|Saturday, 24 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 6 June 2011 Issue No: 3805
 Sources: Proposed measures eyed by gov'tThe Greek government's eagerly awaited batch of new economic measures, following drawn out negotiations over the past few weeks with the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", possibly include an extraordinary real estate tax on larger property holdings, finance ministry sources said on Saturday.
Whatever pending austerity measures and a renewed commitment by Athens to meet privatisation, labour market and wider public sector restructuring goals come in the wake of Friday's successful conclusion of talks with the troika representatives -- a development that opens the way for the fifth installment of a 110-billion-euro bailout for the country.
Other measures to plug the gap in projected revenues for 2011 may include higher taxes for annual vehicle registrations, higher taxes on boats and luxury cars, a new consumer tax on soft drinks and a bigger surcharge on natural gas consumers, as well as the ubiquitous tax hike on cigarettes.
Tax measures eyed for 2012 but not yet finalised include a reduction in the tax-free ceiling for individual property holdings, which today stands at an objective rate of 400,000 euros, the same sources said.
Other options considered, according to reports, include the raising of the lowest VAT rate of 6.5 percent for items such as pharmaceuticals, books, newspapers and other periodicals, with the medium 13 percent rate eyed.
Another possibility that is still in the draft stage is a reduction in the tax-free bracket for low-income earners, excluding pensioners, who would still pay no income tax if reporting less than 12,000 euros in income annually. Yet another option is to institute different tax co-efficients for wage-earners and so-called self-employed professionals, assuming that this measure does not face a constitutional challenge.
On a brighter note, a reduction in the corporate tax rate is being considered, which today stands at 20 percent.
Finally, other options being studied by the ministry, sources said, include a process to legalise so-called unlicensed residences in the country -- a scourge in many parts of Greece that lie outside town planning districts -- via payments, as well as eliminating the subsidisation of heating oil so that diesel fuel is priced in a unified manner.
 IMF's Thomsen: Greek programme going better than most believeNEW YORK CITY (ANA-MPA / P. Panayiotou)
The IMF's "point man" in the 110-billion-euro EC-ECB-IMF bailout for Greece on Friday reiterated that the closely watched economic adjustment and reform programme being implemented in the east Mediterranean nation is going "better than most think", as many goals have already been achieved.
Speaking only hours after the Greek government said it successfully concluded talks in Athens with representatives of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" over approval of the fifth tranche of the bailout, Poul Thomsen nevertheless added that much remains to be done
Thomsen, the International Monetary Fund's deputy director of its European department and the IMF mission chief for Greece, underlined that a decisive effort is now needed by the Greek government to combat pervasive tax evasion in the country.
The high-profile IMF executive spoke at a panel discussion entitled "The Greek Economy After One Year of Reform: Progress and Challenges", an initiative of the Hellenic Society Prometheus, whichw was hosted by the St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bethesda, Md.
In other statements, Thomsen said the Memorandum signed one year ago with the Greek government is now changing, as conditions have changed, while he emphasised that similar restructuring programmes often experience problems during their implementation. "... they are overcome though when there is devotion to the targets," he added.
More ominously, he emphasised that without the EC-ECB-IMF support package Greece would have collapsed, economically.
Other speakers at the event included Irene Ninetta Kyriakopoulos, a professor at the National Defense University; Thanos Catsambas, a former assistant director of the fiscal affairs department at the IMF, as well as moderator Evangelos Calamitsis, a former director of the IMF's African department.
 Gov't condemns local press reportsThe government, in a laconic announcement on Sunday, sharply condemned a series of recent press reports in the local media claiming, amongst others, "foreign overseers in ministries" -- criticism linked to the government's negotiations with the EC-ECB-IMF 'troika'.
The statement referred to reports that "poison the public opinion, either with non-existent information" or with improper and historically ignorant expressions of an "occupation of Greece".
"With the Greek people's sacrifices we are making a huge effort in order to save Greece from bankruptcy and to safeguard our national dignity..."
 FM Droutsas in Budapest on Mon.Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday will be in Budapest, Hungary to participate in the two-day 10th meeting of the ASEM (Asia-Europe) group's foreign ministers' conference. The meeting's theme is entitled "Working together on non -traditional security challenges".
On the meeting's sidelines, the Greek Foreign minister will have bilateral meetings with several of his counterparts.
 FM on visit to Mount AthosForeign Minister Dimitris Droutsas arrived on the Mount Athos monastic community on Saturday for a two-day visit, as the semi-autonomous territory located on a northern Greece promontory falls under the foreign ministry's jurisdiction.
Droutsas also chairs an inter-ministerial committee established to study and promote Mount Athos and to focus on the issues pertinent to the renowned Orthodox all-male monastic community.
The FM was accompanied by top ministry officials and the state-appointed governor of Mount Athos, A. Kasmiroglou.
 US Sen. Snowe expresses confidence in Greek effort to overcome crisis(NEW YORK CITY)
Deputy Culture & Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis met here on Friday with US Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), with the latter expressing her optimism that the east Mediterranean country will overcome its current economic crisis.
The long-time Maine Republican, who is of Greek origin, also noted that "fortitude and persistence" is necessary for Athens to achieve its goals, ones leading Greece to economic growth.
Nikitiadis, who thanked Snowe for her unwavering support towards Athens, is in the US metropolis for a series of meetings with major travel agencies and Greek-American groups. He also spoke at the graduation ceremony of the Aghios Demetrios High School in Astoria, NYC, the only Greek-language high school in the United States.
 Leftist leader: Any new Memorandum will not passRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary head Alexis Tsipras on Saturday charged that the government has already signed an updated Memorandum with the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", further claiming that the former envisages widespread layoffs in the public sector and the sell-off of state property."
However, he forecast that whatever new agreement "will not pass", as he said.
 Latest 'Indignados' protest in Syntagma Square on Sunday largest yetThe largest "Indignados"-style gathering -- named after the initiatives that first sprung up in Spain's main plazas -- took place in Athens' central Syntagma Square on a balmy Sunday afternoon and evening.
The social media-fuelled sit-down protest covered most of the square by late afternoon in front of Greece's Parliament, while a handful of other main plazas across cities in Greece hosted the same type of protests.
The mobilisations in Greece coincided with similar rallies across European cities.
As of 10 p.m. local time (20.00 GMT), the sit-down protest continued in an entirely peaceful manner, mostly with chants against political parties and politicians. Streets adjacent to Syntagma Square were blocked off.
 GNTO launches cooperation with GoogleThe latest in Internet tools will be employed by the ministry of culture and tourism in an effort to better promote Greece as a tourism destination, while an "in house ad campaign" has been underway since May 27 via Google to promote Greek tourism and the visitgreece.gr website.
The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) inaugurated the cooperation with Google, as well as with Google search, Google Display Network and YouTube, within the framework of an initiative scheduled to last until the end of the year.
 Small turnout for Sat. union rallyA small turnout estimated at no more than 1,000 protesters was held in central Athens' Omonia square on Saturday, organised by the largest trade umbrella group (GSEE) in the country and the civil servants' union (ADEDY).
Union representatives, in addresses to rally participants, reiterated their opposition to austerity measures and against whatever updated Memorandum agreement with the EC-ECB-IMF 'troika'.
 Underwater clean-up, urban bike ride commemorate World Environment DayA group of 17 scuba divers, 15 men and two women, from several diving schools in the greater Athens area participated on Sunday underwater clean-up of the popular Alimos beach in southern coastal Athens -- an initiative that coincided with World Environment Day.
The volunteer divers, who were aided by the Greek coast guard, amassed several large garbage bags filled with all types of refuse. The initiative was one of 152 scheduled around the country in forests, beaches, parks and neighbourhoods on the occasion of event.
Meanwhile, hundreds of bicyclists conducted as seven-hour bike ride around central Athens on Sunday, reaching coastal southern Athens as well.
The event, co-sponsored by the transport and environment ministries and with the participation of Greece's national cycling team, aimed to send an environmentally friendly and "healthy living" message on the occasion of World Environment Day.
 Small plane crash lands in sea; pilot safeA single-engine private plane crash landed into the sea off the northern port city of Kavala on Saturday, while the pilot and only passenger on the plane was rescued shortly after.
The man was reportedly uninjured in the incident.
 Eight foreign nationals arrested in power company transformer theftsPolice arrested eight foreign nationals in the early morning hours of Sunday in southern Greece following a lengthy investigation commenced after the repeated theft of power company transformers, which authorities say were stolen and resold for scrap.
Two such PPC transformers were removed between midnight Saturday and early morning Sunday near the town of Argos, in the northeastern Peloponnese. In both instances, the copper located inside the transformers was removed.
A brief police chase resulted in the arrest of the eight men, with one suspect fleeing. Authorities said the suspects -- all identified as Pakistani nationals and believed to be in the country illegally -- had formed a criminal gang in the area.
 Drug smuggling arrests in NW GreeceTwo narcotics squad officers were slightly injured during a nearly 12-hour police chase of suspected drug smugglers in a remote mountainous region near the Greek-Albanian frontier on Friday.
Two suspects, identified as Albanian nationals, were arrested in the manhunt, which began after authorities spotted a vehicle moving along a dirt road near the border. Two suspects fled the car when stopped by police.
According to reports, 60 kilos of hashish, ostensibly destined for Athens, were discovered inside the vehicle.
In an unrelated incident further south in the seaside town of Amfilochia, western Greece, a routine traffic stop netted 100 kilos of hashish. The driver was arrested and the vehicle, which sported Albanian licence plates, was confiscated.
 Partly cloudyScattered clouds and northeasterly winds are forecast for Monday. Wind velocity at 5 on the Beaufort scale. Temperatures in the north between 14C 32C; 16C-34C in the south and 17C-32C on the islands. Cloudy in Athens, 17C-32C; the same for Thessaloniki, 17C-29C.
 The Sunday editions of Athens newspapers at a glanceThe apparent approval of continued European aid until 2014 in exchange for a forthcoming package of austerity measures, along with continued mass sit-down protests in major squares (patterned after the non-violent 'Indignados' movement of Spain) mostly dominated the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGI: "Blow hard so they'll leave..."
AVRIANI: "Scam artists sold out the country; 200 billion euros of debt amassed in a year".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They're saving Greece with occupation-like conditions".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Indignation on all fronts".
EPOCHI: "They (government) should leave before the vote (over a new Memorandum)."
ETHNOS: "Vote for all, or else snap elections under the threat of bankruptcy".
KATHIMERINI: "International community expects 'yes' from PASOK".
LOGOS: "Marked deck used to persuade public opinion".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strikes against hellish measures".
TO PARON: "(Troika) Overseers in all ministries".
PROTO THEMA: "Occupation or bankruptcy".
REAL NEWS: "Protests in squares brings resignations".
VIMA: "Massive assistance plan, with snap election on the horizon".
VRADYNI: "Save your pension. How to recognise more years of contributions".
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