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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-04-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 20 April 2016 Issue No: 5155

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM and Angela Merkel discussed conclusion of Greek review on the phone, sources say
  • [02] Gov't plans new actions to attract foreign investments
  • [03] Negotiation at technical level in the final stage, estimates gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili
  • [04] Greece and institutions can conclude first review 'in a very short time', Dombrovskis says
  • [05] Negotiations between gov't and institutions resume on Tuesday
  • [06] Greek gov't unveils new draft tax legislation
  • [07] FM Kotzias visits Paris
  • [08] Refugee crisis discussed between Greek-German Defence ministers
  • [09] Serbian President says Greece and Serbia facing consequences of refugee crisis
  • [10] Refugees' transfer from Piraeus depends on works at Skaramangas hosting facilities, Shipping Min Dritsas tells ANA-MPA
  • [11] EU Commissioner Stylianides approves financial aid for improvement of refugees living conditions in Greece
  • [12] Norwegian Immigration Minister Listhaug visits Lesvos
  • [13] Queen Rania of Jordan to visit Lesvos next week
  • [14] 'We become the voices of the people that need us,' Behrakis tells ANA-MPA on winning Pulitzer
  • [15] PM congratulates Pulitzer-winning Greek photojournalists on award
  • [16] Gate E2 in Piraeus almost cleared, refugees and migrants moved to nearby warehouse
  • [17] 106 migrants and refugees arrive at northern Aegean islands
  • [18] 54,062 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Tuesday
  • [19] ND unveils draft of new charter ahead of party's 10th conference
  • [20] Dogfights over the eastern Aegean between Greek and Turkish fighter jets
  • [21] Former minister Gerasimos Arsenis passes away at 85
  • [22] PM Tsipras, opposition parties send condolences to family of late minister Arsenis
  • [23] End of double name transliterations in IDs and passports
  • [24] Public finances in 2016 will be better than expected, Gov't VP Dragasakis says
  • [25] Energy minister discusses cooperation in energy with Edison executives
  • [26] Greek management consultants less optimistic in Q1
  • [27] Demand for business loans remained low in Q1, BoG report
  • [28] Ten Greek startups travel to Berlin
  • [29] Ryanair Commercial Chief's statements ' insulting and unacceptable', says FEDHATTA President Tsilidis
  • [30] PPC to begin pilot operation of new power unit in Rhodes by end-2016
  • [31] Greek merchant shipping fleet down in numbers and capacity in Feb
  • [32] Industrial turnover index down 15.1 pct in Feb
  • [33] Sarantis Group says sales up 19.54 pct in Q1
  • [34] Container traffic in Piraeus port up 9.6 pct in Q1
  • [35] Greek stocks edge higher
  • [36] Greek bond market closing report
  • [37] ADEX closing report
  • [38] Ancient graves unearthed in southern Athens to be preserved, made accessible to visitors
  • [39] Patti Smith returning to Athens for one night on June 25
  • [40] Opening hours of Athens' stores during Easter holidays
  • [41] Private sector GSEE announces 48-hour general strike
  • [42] Municipal workers hold work stoppage on Tuesday
  • [43] Scuffle breaks out between Afghan migrants in Piraeus
  • [44] Mostly fair on Wednesday
  • [45] The Tuesday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM and Angela Merkel discussed conclusion of Greek review on the phone, sources say

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the progress in negotiations to conclude the first review of the Greek programme during a telephone call held on Tuesday, Greek government sources revealed.

    They said the prime minister relayed Greece's positions concerning the better-than-expected performance of the Greek economy that Eurostat is expected on announce on Thursday, noting that this must be taken into account in the final outcome of the review.

    [02] Gov't plans new actions to attract foreign investments

    Reforming a regulatory framework to attract foreign investments is one of the goals aimed by the Greek Economy ministry, along with a new development law, Lois Lambriani-dis, secretary-general of Strategic and Private Investments of Economy ministry said on Tuesday.

    Addressing a forum on attracting investments, Lambrianidis said the government was expecting the go-ahead signal by the institutions to present a new development law which will be accompanied by amendments to an existing legislation over attracting foreign investments. These amendments will focus on strategic investments, business centers and a immigration code (allowing foreign citizens to invest and stay in the country).

    Lambrianidis also referred to the seven innovations of the new development law:

    1. putting a ceiling on state support offered to an investment plan

    2. introducting special support categories (export, merger, employment, sectors, special regions, industrial zones, high added value)

    3. new funding tools, loan guarantees, capital participation

    4. offering tax breaks

    5. state support will reach 70 pct of allowed percentage of Regional Support Chart

    6. simplifying procedures to combat bureaucracy and

    7. consultation with more than 70 agencies in drafting the new legislation.

    Lambrianidis said an economic crisis led to a large-scale disinvestment in the country and noted that Greece needed at least 70 billion euros to bring the private economy's fixed capital back to 2010 levels. "Therefore, a new development law must help in creating the necessary trend of attracting new investments. It is the only way to escape from a vicious cycle of under-development," he noted.

    He acknowledged that the new development law would not be able to change the country's course all by itself but it could give a clear signal of the direction and could become a tool to achieving the country's development vision combined with other actions. Lambrianidis said the development law was fully harmonized with a Growth Strategy currently drafted by the government and was expected to be completed by June.

    [03] Negotiation at technical level in the final stage, estimates gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili

    Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said that the government estimates that the negotiation at technical groups' level is in the final stage and this agreement may become the basis for the completion of the Greek programme's review, during her briefing to the press.

    Gerovassili said that the European institutions returned to Athens on Tuesday and IMF's representative will arrive in Athens on Wednesday to participate in the deliberations.

    She said that the messages from abroad say that the review must be completed and stability to prevail and underlined that at this moment the government is not interested in the political cost but in the country and the Greek people's benefit.

    Asked if the possibility of additional measures is a red line for the government, Gerovassili said that the existing agreement foresees that if the targets are not met then additional measures will be imposed. "However, to discuss today for measures in case 2018 primary surplus target is not met, makes no sense and it is not good for the economy and destabilises the economic climate" said Gerovassili.

    [04] Greece and institutions can conclude first review 'in a very short time', Dombrovskis says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    Greece and the institutions are close to a conclusion of the Greek review, European Commission Vice President for the Euro Valdis Dombrovskis said during a press conference on Tuesday. The Commissioner had been asked whether a staff level agreement could be concluded before the Orthodox Easter on May 1.

    "During the last weeks we have been making substantial progress with the Greek authorities. It is the Commission's assessment that we can be close to a concluding of the first review," Dombrovskis said in his reply, noting that this could be done "in a very short time" if all the sides were ready to a "final push".

    According to Dombrovskis, the Commission was not putting any deadline on when the first review needs to be completed, noting that this was originally meant to happen last autumn.

    "Clearly we are running delays but what matters is implementation of the commitments in the Memorandum of Understanding and that is the Commission's benchmark for completing and reaching staff level agreement," he said.

    The Commissioner noted that good progress had been made in Washington and there was now an agreement in principle on using the Commission's figures as a baseline scenario, which the missions in Athens needed to explore further. He said they would also look at possible contingency measures "in case the more pessimistic IMF scenario were to materialise," adding that this was just a broad outline of the ideas that needs to be developed.

    [05] Negotiations between gov't and institutions resume on Tuesday

    The negotiations between the Greek government and the institutions resume on Tuesday after a short interruption due to IMF's Spring meeting in Washington.

    According to information, IMF's representative Delia Velculescu will not be present in Tuesday's meetings but will be in Athens on Wednesday.

    The talks will be interrupted again on Thursday in order both sides to attend Eurogroup's meeting on Friday in Amsterdam.

    [06] Greek gov't unveils new draft tax legislation

    The Greek government on Tuesday unveiled a new draft tax bill envisaging new scales and rates on income tax, higher tax rates on income from rents, introducing a 45 pct tax rate on all incomes above 35,000 euros and raising a tax rate on dividends to 15 pct from 10 pct. The draft bill also introduces a tax-exempt ceiling of 9,100 euros.

    Under the draft bill, the government seeks to introduce a 22 pct tax scale for income up to 20,000 euros, a 29 pct tax scale on incomes from 20,001-30,000 euros, a 37 pct tax scale on income from 30,001-40,000 euros and 45 pct tax scale on incomes from 40,000+ euros. The new tax scales will reduce taxes by around 2,000 euros on annual incomes from wages and pensions up to 20,000 euros. The tax scale will be used for incomes declared by the self-employed without the tax-exempt ceiling of 9,100 euros.

    The draft bill also changes the scale of a special solidarity contribution. For incomes up to 12,000 euros a zero contribution, from 12,001-20,000 euros a 2.2 pct scale, from 20,001-30,000 euros a 5.0 pct, from 30,001-40,000 euros a 6.5 pct scale, from 40,001-65,000 euros a 7.5 pct scale, from 65,001 to 220,000 euros a 9.0 pct scale and from 220,001+ euros a 10 pct ?scale.

    Tax rates on incomes from rents will rise from 11 pct to 15 pct (for incomes up to 12,000 euros annually), to 35 pct from 33 pct on incomes from 12,001-35,000 euros and to 45 pct on incomes from 35,000+ euros.

    [07] FM Kotzias visits Paris

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is paying a two-day visit to Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, Kotzias will have a private meeting, talks and a working dinner with French Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for European Affairs Harlem D?sir, and on Wednesday he will meet with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, at the French Foreign Office (Quai d 'Orsay). After the talks, joint statements will be made to the press.

    During his stay in Paris, the Foreign Minister will also have contacts with academics and members of think tanks.

    [08] Refugee crisis discussed between Greek-German Defence ministers

    The management of the refugee flows was the main issue discussed in a meeting between Defence Minister Panos Kammenos and German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen in Athens on Tuesday, the ministry said.

    The two ministers said refugee flows from the Turkish coast to Greek islands have been significantly limited, with von der Leyen noting that the cooperation between Greek and German coast guards is bearing fruit.

    "When there are good intensions, there are results," Kammenos said after the meeting.

    Commenting on the NATO mission in the Aegean, the German minister said all three countries want to achieve the same goal and overcome any obstacles. She also said the experience gained from NATO's mission in the Aegean will be used in similar efforts in the sea area between Italy and Libya.

    Von der Leyen also denounced migrant traffickers for their inhuman behavior towards refugees and migrants, sending a strong message against illegal migration.

    [09] Serbian President says Greece and Serbia facing consequences of refugee crisis

    When the refugee crisis hit Europe and heads of state saw it was affecting their popularity, they changed their stance, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told ANA-MPA on Monday, during an unofficial visit to Corfu.

    Nikolic, who was accompanied by ministers of the Serbian government and Serbia's ambassador to Greece, is attending a series of events marking the 100th anniversary since the arrival of Serbian soldiers and citizens on the island during WWI.

    "Greece and Serbia are not responsible for the refugee crisis but are facing the consequences of this issue. So when the problem appeared in Europe ... and some people saw their popularity was falling, then Europe decided to resolve the issue in a different way," he told the news agency.

    He said Europe accepts refugees from war zones, but this principle excludes people who are hungry. "Should one wish to have a war in ones' country to be able to move to another country?" he wondered and expressed his hope that the issue would be better resolved and the EU will assist Greece.

    [10] Refugees' transfer from Piraeus depends on works at Skaramangas hosting facilities, Shipping Min Dritsas tells ANA-MPA

    The transfer of refugees and migrants from the port of Piraeus will continue depending on the progress of the works at Skaramangas hosting facilities, Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas on Tuesday said in statements to ANA-MPA.

    Dritsas noted that more refugees will be probably transferred on Wednesday and Thursday.

    Asked on the protests held at the railway tracks in Idomeni, he said that the police will make renewed efforts to convince these people that this situation cannot continue, and the railway will soon be operational.

    [11] EU Commissioner Stylianides approves financial aid for improvement of refugees living conditions in Greece

    The European Commission announced the granting of 83 million euros within the framework of the new emergency support mechanism, for the improvement of the living conditions of the refugees in Greece.

    The financial assistance will be immediately granted to UNHCR, to the Red Cross and to six international NGOs. These partners will cooperate with Greek NGOs that are well aware of the prevailing condition in Greece.

    European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides signed on Tuesday the first contracts in Athens "We must restore, as soon as possible, decent living conditions for the refugees and migrants in Europe. The financial assistance will be allocated to the humanitarian aid partners that are closely cooperating with the Greek government and the the domestic NGOs in order to safeguard that the assistance will be offered through a coordinated and comprehensive way to reach as many as possible areas." stated Stylianides.

    The financial aid will cover healthcare, nutritional needs and construction of facilities to host refugees and special facilities for children.

    [12] Norwegian Immigration Minister Listhaug visits Lesvos

    Immigration and Integration Minister of Norway Sylvi Listhaug on Tuesday is paying a visit to Mytilene.

    The Norwegian minister has already visited Moria hotspot and the refugees and migrants hosting center at Kara Tepe.

    Listhaug is visiting Greece to participate in the event "Migration and Refugee flows to Greece" co-organised by the Greek Interior Ministry and the Norwegian Immigration Directorate held in Athens on Monday

    [13] Queen Rania of Jordan to visit Lesvos next week

    Queen Rania, wife of King Abdullah II of Jordan, will visit Lesvos in the beginning of Holy Week at an invitation of the international humanitarian organization International Rescue Committee.

    Her visit was confirmed by the Embassy of Jordan in Athens and the spokesman of the International Rescue Committee. In statements to ANA-MPA, the coordinator of the refugees camp at Kara Tepe, Stavros Myrogiannis, also confirmed the visit.

    According to a report in local newspaper "Lesvos Nea", Queen Rania asked to visit the municipal camp of Kara Tepe on Lesvos, a model camp where hundreds of refugees are hosted, and which has been has been praised for its organization and operation.

    [14] 'We become the voices of the people that need us,' Behrakis tells ANA-MPA on winning Pulitzer

    "The most important thing for me is that we become the voices of the people that need us," photojournalist Yannis Behrakis told ANA-MPA on Tuesday, when asked about the Pulitzer prize won by the Reuters photo staff for their coverage of the refugee crisis.

    The Reuters team was led from Greece by Yannis Behrakis, chief photographer for Greece and Cyprus and the Guardian newspaper's 2015 Agency Photographer of the Year, working with colleagues Alkis Konstantinidis and Alexandros Avramidis. The Reuters photo staff was named as co-winner for breaking news photography, along with Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter of The New York Times.

    "I think this is the first Pulitzer to come to Greece," Behrakis told ANA-MPA. "I am doubly glad because it is professional recognition of a high level, both for me and my team." Talking about the two other Greek photographers that shared the prize, he said they were "amazing, with a lot of talent, a lot of passion and really believe in what they are doing."

    "It is very important what we did this year with these guys. With many personal sacrifices we achieved what we wanted, which was to become the voice of these people that come to this dot of land in the Aegean, seeing it as their last hope. The people on the islands welcomed them, showed them love and us journalists, who were there a very long time, finally became life vests for them. Their voice was heard through our photographs and our stories. In this way we showed what is happening in the world," he said.

    The award-winning photojournalist said that the images of the refugee crisis captured by photojournalists had prompted many people from all around the world to come and help. "Many times people came up to me and said: 'I saw one of your photographs and thought I should come and help."

    Behrakis is currently working with pianist Nikos Laaris on a musical-photo journey that will take place at the Athens Concert Hall next Monday to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders. Laaris will perform Haydn's "Seven Last Words of Christ" while photographs taken by Behrakis during missions to various parts of the world will be shown. Behrakis himself will speak about his personal experiences and refugee accounts recorded by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

    He noted that MSF can use the money raised to "alleviate pain and save lives".

    "I know these people, I have worked with them; I know that some of them have died doing their work," he said.

    [15] PM congratulates Pulitzer-winning Greek photojournalists on award

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday sent a message congratulating three Greek Reuters photojournalists that won the Pulitzer breaking photography award for their coverage of the refugee crisis in Europe.

    The Reuters photo team was led from Greece by Yannis Behrakis, chief photographer for Greece and Cyprus, and his two younger colleagues Alkis Konstantinidis and Alexandros Avramidis

    "The Award of the Pulitzer Prize to three Greek photographers is the greatest success and recognition of their work, which is a jewel and an example for Greek journalism and photography," the prime minister said.

    "With the constant and also sensitive account of the refugee drama through their lenses, the three awarded Greek photographers made the greatest contribution to sensitising global public opinion on the unfolding refugee crisis in the Aegean, and to the recognition of the efforts of the Greek people and the international community for the relief of the refugees," he added.

    "For their contribution and this success I would like to thank them and warmly congratulate them," Tsipras said.

    [16] Gate E2 in Piraeus almost cleared, refugees and migrants moved to nearby warehouse

    Greek authorities completed on Tuesday the move of the majority of the 450 refugees and migrants who had camped at the passenger gate E2 in Piraeus to a port warehouse nearby and to gate E1, as part of the government's plan to clear the port before Orthodox Easter.

    When emptied completely, gate E2 will be cleaned and disinfected by special port cleaning crews.

    Speaking to ANA-MPA this morning, Shipping Ministry Thodoris Dritsas said authorities are also expected to continue transferring people to Skaramangas' hosting center on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the progress being made in the extension of the new center.

    [17] 106 migrants and refugees arrive at northern Aegean islands

    A total of 106 migrants and refugees arrived at the islands of northern Aegean over the last 24 hours.

    More specifically, 40 refugees and migrants arrived at Chios, 66 at Samos and nobody at Lesvos.

    [18] 54,062 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Tuesday

    54,062 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Tuesday including 150 persons that arrived on the Greek islands in the last 24 hours.

    According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 29,284 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 10,257 of them are in Idomeni camp, 14,906 are hosted in the region of Attica (3,286 hosted at Piraeus port), 7,515 on the Greek islands and 2,357 are hosted in different areas in central and southern Greece.

    [19] ND unveils draft of new charter ahead of party's 10th conference

    Main opposition New Democracy on Tuesday unveiled a draft version of a proposed new charter to be approved at the 10th ND Conference on April 22-24, for a period of public consultation, at the website http://synedrio.nd.gr.

    According to a party announcement, ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to send a "hope-bringing political message in reply to the suffocation felt by Greek citizens" at the Conference, which will primarily deal with the organisational and constitutional reforms to the party, in order to make ND a more modern, open and democratic party modeled along European standards.

    A key element of the new charter will be a separation of party and state, with bans on simultaneously holding office in both the party and the government, especially in positions where public funds are managed. Another radical reform will be a ban on the party taking out bank loans and an obligation to keep balanced budgets, while there will be more emphasis in involving party members in the production of policy.

    Other changes concerning the holding and composition of an annual party conference, the maximum term of the party's president and the automatic loss of the party's leadership after losing general elections, as well as greater grass-roots involvement in party tickets.

    The new draft charter, at 5,500 words, is a great deal shorter and, according to ND, simpler to understand and more efficient than the 11,000-word party constitution it is proposing to replace.

    [20] Dogfights over the eastern Aegean between Greek and Turkish fighter jets

    Greek and Turkish fighter jets engaged in dogfights over the eastern Aegean on Monday after the Turkish aircraft entered Athens' FIR without submitting a flight plan.

    According to the Greek National Defence General Staff, four Turkish fighter jets, one CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft and one helicopter entered Athens' FIR in the maritime area between Chios and Samos, recording three violations of air traffic rules, which developed into 26 violations of national airspace in the Aegean.

    Nineteen of these violations were committed by the CN-235 which was monitored by two Greek F-16s during its entire flight from north to south. The first dogfight took place at 14.40 when the Greek Mirage-2000 took off from Skyros to recognize two Turkish aircraft that entered Greek airspace between Chios and Samos. The second one took place when the latter exited Athens' FIR north of Lesvos.

    In all instances, the Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted according to international rules and practices. Two of the Turkish fighter jets were armed.

    [21] Former minister Gerasimos Arsenis passes away at 85

    Greek politician Gerasimos Arsenis, who had served at different ministries under several socialist PASOK governments, passed away at the age of 85 on Tuesday in a private hospital, where he had been admitted about a month ago.

    Arsenis, who was married to the current head of the National Bank of Greece, Louka Katseli, had held the posts of minister of Finance, Education and National Defence between 1984 and 2000. From 1981-1984 he had also served as governor at the Bank of Greece.

    He was born on the island of Kefalonia in 1931 and studied Law at the University of Athens and Economics at MIT.

    [22] PM Tsipras, opposition parties send condolences to family of late minister Arsenis

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed on Tuesday his deep condolences for the passing of former minister Gerasimos Arsenis on Tuesday, noting his political career and contribution to political life.

    "With great sadness I was informed of the passing of Gerasimos Arsenis. Arsenis was a great politician and intellectual who made his mark on the socialist movement, the political life and our country's governance with his ideas and work," Tsipras said in a press release.

    He also hailed his scientific and professional achievements, noting he was "above all, an exemplary man with an honest love and care for the country" who leaves behind "an invaluable heritage of struggles and contribution to society."

    Opposition parties also send their condolences to the family. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis highlighted the important role the late minister played in Greece's public life for decades, noting his decency.

    Communist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas send his condolences to his wife, Louka Katseli, and his family, while PASOK, in which Arsenis was a member for decades, described him as an integral part of the party's history. Party leader Fofi Gennimata also said Arsenis served the socialist movement in pivotal roles.

    Potami spoke of the important role the late minister played in the years after the fall of the Junta, noting he was an academic who affected the debates of his time.

    The Independent Greeks send their condolences to the family, and the Centrists' Union said he left his mark on the years after democracy was reinstated in the country.

    [23] End of double name transliterations in IDs and passports

    The interior and administrative reconstruction ministry decided to abolish the double writing of Greek names or surnames in Latin characters in identity cards and passports and to impose a single transliteration to avoid confusion.

    The decision follows the opinion of the Greek ombudsman who noted that the mandatory writing of full names in Latin characters creates identification problems to people whose data have been transliterated differently in another system. For example, in some cases full names were written in two different ways with the English disjunctive "OR" separating them.

    With the new rules transliteration will follow the new protocol, unless the document holder requests his or her name to be registered according to an existing travel or other document, which he or she must demonstrate.

    Financial News

    [24] Public finances in 2016 will be better than expected, Gov't VP Dragasakis says

    Government Vice President Yiannis Dragasakis estimated that the course of the public finances in 2016 will be better than expected, at an interview to "Kokkino 105,5" radio on Tuesday.

    Asked on the course of the negotiations with the institutions and the possibility of an additional package of measures, Dragasakis said that it is questionable whether it will be requested and that this will be proved by the primary surplus figures that Eurostat will release on Thursday.

    He noted that additional measures are foreseen in the agreement if the planned targets are not met.

    Dragasakis clarified that the government aims the Greek programme's review to be completed as soon as possible with the existing package of measures and afterwards the discussion on the debt to open in order after its conclusion to examine if any additional measures are necessary.

    Moreover, he noted IMF's wrong estimations in the past regarding the course of the Greek economy as well as the differences between the institutions.

    He referred to Germany's wish IMF to remain in the Greek programme as well as its opposition over the opening of a discussion on the Greek debt. "A problem in their relations can't become our problem" he said.

    Finally, Dragasakis ruled out the possibility of early elections.

    [25] Energy minister discusses cooperation in energy with Edison executives

    Energy Minister Panos Skourletis presented the government's policy for the sector and its aim to cover the country's energy needs for businesses and households with safety and low prices, during a meeting with Roberto Poti, Executive Vice-President for Institutional & Regulatory Affairs at Italian utility Edison and the President of Edison Hellas, Ioannis Zissimos, on Tuesday.

    During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues relating to the activities of the Group in Greece in the sectors of hydrocarbons, gas pipelines, but also examined the possibility of extending its participation in the electricity sector, by cooperating with power utility PPC.

    [26] Greek management consultants less optimistic in Q1

    Greek management consultants were less optimistic in their expectations over the medium-term course of Greek economic figures in the first quarter of 2016, a survey by the Hellenic Association of Management Consulting Firms (SESMA) said on Tuesday.

    "We believe that a delay in the first review of the third memorandum combined with the refugee problem created a climate of relative pessimism-inertia, as shown in the survey. Completion of the review and speeding up procedures for a new development law and procedures to implement a new EU financing programme could lead to a reversal of the climate," SESMA said. "The government must realise that economic growth was based both on healthy macroeconomic data and good psychology and the government was lacking on the second leg. The government needs to broadcast positive message with fundamental content".

    The Greek Management Consultants Confidence Index - GMCCI- remained negative in the first quarter (-16.8 pct), falling after a -2.8 pct reading at the end of 2015 and after plunging to -32.9 pct at the end of June 2015. The deterioration was broad, with the biggest quarterly differences recorded in economic growth and private investments. On an annual basis, changes were smaller as the GMCCI index was at -15.5 pct in the first quarter of 2015. The survey stressed that hurdles in business activity remained volatility in the tax system and a high tax burden, followed by bureaucracy. The top five difficulties also included inconsistency of the state mechanism and lack of access to funding.

    SESMA said that the non-performing loans (NPLs) problem should be resolved not horizontally but on portfolio case and recommended that banks should create a common management agency for all large enterprises, with the support of the state and know-how from a large foreign firm. The advantages of this approach included an efficient management of syndicated loans, dealing with a multi-spread market, and concentration around industry champions.

    Mortgage loans could remain under internal management by banks, SESMA said, with the aim of protecting the real estate market and avoid selling loan portfolios at extremely low values. Consumer loans could also remain under internal management offering time for a reprofiling of loans before deciding to sell them to foreign firms. Finally, for small- and medium-sized enterprises, SESMA pointed to a need for new funds and provisions and to offer the management of loans to licensed firms, preferably domestic.

    [27] Demand for business loans remained low in Q1, BoG report

    Demand for bank loans by enterprises remained low in the first quarter of 2016, despite positive estimates made in the previous quarter, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. The central bank, however, maintained its optimism of a slight rebound in demand during the second quarter of the year.

    In the first quarter of 2016, credit standards for loans to non-financial corporations (NFCs) remained broadly unchanged compared with the fourth quarter of 2015, in line with expectations expressed in the previous survey round. Banks expect that credit standards will remain unchanged in the second quarter of 2016, the central bank said its quarterly report, adding thatt the terms and conditions for loans to NFCs remained also unchanged in the first quarter of 2016.

    The demand for loans by NFCs remained broadly unchanged in the first quarter of 2016, despite a small increase in the demand for loans by SMEs. In the previous survey, banks had expressed positive expectations regarding the demand for loans, which however did not materialise. The demand for corporate loans was expected to improve slightly in the second quarter of 2016.

    In the first quarter of 2016, credit standards for loans to households were essentially unchanged compared with the fourth quarter of 2015, in line with expectations expressed in the previous survey round. As regards the expectations for the second quarter of 2016, credit standards for all loans to households are expected to remain unchanged. The terms and conditions for loans to households remained also unchanged in the first quarter of 2016. The demand for housing loans increased somewhat in the first quarter of 2016, in line with expectations expressed in the previous survey round, whilst for consumer credit, the demand remained broadly unchanged. The demand for loans to households was expected to remain unchanged in the second quarter of 2016.

    [28] Ten Greek startups travel to Berlin

    Ten Greek start-up companies had the opportunity to present their work in the German market by participating in the "Greece-Germany Business Forum: Restoring and Navigating for New Trade, Investment and Startups", which took place in Berlin a few days ago.

    The startups that participated were Advantis Medical Imaging involved in the drug market, City Crop and Green Products which are active in the agricultural economy, the energy firm Coccon Modules; Distemicha, Encode, FEAC and Geomiso from the information science and telecommunication field and Think Athens and Beach Republic representing the tourism industry.

    Representatives from the aforementioned startups participated in 35 business meetings with German companies such as Helden International Services, Conabo UG, Investment & Finance Consulting IFC Group, Communications Xperts (GCX), Televantis, Voice Verband der IT Anwender, Hille Consulting, Law office Schneider Stein & Partner and Orka Projektentwicklung GmbH KVI Invest.

    Three of these startups secured a second meeting in Germany. Enterprise Greece Invest & Trade carried out B2B meetings mediating for 10 other Greek companies. The event was held by the Greek- German Commercial and Industrial Chamber and Economist Events.

    [29] Ryanair Commercial Chief's statements ' insulting and unacceptable', says FEDHATTA President Tsilidis

    President of Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (FEDHATTA) Lysandros Tsilidis on Tuesday said the statements made by Ryanair Chief Commercial Officer David O'Brien on the suspension of the airline's flights to Greek destinations were 'unacceptable and insulting', speaking to ANA-MPA.

    Tsilidis urged Ryanair's executives to be more careful in their statements, underlining that Ryanair can only benefit from Greece.

    "Most outrageous is his Constitution-violating reference to the workers' rights and how they claim their rights and above all his reference to conceding control of the country's airspace to neighbouring countries. The only thing the airline has yet to ask for is to govern the country and legislate according to its own interests," concluded Tsilidis

    In an interview published in To Vima newspaper on Sunday, Ryanair's Chief Commercial Officer, David O'Brien, announced the Irish company would cut the summer season flights to Greece two months earlier than planned, starting with the island of Kos. Ryanair's decision would leave Greece without eight flights per day and two months before the end of the season, he said.

    The CCO said the airliner had proposed since early 2014 that the government reduces fees and taxes in the low season, and exempt small airports from the Airport Modernization and Development levy which amounts to 12 euros per passenger, for five years. It also proposed reducing the same tax by 50 pct for Athens' International Airport. In return, the company pledged it could bring an additional two million passengers to Athens and another 3.5 million in regional airports. O'Brien said his company never received an answer, either negative or positive.

    [30] PPC to begin pilot operation of new power unit in Rhodes by end-2016

    Public Power Corporation is expected to begin pilot operation of a new electricity power unit in the island of Rhodes by the end of 2016 and was taking precautionary measures to avoid any electricity disruptions in the island during the summer.

    PPC officials said that the utility has invested tens of millions to strengthen the electricity grid in Rhodes to ensure the financial and reliable operation of the system and was investing more the build and operate a new electricity power unit in the island.

    [31] Greek merchant shipping fleet down in numbers and capacity in Feb

    Greek merchant shipping fleet fell both in numbers and capacity in February, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday. The volume of the fleet fell 0.4 pct in the month to 1,844 vessels, compared with the same month last year, while total capacity of the Greek fleet fell 0.7 pct to 44,669,433 gt.

    [32] Industrial turnover index down 15.1 pct in Feb

    Industrial turnover composite index dropped 15.1 pct in February this year, compared with the same month in 2015, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, attributed this development in the composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) to a 3.2 pct increase in the turnover index in the mining sector and a 15.4 pct drop in the manufacturing turnover index. The domestic market turnover index fell 11.8 pct in February, while the external market index dropped 19.3 pct.

    [33] Sarantis Group says sales up 19.54 pct in Q1

    Sarantis Group on Tuesday said its consolidated sales totaled 66.21 million euros in the first quarter of 2016, from 55.39 million last year, an increase of 19.54 pct, reflecting a strengthening of the group's position in the market and the additional of new products.

    Sales in Greece grew 15.95 pct to 24.30 million euros, while sales abroad accounted for 63.30 pct of Group sales, up 21.73 pct to 41.91 million euros. EBITDA rose 44.40 pct to 5.31 million euros and EBITDA margin jumped to 8.02 pct from 6.64 pct in the first quarter of 2015.

    Pre-tax and interest earnings amounted to 4.23 million euros in the January-March period, up 54.56 pct from 2015 while EBIT margin grew to 6.38 pct from 4.94 pct.

    Sarantis Group said its shareholders approved a board plan to pay a 0.16 euros per share dividend to shareholders.

    [34] Container traffic in Piraeus port up 9.6 pct in Q1

    Container traffic grew 9.6 pct in the first quarter of 2016 in the piers II and III operated by Piraeus Container Terminal, a subsidiary of Cosco Pacific Ltd, with traffic totaling 806.9 thousand containers, up from 736.4 thousand in the corresponding period last year.

    In March, the terminal operated 275.1 thousand container boxes, up 3.2 pct from March last year, a trend reflecting the fact that several shipping companies were opting the port of Piraeus as their logistics hub for the transport of their containers to east and central Europe.

    Company officials, however, said that the railway track in Idomeni remained closed for around 31 days despite promises made by authorities that the track will be operational again. This has led the company to seek alternative transport routes, via Bulgaria and Romania, at a significant cost for the company, of around 6,000 euros per train.

    [35] Greek stocks edge higher

    Greek stocks edged higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Market sentiment was buoyed by the comments of European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis that a review of the Greek programme was near completion and that Greece's fiscal performance in 2015 was much better than expected.

    The composite index of the market rose 0.78 pct to end at 578.85 points, with the Large Cap index rising 0.28 pct and the Mid Cap index ending 0.65 pct lower. Turnover was a low 60.142 million euros in a volume of 110,839,279.

    Ellaktor (9.73 pct), Mytilineos (5.57 pct) and Motor Oil (4.15 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (2.0 pct), OTE (1.63 pct) and Titan (1.13 pct) suffered heavy losses. Among market sectors, Raw Materials (5.52 pct) and Oil (3.63 pct) scored gains, while Insurance (2.50 pct) and Telecoms (1.63 pct) suffered losses.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 64 to 36 with another 19 issues unchanged. Akritas (20 pct), Medicon (20 pct) and Vioter (18.42 pct) were top gainers, while Revoil (9.85 pct), Sarantopoulos Mills (9.47 pct) and Livanis Publications (9.21 pct) were top losers.

    [36] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 8.94 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 8.92 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 9.12 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.18 pct. Turnover was an improved 32 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to -0.011 pct from -0.012 pct, the nine-month rate was -0.072 pct, the six-month rate was -0.139 pct, the three-month rate rose to -0.250 pct from -0.249 pct and the one-month rate was -0.343 pct.

    [37] ADEX closing report

    The May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.13 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,395 contracts with 16,215 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 44,301 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (14,646), followed by Alpha Bank (3,793), Piraeus Bank (10,236), Eurobank (8,697), MIG (2,817), OTE (342), PPC (1,205), OPAP (668), Hellenic Exchanges (151), Viohalco (370), Mytilineos (238), Hellenic Petroleum (295), Motor Oil (211), GEK (172), Ellaktor (139), Intralot (151) and Athens Water (86).

    General News

    [38] Ancient graves unearthed in southern Athens to be preserved, made accessible to visitors

    Greece's Central Archaeological Council decided on Tuesday to leave the dozens of shackled skeletons unearthed in an ancient grave in southern Athens last month where they were discovered and find ways to make them visible and accessible to visitors.

    The extraordinary discovery was made by archaeologists digging in the area of the Faliron Delta, a coastal area in southern Athens which served as a port for Athens in classical age. The ancient mass grave containes 80 bodies, placed side by side, some of whom are shackled.

    The importance of the findings, which were found at a depth of a mere 2.5 meters, is that they can be safely dated, because of the presence of two trefoil jugs discovered nearby, placing them at the third quarter of the 7th century BC. This date may connect the skeletons with the Cylonian affair.

    The excavation area is located inside the construction site of a new Cultural Centre of Stavros Niarchos Foundation which was designed by famous Italian architect Renzo Piano. The cultural centre will consist of a park of total area

    170,000 square metres and will accommodate the buildings of the National Library and the National Opera. It will also consist of a covered parking lot for 1,000 cars, a water channel and three auxiliary buildings.

    The Council's members came to this decision after hearing three different proposals that included reburying the findings or removing blocks with skeletons to a different area.

    [39] Patti Smith returning to Athens for one night on June 25

    "Proto-punk" singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith will be returning to Athens after three years this year for a single concert at the Piraeus Academy venue in Athens' Keramikos district on June 25. Three years after her appearance in the city's ancient Herod Atticus Odeon, as part of the Hellenic Festival, the American artist is coming back to perform the whole of her monumental 1975 debut album "Horses" and a selection of her favourite songs.

    She will be backed by original band members Lenny Kaye and Jay Daugherty, who are accompanying her on a tour of Europe that will also take in Greece.

    [40] Opening hours of Athens' stores during Easter holidays

    The Athens Trade Association on Tuesday announced the opening hours for stores during the Easter holidays starting from Thursday 21 April instead of Wednesday 20 April that was initially announced .

    According to the announcement, shops in Athens will be open Thursday 21 and Friday 22 April from 09:00-21:00.

    Saturday 23 April from 09:00-18:00

    Sunday 24 April from 11:00-18:00

    Holy Monday to Holy Thursday from 09:00-21:00

    Holy Friday from 13:00-19:00 and

    Holy Saturday from 09:00 to 15:00

    All stores in Athens will remain closed on Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and Tuesday following the government decision to transfer May 1 (Labour Day) holiday that coincides with Easter Sunday to Tuesday.

    The shops will open again on Wednesday 4 May and will follow the ordinary opening hours.

    [41] Private sector GSEE announces 48-hour general strike

    Private sector union GSEE announced on Tuesday it will hold a 48-hour general strike when the government tables the social security reform bill in parliament, to protest the "unfair and ineffective" measures included.

    "GSEE has already decided to hold a 48-hour general strike which will take place when the [government's] tricks end and the final bill is tabled in parliament, with a timetable for a vote. For the federation, these initial measures (as worse are expected), are unfair, unequal and ineffective, this is why the fight is the only way," the union said in a press release.

    [42] Municipal workers hold work stoppage on Tuesday

    Municipal Employees Federation (POE-OTA) called a work stoppage on Tuesday from 11:30 until the end of the morning shift.

    They will also stage a rally outside the Interior ministry, at 12:00.

    POE-OTA protests against pension reforms.

    [43] Scuffle breaks out between Afghan migrants in Piraeus

    A scuffle broke out between Afghan migrants in Piraeus port on Tuesday, resulting in the minor injury of one of them, who was transported to the "Tzanio" hospital for treatment.

    Police detained two Afghan nationals for the incident.

    Weather forecast

    [44] Mostly fair on Wednesday

    Mostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 09C-24C. Mostly fair in the western parts with temperatures between 09C-25C. Scattered clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 10C-28C. Mostly fair over the Aegean islands and Crete, 12C-27C. Sunny in Athens, 13C-27C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 12C-24C.

    [45] The Tuesday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    AVGHI: Nothing more than those agreed

    DIMOKRATIA: Guillotine after Easter

    ETHNOS: A la carte settlements on bad loans

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Tax free threshold on IMF measures

    ESTIA: Negotiation-a constant failure

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: We will have a political problem

    IMERISSIA: Out of time

    KATHIMERINI: Once again in the accident zone

    TA NEA: The train of fear

    KONTRA NEWS: Dangerous games at Idomeni

    NAFTEMPORIKI: The deregulation of bad loans in installments

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