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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-03-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Athens News Agency keeps you up to date since 1903
Weekend News Bulletin
Tuesday March 15, 2016
 Possible to have deal with institutions by March 25, says FinMin officialIt is possible to achieve an agreement with Greece's creditors on the country's first program review by March 25, a finance ministry official said on Sunday, following a meeting between the government's economic team and the heads of the institutions.
According to the official, the two sides have the same target on the revenues expected from reforms in taxation, but disagree on the details. Greece submitted a counterproposal to the creditors' request to lower the indirect tax-free threshold from 9,545 euros to 7,000 euros, which is being examined by technical teams. "We don't want to lower the tax-free threshold, but if it is lowered by 100-200 euros it will be a success," the official said.
At the same time, the government wants to increase taxes for incomes of around 30,000 euros, while the institutions want to lower it, while the self-employed will be included in the tax scales of the employees and pensioners, but without a tax-free threshold. The government is hoping to avoid taxing farmers with 20 pct tax rates for 2016 and 26 pct for 2017.
Incomes from rents will be taxed according to the agreement signed in August which foresees an increase to 15 pct from 11 pct for incomes up to 12,000 and to 35 pct from 33 pct for over 12,000 euros. The government has proposed a tax rate of 40 pct for incomes over 45,000euros. There will also be a separate tax rate for the solidarity tax which will reach a maximum of 10 pct.
Concerning the fiscal gap, the European Commission and the IMF have set an indicative target, although they still disagree on the issue. Greece believes that, apart from the social security and tax reforms, the undecided measures for the period up to 2018 total less than 1 pct of GDP. The two sides also disagree on the macroeconomic scenario, the official said.
 Greece says 44,035 refugees were in its territory on SundayThe ministry of migration policy said on Sunday 44,035 refugees were in Greece's territory, with 8,904 located on the islands of the eastern Aegean, 10,987 in the region of Attica and 12,000 stranded in Idomeni, in northern Greece.
According to the data, the islands of Chios, Samos, Lesvos, Leros, Rhodes, Symi, Megisti, Kos, Farmakonisi, Patmos, Kalymnos and Samothraki registered 2,702 new arrivals of refugees and migrants on Sunday who are hosted in hot spots and other camps. The majority (5,310) are on Lesvos, while Chios and Samos had 2,561 and 410 people respectively.
In the region of Attica, 4,166 people are housed in the old airport facilities of Ellinikon and another 3,300 are in Piraeus port.
Central Greece is accommodating 1,102 refugees, while the majority (23,042) in northern Greece and specifically at the makeshift camp of Idomeni (12,000). The former military camp of Mazaraki in Kilkis accommodates 3,640 refugees and Nea Karvali 3,370.
 Greece's Ambassador to Madrid passes away unexpectedlyGreece's Ambassador to Madrid, Nikolaos Pazios, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday morning, the foreign ministry announced and expressed its deep condolences to his family.
"The Foreign Ministry mourns the unexpected loss of its Ambassador to Madrid, Nikolaos Pazios. Pazios, recently promoted to the highest rank of the Diplomatic hierarchy, did the utmost honor to the homeland, wherever he served, was an excellent Diplomat, an exceptional public official with profound belief in Democracy, a model and source of inspiration for all those who were fortunate enough to know him and who, today, cannot believe the news of his untimely passing," the ministry stated.
"Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and the whole of the political and service leadership of the Foreign Ministry, as well as all of Nikolaos Pazios' colleagues, express deep condolences to his family," it added.
Ambassador Nikolaos Pazios entered the Diplomatic Service of the Foreign Ministry in 1982 and served at Greece's Embassies in Paris, Bucharest and the Vatican. His postings included Consul General in Paris, Ambassador to Albania, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Directorate, and Ambassador to Madrid.
 Alt. Defence minister visits Schisto's refugee relocation campAlternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas visited the refugee relocation camp of Schisto, in Piraeus, on Sunday to inspect first-hand the living conditions offered to the people who are accommodated in the former Stefanaki military camp.
Vitsas expressed his satisfaction for the effectiveness of the Armed Forces who set up the camp as part of the efforts to manage the refugee-migration crisis.
 UN human rights chief praises Greece for efforts to manage refugee crisisThe United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, hailed Greece's efforts to manage the refugee crisis in the organization's annual report, while also expressing concern for the effects of closed borders on the wellbeing of refugees.
"I acknowledge the generosity with which Germany welcomed around a million people last year, and the efforts of Greece, throughout 2015, to take a humane approach, avoiding detention and pushbacks at sea," Price Al-Hussein said in a speech before the Human Rights Council's 31st session.
According to diplomatic sources, this statement is significant ahead of the EU summit on March 17-18, which will finalize decisions on EU's migration policy and is the result of actions taken by the foreign ministry and in particular the meeting between the UN human rights chief and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis on March in Geneva.
"Meanwhile, the situation in Greece is dramatic. Migrants are now unable to leave the country because of border restrictions imposed by Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," Prince Al-Hussein said.
"This lamentable approach, together with other measures taken by countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, creates great distress for large numbers of people and compounds pressure on Greece, a country that is already in need of help. Greece has struggled for months to maintain humane conditions of reception for the desperate people who arrive by sea. I pay tribute to the honourable volunteers and activists who are trying to help them," he added.
 Central banker: Talks on Greek debt may start April 15; country will repay 3.5 bln to ECB in JulyThe debate on the reduction of Greece's public debt is likely to start the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) spring meeting on April 15, the country's central banker Yiannis Stounaras said in an interview with Italian paper "Il Sole 24 ore" on Sunday, adding that the country will repay 3.5 billion euros to the ECB in July through the ESM.
Concerning debt talks, the head of the Bank of Greece said: "It is a commitment of the Eurogroup on November 28, 2012, when I was finance minister. According to this commitment, if Greece achieves a primary surplus and if it implements the necessary reforms, then its partners will take some measures to ease the debt. This commitment has not been fulfilled yet. I hope our partners, as well as the IMF, will be in a position to fulfill this commitment, because it's not just a promise, it's an agreement."
Asked by the paper whether Greece will be able to repay its looming debt tranche to the ECB, Stournaras said the government is "negotiating effectively with its partners and there will be an agreement with its creditors for the ESM to repay the tranche, which will the ECB to be repaid."
Commenting on the reforms Greece is implementing, he said they are being implemented not because Greece's creditors request it, but because they are necessary to have a viable social security system. "We need a just taxation system in which all those who can pay will pay what they're due," he added.
He also reassured that the country's lenders are adequately recapitalized and that the banking system is stronger now than in the past, as the CET1 and capital adequacy ratio (pro forma) indicators are approaching 18.2 pct, which is the second highest in the eurozone after Finland, which is at 20 pct.
He reiterated however, that non-performing loans remain a big challenge and that the government and the banks must take hard but necessary measures so that banks can achieve the ambitious target of reducing them.
 Patras carnival ends with revelers dancing in the rainOver 30,000 carnival revelers ignored the continuous rain and joined the main parade on Sunday which closed this year's Patras Carnival. The big parade started at 14.00 and concluded shortly before 19.00 and follows yesterday's smaller night parade of revelers who danced and sung in the streets.
King Carnival, traditionally a grand, spectacular and satiric figure which opens the parade, was wearing a top hat, smoking a cigar and holding Greece's three bailout deals in his two hands.
Numerous floats followed behind with themes inspired among others by the ongoing economic crisis, such as the "Political cohabitation agreement" float, which consists of two figures representing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem sitting relaxed on a couch.
The Carnival climaxed with the traditional burning of King Carnival at the old port, which was accompanied by a fireworks display. Celebrations will continue with a two-hour concert by the band Passepartout and four-member Greek band Alcatrash.
 Weather ForecastRain, scattered storms and a drop in temperature are forecast for Clean Monday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Rain and possibly storms in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 5C-11C. Clouds and scattered rain in the western parts which will ease in the afternoon, with temperatures between 9C-15C. Rain and storms in the eastern parts with temperatures ranging from 12C-16C. Clouds, scattered rain and possibly storms over the islands, 10C-16C. Clouds and rain expected in Athens, 9C-14C. Clouds and rain in Thessaloniki, 8C-11C.
 Athens Headlines at a glanceETHNOS: The unknown war for the debt restructuring
KATHIMERINI: Businesses and employees hostages to levies and taxes
TO VIMA: He exchanged refugees with measures
PROTO THEMA: 4.3 billion euros in taxes and 120,000 refugees
REAL NEWS: Berlin's double game!
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 30 pct cut in auxiliary pensions
RIZOSPASTIS: The measures that are coming are even worse - Respond with 48-hour strike
KONTRA NEWS: Merkel-Kyriakos [Mitsotakis] don't rush, Alexis isn't over yet
AVGI: Debt is "key"
VRATHINI: They are strangling pensioners
PRIN: Walls of shame by the cynical EU
DEMOKRATIA: The battle with the "beast"!
ESTIA: Tsipras lost the initiative
TO PARON: Turkish policemen on Greek islands!
APOPSI: Minds (and frontiers) wide shut
ROAD OF THE LEFT: The government of Tsipras trades on humanism
I EPOCHI: Europe: A dark continent
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