on Monday, announced that legislation dealing with the issue of non-performing mortgage and small business loans is due to be tabled in Parliament by the end of October.
"The government will strive for a positive handling of mortgages and the loans of small and medium-sized businesses," he said. According to the minister, mortages and SME business loans accounted for roughly 35 pct of non-performing loans.
 Sixth 'Micro&Nano Conference' underway in Glyfada from Oct. 4-7The sixth in a series of conferences on the latest developments in micro-nanoelectronics, nanotechnologies and MEMs - "Micro&Nano 2015" - will be held in the Athens suburb of Glyfada on October 4-7, organised by the "Micro&Nano" Scientific Society. The conference, which is held every three years, will this year take place at the Fenix Hotel on the Athens coast.
The Conference aims at gathering together in an interactive forum all scientists and engineers working in the field and to stimulate discussions in recent achievements and new developments in this rapidly evolving area. One of the key objectives of the Conference is to promote collaboration and partnership between different academia, research and industry players in the field.
This year the Conference is organised together with the International Symposium on Testing and Measurements (ISTM 2015), in collaboration with the Demokritos research centre Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA).
The main speaker will be Prof. Sokrates T. Pantelides from Vanderbilt University in the United States, who will speak on his paper 'Memristive Materials and Devices - A New Frontier' and be presented with an award for his contribution to the field and his support of related activities in Greece.
An award will also be given to researcher Elisavet Tsoi for her contribution to the development of silicon processing technology at the Institute of Microelectronics of NCSR Demokritos.
This is the 15th anniversary since the start of the Micro&Nano conferences in the year 2000. The last one was held in 2012 in Crete.
 Greek stocks end strongly up, banks soarA spectacular rebound of bank share prices helped the composite index of Athens Stock Exchange to move strongly higher on Monday. Traders said market sentiment was encouraged by a positive climate prevailing in international markets.
The bank index jumped 22.15 pct after falling by 30.67 pct last week. The composite index jumped 4.07 pct to end at 667.09 points. The Large Cap index soared 5.40 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.57 pct higher. Turnover was an improved 32.369 million euros, with a volume of 148,623,523.
Alpha Bank (25 pct), Piraeus Bank (24.65 pct), National Bank (20.55 pct) and Eurobank (20 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Athens Water (0.35 pct) and Motor Oil (0.09 pct) were the only blue chips to end lower.
Among market sectors, Banks (22.15 pct), Financial Services (7.28 pct) and Telecoms (6.60 pct) scored big gains, while Insurance (1.35 pct) and Technology (1.29 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 62 to 32 with another 13 issues unchanged. Alpha Bank (25 pct), Piraeus Bank (24.65 pct) and National Bank (20.55 pct) were top gainers, while Trastor (17.14 pct), MIG Real Estate (13.45 pct) and Logismos (10 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 7.41 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 7.51 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.97 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.56 pct. Turnover totaled 5.0 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.137 pct from 0.140 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.074 pct from 0.076 pct, the six-month rate was unchanged at 0.027 pct, the three-month rate eased to -0.046 pct from -0.043 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at -0.113 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.42 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,685 contracts with 10,437 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 46,610 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (16,476), followed by National Bank (11,079), Piraeus Bank (7,903), Eurobank (8,717), OTE (709), PPC (542), OPAP (257), Mytilineos (127), Hellenic Petroleum (146), GEK (156), Ellaktor (147), MIG (68), Hellenic Exchanges (45) and Titan (42).
 Dialogue of Civilizations at Rhodes forum 2015The 13th annual World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" will take place on the Greek island of Rhodes on October 8-11, 2015. The theme of this year will be "The World Beyond Global Disorder."
The world's most renowned intellectuals will try to explore the most pressing global challenges which are source of economic, cultural and political conflicts. Leadings experts will discuss on these subjects during the conference, organized in six plenary sessions and four workshops.
The conference will host Vaclav Klaus, economist and former president of Czech Republic and the Russian philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan. Ali Allawi, former minister of the Republic of Iraq will share a stage with the Palestinian scientist Author Mazin Qumsiyeh to discuss about multiple crisis that are occurring in West Asia and North Africa and explore routes toward freedom and democracy in the region.
 Two children's bodies washed ashore on Kos islandThe body of a baby in a state of decomposition was washed up on the Grek island of Kos on Monday. In the same sea region, another body of a boy between 3 and 5 years old was also found.
His body has been transferred to the hospital of Kos.
 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 was divided to William C. Campbell, Satoshi Omura for thier discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites" and Youyou Tu "for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria".
 Journalists at MEGA television channel hold six-hour work stoppage over wage cutsJournalists at the privately-owned MEGA television channel launched a six-hour work stoppage from 18:00 until midnight on Monday, following a decision by the Athens journalists' union ESHEA, in protest against a new round of planned pay cuts.
 Sirens to go off throughout Greece on Tuesday in civil defence exerciseWarning sirens will go off in tests throughout Greece on Tuesday, as part of the nationwide civil defence exercise "Parmenion", the Greek Police said on Monday.
At 11:00 am on Tuesday morning, the sirens will sound intermittently and at differing sound levels for 60 seconds, until 11:05 am, when an uninterrupted siren will sound for another 60 seconds.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: 48 prior actions for 2 billion euros
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Harsh budget
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Who can avoid 67 years and early pensions
ESTIA: Trivialization with prior actions
ETHNOS: Punishment for early pensions
NAFTEMPORIKI: Changes in tax punishment
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