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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-01-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Labour ministry unveils electronic prescription system
  • [02] Government meeting on Law School occupation by migrants
  • [03] EU blocks airline merger
  • [04] Pharmacies continue strike
  • [05] Stocks jump 2.18 pct 

  • [01] Labour ministry unveils electronic prescription system

    All social insurance funds, including branches of the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA), will be hooked up to the electronic prescription system by May 1 this year, the Labour and Social Insurance ministry announced during a press conference on Wednesday.

    The press conference was held to present a cooperation memorandum between the ministry and the National Bank of Greece for a 1.5 million euro donation from the bank in order to develop the Electronic Prescription System.

    The system is also scheduled to be extended to all branches of the National Health System and all providers of medical services and pharmaceuticals by the year 2017.

    Participating in the press conference were Labour Minister Louka Katseli, Alternate Labour Minister George Koutroumanis, NBG governor Apostolos Tamvakakis and Social Insurance General Secretary Athina Dretta.

    Katseli stressed that the new system would be a major reform allowing effective control and rationalisation of spending and transparency of agencies in the social insurance system, ensuring its viability and the provision of decent pensions.

    She stressed that the working of the social insurance system until now had been "an example of mismanagement, lawlessness and deviation".

    The minister pointed out that the pilot phase of the programme as implemented in the OAEE fund for the self-employed had resulted in a 45 percent reduction in pharmaceutical spending compared to the same period in the previous year, reducing the average cost of a prescription from 80 euro to 48 euro and the total number of prescriptions from 950,000 to 620,000 in the October-December period of 2010.

    The extension of the system to all social insurance funds from May 1 is expected to yield savings of around 1.4 billion euro during the year 2011, Katseli announced and thanked the NBG for its support.

    Koutroumanis said the system was expected to bring benefits on many levels - including that of excessive use of medicine that was harmful to health. He predicted a better service for the general public, with improved access to necessary medication, and forecast that annual spending on drugs will have been reduced from 10.6 billion euro to seven billion euro by the year 2012.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [02] Government meeting on Law School occupation by migrants

    ANA-MPA - Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday asked that the laws be enforced and that the rule of law be protected, while urging all sides to shoulder their responsibilities, during a government meeting concerning the occupation of an Athens Law School building by economic migrants demanding legal residence for all migrants in Greece.

    ANA-MPA -After the meeting, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou was due to meet Athens University Rector Theodosis Pelegrinis late on Wednesday evening. According to sources, the minister intended to convey a message that the rector had an obligation to apply the laws and take action if he was aware that the law governing university asylum rules was being violated.

    ANA-MPA -Participants in the meeting, which began immediately after that of ruling PASOK's Parliamentary Group, included Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis, Deputy Labour Minister Anna Dalara, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, Diamantopoulou and the premier's aide Reggina Vartzeli.

    ANA-MPA -Meanwhile, the appeals court prosecutors' office on Wednesday announced the launch of a preliminary inquiry into the occupation of the building by illegal migrants, to determine whether the university's rector failed to take necessary action to prevent the occupation and were guilty of breach of duty.

    ANA-MPA -Under Greek law, university premises enjoy 'asylum' and are off limits to police unless they are specifically invited by university authorities or when a serious crime is being committed. For many people this law, originally designed to protect free thinking within universities from authoritarian state interference, has since been open to various kinds of abuses, including criminal actions, that have little to do with freedom of thought for academics.

    ANA-MPA -Along those lines, main opposition New Democracy announced plans to table a draft bill for the abolition of university asylum laws as these exist to day, on the grounds that these were outdated and no longer served any purpose.

    ANA-MPA -Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis, on the other hand, urged university authorities to adopt a clear stance on the issue and stressed that it was the rectors' job to safeguard university asylum from abuse.

    ANA-MPA -Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Kastanidis underlined that "university asylum is a necessary institution that exists to protect the academic community and the free movement of ideas and not to solve the housing needs of migrants".

    ANA-MPA -The issue was raised earlier in the Parliamentary session when the right-wing ND and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) parties clashed with Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MPs, who strenuously objected to calls for the abolition of asylum as "political hysteria".

    ANA-MPA -Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stressed that her party would oppose pressures to install police within universities and give them powers to violate this from time to time.

    "The asylum can and should be defended by the students against both the police and any one else that seeks to abuse it," she added.

    Papariga also highlighted the plight of illegal migrants that frequently ended up living in Greece for years without any legal status, subject to the worst sorts of exploitation and bereft of even basic rights.

    "The interior minister should announce measures in favour of migrants here and now," she underlined.

    ANA-MPA - A group of 237 migrants lacking legal residence status were brought to Athens on Sunday and installed in the old Law School building, which is currently unused and undergoing renovation. Once inside, they announced the start of a mass hunger strike in order to demand legal residence for themselves and all the roughly 400,000 migrants currently living in Greece without residence permits. Another 50 migrants have also begun a hunger strike at the Thessaloniki Labour Centre.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [03] EU blocks airline merger

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni) - The European Commission on Wednesday vetoed a proposed merger between Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, saying a tie-up would have hurt competition in the Greek air transport market.

    A Commission statement said the merger between the two airlines would have led to higher prices for the four out of six million Greeks and European consumers travelling to and from Athens each year. The two airlines control more than 90 pct of the Greek air transport market, thus blocking the entry of new airlines in domestic flights.

    "The merger between Aegean and Olympic would have led to a quasi-monopoly in Greece and thus to higher prices and lower quality of service for Greeks and tourists travelling between Athens and the islands," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

    Aegean, Olympic to examine 'next step' in merger plan

    Aegean Airlines and MIG (owner of Olympic Air) will carefully analyse the text of European Commission's decision and after consultation with their advisers will decide on any further actions within the country's legal framework, the two companies said in a joint statement.

    The merger agreement was pre-agreed by the main shareholders of the two companies in February 22, 2010. Following the Commission's decision, the agreement is annulled.

    Theodore Vasilakis, chairman of Aegean Airlines said both companies presented the benefits from the proposed merger for our companies, passengers and the country's economy and offered significant reassurances over consumers protection and facilities for the entry of new competitors in the domestic market. "Unfortunately, the EU did not approve the merger. A significant opportunity is lost for a strong representation in the European airline market. We adjust to developments and move forward."

    Andreas Vgenopoulos, chairman of Marfin Investment Group, said the EU's decision will have negative repercussions for both passengers and the country's economy, while would benefit the two airlines' foreign competitors. "It is obvious that we will continue to do our best for our executives and staff, our shareholders and passengers," he said.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [04] Pharmacies continue strike

    Pharmacists throughout Greece will continue strike action, remaining closed on Thursday and Friday in protest against government plans to liberalise their profession and accumulated social insurance fund debts to pharmacies amounting to 400 million euro.

    Also on strike on Wednesday and Thursday are the Greek railways OSE and the Proastiako railway line to the airport, though all other public transport will be running normally.

    Meanwhile, the civil servants' union federation ADEDY on Wednesday announced its decision to join a 24-hour general strike planned on February 23 by the private-sector umbrella trade union group, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).

    This will make the February 23 strike a nationwide general strike involving both the public and private sectors. ADEDY has converted a 24-hour public-sector strike originally planned for February 10 to a three-hour work stoppage on that day.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [05] Stocks jump 2.18 pct

    Greek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday as investors welcomed a government decision to lower corporate tax rates and the taxation of dividends. The composite index jumped 2.18 pct to end at 1,567.83 points, with turnover rising slightly to 131.777 million euros.

    OPAP (8.35 pct), Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (4.06 pct), Motor Oil (3.01 pct) and Mytilineos (4.05 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (2.38 pct), Alpha Bank (1.69 pct) and National Bank (1.46 pct) were top losers. The Big Cap index rose 1.76 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.18 pct up and the Small Cap index ended 1.43 pct higher. The Travel (8.0 pct), Food (3.90 pct) and Raw Materials (3.72 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (4.40 pct) and Constructions (0.03 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 122 to 52 with another 53 issues unchanged. Altec (14.29 pct), Unibios (14.29 pct) and Vioter (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Vell Group (11.76 pct), Olympic Catering (9.09 pct) and Eurobrokers (8.96 pct) were top losers.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

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